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Best of Vin Narayanan
World Series of Poker grooves its way into a huge Day 1C5 July 2008
lAS VEGAS -- Almost 2,000 players filled the Amazon and Brasilia rooms Saturday at the Rio All Suites and Casino in Las Vegas, generating a buzz and sense of excitement that was missing during the first two days of the Main Event.
The surge of entrants was a welcome relief for the WSOP after 2,455 players combined to play on Thursday and Friday.
The WSOP set the stage for an exciting day with music, playing Jagged Edge's "Where The Party At" featuring Nelly over the sound system as the players entered the Amazon Room. Wild Cherry's "Play That Funky Music (White Boy)" and a few bars of James Brown's "I Feel Good" were the other hip songs to belt out of the sound system. With players grooving and in a good move, WSOP tournament director Jack Effel ordered play to begin, and the largest Day 1 of the Main Event was underway.
As the cards hit the air, a buzz began to build around Evelyn Ng's table. Ng, a well-known Guitar Hero aficionado, had bet PokerNews' Garry Gates that she could beat him in a three-song battle. Ng swept the series 3-0, and Gates paid off the bet today by showing up in a toga with grapes to feed her and fan to cool her down. Gates stayed table side for several minutes, fanning Ng whenever she was involved in a hand.
But Effel put an end to the stunt when players started to complain about the distraction.
While Ng was being treated like a Roman princess, David Singer was happy to reach his table within minutes of the tournament starting.
"This is the earliest I've been to a tournament," the new dad said as he applied an All-In Energy patch to his shirt. "I didn't even have time for the patches (before leaving for the tournament)."
While Singer had to attach his All-In patch at the table, he arrived with the Akuproject.org site already on his shirt.
"I always wear them," Singer explained. "They help kids in Nigeria get an education."
"The project helped the village (Aku) get water first," Singer added. "Now they're working on the school."
Singer's altruism turned into good fortune at the table as he started catching hands and chips.
"I feel like John Juanda," Singer joked. "I'm flopping sets and flushes."
As Singer was joking about Juanda, Juanda was sitting three tables away getting an endless massage. Juanda's massage started when the cards hit the air and continued through the first two breaks.
With play taking place in two rooms, friends and supporters of the players attending the Main Event were having trouble following the action.
Tanya Anderson flew in from the U.K. this week to watch her brother's fiancée, Abigail Reid, in the Main Event. Joining the Glasgow resident to watch Reid was Atlanta's Carlisa Epperson. The two had become friends a few years back in Dubai when Anderson was working there, and Epperson was visiting her boyfriend. The two decided to make watching Reid a reunion of sorts.
But the two friends couldn't find Reid. They were looking in the Brasilia room, hoping that a woman with a cap on was their friend.
Completely unsure, the asked a Casino City journalist if their friend was playing at the table. She wasn't, but the reporter volunteered to walk them to her table in the Amazon Room.
Reid's table in the Amazon Room wasn't close to the rope, so the only thing they could see was the back of Reid's head. But they were happy. They had come to support their friend and were watching the biggest poker tournament in the world.
Reid's dad was also keeping an eye on the action from the rail. When told Reid was a bit short in chips, Joe Reid winced.
"There's lots of chips in this tournament," Reid said. "She'll be all right."
Abigail Reid earned her seat by winning a rake race at Ladbrokes' online poker room.
"She (simultaneously) played 10 tables of $1-2 No-Limit Hold'em 20 hours a day for a month," to win the seat, her dad said.
"She has a law degree," her dad added. "And she quit for a couple of years to play poker full time -- the earnings are tax free in the U.K."
"But she and her partner wanted to get a house. And when they went to the bank for a mortgage, they wouldn't accept poker player as an occupation. So she's started working again."
Although Reid is short stacked, if some of her friend's luck hits her, she might improve quickly.
Anderson won $700 playing the Wheel of Fortune slot machine at New York, New York.
While Reid was trying to stay in the Main Event, U.S. Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger was spotted in the hallway. Azinger, wearing shorts and flip flops instead the usual golf garb, told Casino City that he was indeed playing in the Main Event. He'll hit the felt Sunday on Day 1D, and put aside worrying about Tiger Woods missing the Ryder Cup in September for at least one day.
Azinger has played in the Main Event before. He tried his luck in 2006, but didn't cash.
Two other "celebrities" were at the Main Event Saturday as well.
Hustler publisher Larry Flynt was eliminated early during the day. And Sen. Alfonse D'Amato visited the featured ESPN table where told the audience "American should be allowed to play poker online and Congress should get off our backs."
Notable morning exits: Mike Sexton, Larry Flynt, Daniel Alai, Max Pescatori, Dustin Woolf and Scott Seiver.
Best of Vin Narayanan