To my complete surprise, this is hardly the case at all. The final days of the Main Event are turning out to be my favorite of the entire summer. I only wish it were going on for longer. Here's why:
As I write this, the field has been narrowed to twelve. By the time I finish, it will probably be down to nine. It's been going fast, and that makes me pretty happy. We've all been dreading 18 hour work days; a long drawn out process in which no one will go all-in, and the huge stacks seem to never take hits.
Obviously, this hasn't been the case at all. Today nine players were eliminated within the first four hours of play. That was incredible to me. In all honesty, I expected maybe one elimination per hour. But apparently only one guy has been getting any cards. Everyone else has been busting out and drawing dead. I realize that the final table and heads-up may turn out to be completely different stories, but until then my optimistic pants are pulled up high.
I'm also extremely pleased with all of the players who've made it this far. In my mind, there was quite a bit of fear that one of the "young guns" of poker would take over and dominate the tournament. After day one, everyone was hyping up Jason Strasser as the force to be reckoned with in the Main Event. But as solid as that kid was in day one, he fizzled fast. There were lots of young aggressive dudes in the tournament this year, and none of them got as far as they were expected to. Almost everyone left is in their late 20's to 30's, and they've all been playing very consistent, smart poker.
I'm also glad that none of them are attention whores. Nothing annoys me more than guys like Humberto Brenes who, once the cameras start rolling, stand up on top of chairs when they win a hand, inventing catch phrases and singing songs, ensuring that the entire floor will know they just did something important. That kind of behavior turns poker into a spectacle, and makes the moment that those dudes bust out all the more savory. Luckliy, everyone like that busted out a while ago.
Also, there are no rowdy frat boys sitting in the stands with their shirts off chanting inanities like "Keep it low!" or "No Spade!" There are no "Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!" chants like last year. The rejoicing has been respectable and appropriate - the way it should be.
I'm also glad the only guy that anyone in the world knows who is still in the tournament is Allen Cunningham. You couldn't have chosen a more deserving player. He's been playing incredibly consistent all through the WSOP, and he's deadly now that he's got a stack in front of him.
However, you also couldn't have chosen a player that the fans could care any less about. Cunningham, while being one of the best pros out there, is also one of the most understated and unknown. If Mike Matusow or Daniel Negreanu were still in it, the Rio would be packed full of fans. Instead it's pretty empty in there. You see the families and friends, and guys like Phil Hellmuth and Johnny Chan have been hanging around to keep it lively, but almost all of the groupies disappeared a few days ago. I imagined this would be the busiest moment of the entire WSOP, but instead, it's really the tamest.
Aside from all that, I've got Main Event fever because it's just so effing exciting. Everyone competing just became a millionaire. How fun is that? Watching people push million dollar stacks into the center of the table is a recipe for fun, and that's all there is to it. And since the conditions are all so optimal, its making my time at the Main Event the definite highlight of the WSOP.