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WSOP Main Event Day 1B news and notes

7 Jul 2010

By Dan Igo
LAS VEGAS -- One of the perks of becoming the World Series of Poker Main Event champion, besides the millions of dollars and instant fame and recognition, is that Harrah's hangs enormous portraits of each champion along the walls of the Amazon Room.
1994 Main Event champion Russ Hamilton is nowhere to be seen in this photo.

1994 Main Event champion Russ Hamilton is nowhere to be seen in this photo. (photo by Vin Narayanan)

There are photos from every Main Event champion, ranging from 1970 winner Johnny Moss to last year's victor, Joe Cada. There is one photograph that is covered with a black tarp, however, and if you follow online poker, you can probably guess which player that is.

The player, of course, is 1994 champion Russ Hamilton. Hamilton was a key figure in the "superuser" scandal at and Absolute Poker. That scandal, which broke in early 2008, accused Hamilton and a number of UB and AP employees of using software to see an opponent's hole cards.

Hamilton's name and the winning year are still in view. WSOP Communications Director Seth Palansky said he didn't know that Hamilton's picture was covered or why it was obscured.

"We displayed Russ last year at the Main Event Final Table," Palansky said. "It's a part of history, like a Pete Rose or an O.J. Simpson. You can't get rid of it. I can tell you there was no intent or rationale for something related to his issue."
With such an international field, it should be no surprise that a lot of eyeballs were fixed on the Netherlands/Uruguay World Cup semifinal match.

Table banter before the first break often revolved around the World Cup, with both young and old offering their opinions. The WSOP staff did a fine job setting up TVs throughout both the Amazon room and the Pavilion.

There were audible cheers and claps throughout the second half, as the Netherlands scored two goals in quick succession to take a 3-1 lead. Players at tables closest to the TVs showed even more of a special interest, especially when Uruguay scored in stoppage time to make it a one-goal game. Alas, the Netherlands held on for the victory.
Frenchman Bertrand "Elky" Grospellier certainly doesn

Frenchman Bertrand "Elky" Grospellier certainly doesn't blend in. (photo by Vin Narayanan)

It was an unforgettable day for at least one Dutchman, and it had nothing to do with the Oranje making the World Cup final. Marcel Vonk, a physicist from Utrecht, won the sixth and final $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em championship late Monday, claiming his first WSOP gold bracelet and $570,960.

Vonk received his bracelet on Tuesday during the first break of the Main Event, and there were a number of fans in the crowd sporting orange shirts. They, along with Vonk, sang their national anthem in unison when it was played during the bracelet presentation. He is the third Dutch player to win a WSOP title.

Vonk, a researcher at the University of Lisbon in Portugal, was asked Monday night if he would rather win the Nobel Prize or a gold bracelet.

"I would choose to win the Nobel Prize," said Vonk. "But, it's close."
The World Series of Poker takes pride in the international diversity of its players. But sometimes, the differences in cultures can lead to trouble. Such was the case about an hour into Day 1B.

A tournament official had to be called over after a player took offense at another player's asking, "When do the Nazis play (in the World Cup)?" The offended player was German.

"Why do you have to say that?" the visibly angry player asked. He then stood up and paced around the table for a few moments.

The tournament official spoke to both players briefly and the originator of the comment said he wouldn't repeat it again.
Bertrand "Elky" Grospellier, the PokerStars pro from France, received a lot of attention on Tuesday, partly because of who he is, and partly because of his table's location.

Grospellier usually stands out in a crowd. His bleached blond hair can be seen from yards away, and he was at his bedazzling best wearing a black shirt adorned with rhinestones.
"Action" Dan Harrington is neighbors with the "Caped Crusader."

"Action" Dan Harrington is neighbors with the "Caped Crusader." (photo by Dan Igo)

His table was right in the corner of the Amazon room's "Orange" section, and thus the rail that was watching the table could see him from two different sides.

The ESPN cameras were a common presence at "Elky's" table until he busted before the dinner break.
Twitter is everywhere at the WSOP, with tournament officials, media members (@casinocity) and players constantly updating their feeds.

Annette Obrestad, the Norwegian wunderkind making her first WSOP Main Event appearance in the U.S., was no exception. She was on one of the two TV tables and was constantly on her cell phone, sending updates to her own Twitter account (@Annette_15) straight from the table.

They ranged from deep thoughts ("This table is fkn crazy and they're all randoms except for one guy who's by online definition old and he's crushing") to short and sweet updates ("29k").

Obrestad busted out right before the final break.
Only at the Main Event could a former champion (Dan Harrington) play next to a man dressed as a superhero (Batman).
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