In the days following the successes of Negreanu and Matusow, there has been an electric atmosphere pervading the card room at the Rio, as railbirds flock to catch a glimpse or, even better, swap a few pleasantries with their idols.
This situation has no doubt boosted numbers for some of the smaller events, as evidenced by the impressive, almost 3,000 strong field that rolled up to play in the WSOP 2008 $1,500 NLHE event no. 27 today.
The attractive lure of potentially taking home a bracelet, a large wad of cash and a place in the record books is no doubt a part of it, but the successes of the men who are household names can't but help with the promotion of the events.
The large influx of players dragged in by this has several interesting effects, one of which is to reduce the overall quality of the field, especially in events like the smaller buyin tournaments.
There are 55 bracelets being contended and 11 of them are in $1500 to $2000 NLHE events, meaning there are multiple opportunities for those with smaller bankrolls to take a shot.
If Joe Soap is 'feelin' lucky' and wants to pull $1,500 out of his bank account, roll up straight from his nickel and dime home game to have a tilt at taking home a bracelet, then he can.
He may be shark food to the better players in the tournament, but as many of the top name pros have declined to play in these competitions, favouring instead the large buyin Hold'em and niche comps like the 7 stud/ razz and omaha events, there is a gaping hole of value waiting to be filled for those willing to plough through the often 3 to 4,000 strong fields.
During Event 27, I spoke to many established players to get their impressions of the field.
Neil Channing, who has had an impressive year thusfar, picking up $1.4 million in 2008 alone, including the Irish Open title, had this to say.
"I wish I could play these events every day. The value is incredible. I would almost consider grabbing players off the street to put them into this event. If you can hold two cards and have above average IQ, you're +EV against this field."
Another poker professional, Chris "Soxy" Sokrati, had the same story to tell of the abysmal standard of play he witnessed, relating this hand as evidence for the prosecution.
"An underthegun player who's relatively short, raises it up. All pass to the big blind who now re-raises, surely knowing he must get called. UTG calls all-in, and the big blind tables 6-2 suited!
It's hard to understand what some of these players are thinking!"
The spotlight tends to fall on those events with the big pros, on the glitter of all the bracelets, and the big buy-in showbiz events like the main event.
But for the aspiring pro, these smaller events can prove a valuable investment.
The $1,500 sadly only yields $3,000 in chips which doesn't go far, but if you can pick up chips early then the dream of a bracelet remains a viable prospect, and even when that proves out of reach, a healthy return on investment is extremely likely.
For every quality pro like Kevin "BeLOWaBOVe" Saul playing the event, there are 10 Joe Soaps, who will string bet, play out of turn, overplay hands, make bad calls and generally play inexperienced and weak Hold'em until they bust.
Each one of these is adding value to the competition, and those with the bankroll, time and inclination can mop that up, even if the structure is a little restrictive.
My advice to those who fit the above criteria is mosey on down to the Rio, get stuck in and make some money.
Even if the tournament doesn't go your way, you can go have a nice steak and enjoy the Vegas atmosphere and weather afterwards.
See you soon!