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World Series of Poker Goes From November Nine to November Three

November 7, 2011 at 3:43 PM | by | ()

Checking out the start of the final WSOP table was our first time sitting down to watch other people play poker and, if nothing else, it was interesting. We headed to the Penn and Teller Theater at the Rio yesterday to catch the November Nine as they began the final battle in the World Series of Poker (WSOP). These are the final nine players out of almost 7,000 entrants. Nothing to shake a stick at here. In fact, 8 of the 9 players are millionaires now. First to exit was Sam Holden and he was only able to cash $782,115. Not too shabby.

As we said, this was our first time watching others play poker. First thing we'll say is that poker is a lot less fun when your money is not at stake. We'd rather play than watch. That said, the setting at the Rio was pretty awesome. Each player had their own cheering section. They were all dressed in similar outfits (varying from shirts to wigs) and all cheered very loud for their favorite player.

The player with the loudest support was definitely Badih (Bob) Bounahra from Belize. In fact, we became instantly enamored with Bob. Unlike his competition, he played to the crowd before, during and after the match. The appropriate player's crowd cheered when they won a hand - no matter how big or small. It was kind of crazy. Ben Lamb has an easy name to play off of and we would often hear "Baaaaa" cheers as the day grew long.

It's strange that such an event would be held on a stage. There are TV cameras and lighting rigs making it pretty difficult to see the action from the crowd. We think that the Absinthe tent or somewhere else in the round would make more sense for live viewing. Alas, the WSOP is now an event that is made for television. Most people were just watching on the big screens set up to the sides of the theater. To be frank, watching the WSOP live was similar to watching football at the sportsbook with the exception that the players could hear the cheers. Watching the WSOP live was a cool experience, but not the most riveting. The energy from the crowd definitely helps keep the game entertaining while the players are trying to remain focused. Watching televised poker makes the game look a lot more action packed.

A fun item of note: Ben Lamb, from Las Vegas, was always referred to as "Ben." Every time he folded (which was a lot), the MC would say "Ben Folds." We're pretty sure not many people at WSOP are familiar with the musician Ben Folds, but we chuckled every time we heard this.

Entry to the WSOP is free and if you're in Vegas for the final table on Tuesday it's definitely worth checking out for the experience. We imagine that the final 3 of Heinz, Lamb and Staszko will provide a little more action packed than the beginning of the November Nine had on Sunday, although Heinz has such a large chip lead he may just bully the other players around. Check WSOP.com for more info on how to get in.

Pictured: Pius Heinz and Ben Lamb

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