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The November Nine

November 8, 2009

When I’m not periodically rambling about issues of vast social importance in this space, I can often be found writing over at Pokerati, which is how I found myself spending the day in the sky box at the Penn & Teller theater for today’s WSOP Main Event final table.

While I’m closer to the action than many other poker fans, I’m still separated from the final table by a pane of glass and about 300 feet. Still, my bird’s-eye view has provided an interesting take on today’s action. I’m not doing hand-by-hand commentary like I did earlier in the series and, for the most part, I’m free to write about what I want. Today, that meant finding some of the color here at the Rio.

As anyone who watched last year’s final table remembers, Dennis Phillips showed up with a huge entourage all dressed in matching white button downs and bright red Cardinals caps. They were easily the most identifiable group here and helped make Phillips one of the best-remembered players from the 2008 series. This year, most of the players arrived with groups of friends and family in matching T-shirts, creating little colored pockets of fans spread throughout the audience. Combine that with the fact that each group is trying to out-cheer their counterparts, and you’ve got a real party atmosphere here at the Rio.

Say what you will about Harrah’s and the three-month delay before today’s action, but they’ve certainly created the “event” atmosphere that they were looking for when they introduced the November Nine concept last year. There are still kinks to be worked for sure, but overall, this has been a great spectator experience for fans and media alike.

Am I completely sold on the merits of delaying the final table? Not at all. But, compared to last year’s final table, I have to say Harrah’s has taken a big step in the right direction.

A Steve Begleiter fan

Moonies

The final table from up in the sky box

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