LAS VEGAS -- Day 2 has an interesting dynamic. Every player in action right now understands that there's an incredibly long way to go, but there's an inherent pressure on every hand to make some moves. The blinds are tiny compared to the average stacks and at players at the top of the chip counts are holding more than 300,000 in chips. Those that don't need to really force the issue look around the bigger stacks at the table and feel defeated. From the other side of the spectrum, the chip leaders are looking at the smaller stacks as if they have to eliminate them now. The main event has an additional challenge of keeping a level head and understanding that while the leaders may be 400 big blinds deep, it's your own stack that must remain the focus.
The paragraph above is something that I reference in this blog each year. Around the tournament area today there are players visually stressed by a 30,000 chip stack. They make fold after fold with a defeated look wondering when it would be their time to double up. That 30,000 is still 30 big blinds and is the starting stack that players would receive in numerous other tournaments. Amateurs and professionals alike deal with this challenge and while the professionals handle this situation better than most, after playing the WSOP for seven weeks, they also feel a need to chip up in a hurry.
There are times players need to take a moment away from the game and set their mind to something else. With the accessibility of smartphones and tablets, that something else seems to be an obsession with checking the chip counts and updates. The constant in-your-face display of the massive chip counts around the room can and has thrown players off their game. The motivation to find yourself on the top of the counts is enough to cause a mistake or two. Those that can keep themselves focused on the tasks at hand are the ones that have the greatest potential to build their stack up.
In general, this whole discussion is centered around keeping a strong mindset. Players who excel at taking their tournament hand for hand will continue to apply the right strategies at the right times. Those who look three levels ahead are often the ones who unexpectedly hit the rail just a little bit early. There are very few players around the room that need to double up right now and probably only a portion of those with 30 big blinds actually are satisfied with that statement. They might want to double up, but the need isn't there yet. A stack of 20 big blinds can be nursed for a while and as Mike Matusow said earlier, there really is an art to playing the short stack in the main event. We'll see who will succeed with that challenge this year.
Small blinds: Leading the way after Level 8 is Jason Somerville. Eliminations during Level 8 include Brian Rast, Erik Seidel, Chad Brown, Jeff Lisandro, Scott Seiver, Allen Cunningham, Justin Bonomo and Jay Rosenkrantz. Players are now on a 90-minute dinner break. Early on in Level 8, a player began to walk out the door after his all in with K-Q against A-Q on a king-high board. He won the hand, but packed up his bag and began to leave. Roberto Luongo and the rest of the table watched him as he began to walk away and then called him back. The player began to say he thought he lost to a flush, but I'm pretty sure that wasn't even possible. Kevin Pollak is still enjoying every minute of his main event experience and has kept the mood at his table light. I asked him how much it would cost for someone to spend the day with him outside of poker and jokingly said it would cost a whole lot more than the main event buy-in. Because of that, I'm considering everyone at Table 438 the first players to have already made the money.