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Thursday, June 21, 2018
open/closeVin Narayanan
Vin Narayanan

Vin Narayanan is the former managing editor at Casino City and has been involved in the gaming industry for over a decade Vin is currently based in Hong Kong, where he runs his own consultant group and works as head of gaming and public relations for Mega Digital Entertainment Group.

Before joining Casino City, Vin covered (not all at the same time) sports, politics and elections, wars, technology, celebrities and the Census for, USA WEEKEND and CNN.

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WSOP Main Event gets more excitement than it bargained for

LAS VEGAS -- The money bubble burst early Friday at the World Series of Poker Main Event. But that was just the beginning of the excitement in the Amazon Room at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino. Shortly after the bubble burst, a player accidently released pepper spray into the air while the tournament was being played. And later in the day, WSOP officials sent players to dinner early because of issues in the payout process.

The pepper spray -- which sounds the most alarming of the three -- had the least impact on the day.

A player found what he thought was a pen in a parking lot. He started clicking it at the table and it turned out to be a pepper spray cannister. Whoops.

The spray induced coughing fits in a small swathe of the room (at least five tables), and people walking through the area (like me) inhaled some residual from the spray as well.

Players at the Main Event celebrate making the money Friday.

Players at the Main Event celebrate making the money Friday. (photo by Vin Narayanan, Casino City)

No announcement regarding the pepper spray was made to the room and play in that section of the Amazon eventually resumed without further incident.

The problems tournament organizers thought they had with payouts to people who had been eliminated from the Main Event looked to be much more worrisome and actually prompted a pause in play. Players had just come back from a 20-minute break and were sitting down to resume play when tournament officials hopped on the microphone and told dealers not to start play. Players hung around the Amazon Room for about 15 minutes before tournament officials sent them on their dinner break with the problem still unresolved.

It turns out tournament officials feared they had not been correctly paying out players after they had been eliminated.

"We sent players [to] dinner early after being concerned that eliminations & payouts didn’t match. That turns out to be unfounded," announced the WSOP via Twitter.

"All places have been paid accurately...[We] erred on side of caution to triple check," the WSOP added.

Paul Volpe was the first player to crack the 3-million chip mark at this year

Paul Volpe was the first player to crack the 3-million chip mark at this year's WSOP Main Event. (photo by Vin Narayanan, Casino City)

Play resumed after the dinner break, and when the night ended, Paul Volpe was the chip leader with 2.75 million. Volpe had more than 3 million chips at one point Friday. Other top chip stacks include Erik Hellman (2.216 million), Dave D'Alesandro (2.093 million), Kyle Bowker (2.081 million) and Eric Buchman (2.07 million).

Players reached the money in unusually quick fashion early Friday afternoon. During the first level of play, the field narrowed from 720 players 669. With only the top 666 places winning money, WSOP officials initiated hand-for-hand play, where the entire room had to complete a hand before moving on to the next one. Hand-for-hand play allows tournament officials to precisely track eliminations.

In the first hand of hand-for-hand play, five players making all-in bets were called. And four players were eliminated.

That left 665 players fully in the money and guaranteed at least $19,227. But the WSOP was paying the top 666 players. So the four players that busted out in hand-for-hand play each received $4,808. That's right. They cashed in the Main Event for less than their $10,000 buy-in. As a consolation prize, Steve Rosen, Dane Lomas, Desmond Portano and David Kelley will be playing in a four-player satellite for next year's Main Event.

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