We focus on how well they played, how lucky they got and how great they are, with little regard for much of the other happenings inside the Amazon Room.
But for every one winner in a tournament like today's $2k No-Limit Hold'em event, there are at least 2,712 losers.
Today I'd like to talk about one of those losers. This man is not a loser per se, having picked up $1.2 million dollars by winning the Copenhagen stop on the European Poker Tour earlier this year.
He also managed a first- and a second-place finish at two separate $500 buy-in tournaments at World Series of Poker Circuit events across the United States this year, collecting over $90k in the process.
But after dumping more than $100k in tournament buy-ins, cash-game debacles and expenses so far at the 2008 WSOP, Tim Vance has taken to calling his World Series experience "The Nightmare at the Rio," and there's pretty good reason for that.
Vance came into the 2008 WSOP with high expectations and the stats to back it up. On the way to qualifying online for six different $10k events over the past couple of years, the Dupo, Ill. native with a bit of a checkered past held an almost unbelievable track record of making one final table for every five poker tournaments he entered. But perhaps all that did was to provide Vance with an unrealistic view of tournament poker variance.
I actually met Tim at the PokerStars Scandinavian Poker Awards on the eve of EPT Copenhagen and took to him right away. A truly nice guy underneath it all, he plays the brash and boorish American character to a T.
That's why I chuckled a little when this PokerStars qualifier told me he was in Copenhagen to win, but it took only a few days for him to leave me wiping the egg from my face.
The two big WSOPC cashes had the entire poker world wondering if this siding salesman and contractor wasn't as good as he kept telling us he is. But this World Series has presented us with a completely different picture.
Vance has yet to make a Day 2 here, only getting a sniff of the money in the two tournaments where he's made it past the dinner break but busted soon after. In fact, most of his starting stacks have been dusted off before the second break in event after event.
But despite the abysmal record thus far, I'm not ready to pass judgment on Tim just yet.
Today in the $2k he had run kings into suited connectors and called his opponent's shove on the flop ahead, only to see the river complete that opponent's flush draw - the kind of bad luck that has typified Vance's WSOP experience.
He's put his money in good so many times only to get sucked out on, you can't blame him for the few times he's made a bad play and failed to suck out himself. No matter what he does, he seems to find a way to lose.
If the bad beats on the felt weren't enough to drive the man mad, his nightmare has extended to his stay in the hotel as well. Moving to the Rio from another property partway through the series, Tim booked a room at a favorable rate through the end of the Main Event, only to be woken up by a call from the front desk staff about two weeks ago.
Apparently they were expecting him to check out that day and when he went downstairs to investigate he found his reservation had been cancelled somehow. Of course, the friendly staff of the Rio offered to let Tim stay if he was willing to fork over about a 75% increase on the daily room rate.
He took this news about as well as the other beats, pacing off the walk of shame right out of the Rio over to a Strip property where he felt a little more welcome. But Vance has still made the daily trek back to the Rio every day to see his hopes and dreams of winning a bracelet crushed in every way possible.
Hotel reservation bad beat stories aside, Vance's nightmare at the Rio can surely be attributed to tournament poker variance catching up with him. But even when you add up the dozens of events he's played and busted in here at the WSOP, he's still making a final table an amazing average of once in every 10 events he plays.
The reality is Vance is only one of hundreds of players who have had their hats handed to them here at the Rio this summer, but with the kind of poker instincts he displayed on the way to winning EPT Copenhagen, I'm still willing to bet he's more than just a one-hit wonder.
Give this guy a year of playing $10k events around the globe and the odds are pretty good the next time I write about him, it will be just another story about a winner.