World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event Begins!

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The 2006 World Series of Poker main event started Friday, and All Vegas Poker stopped by to check out the zoo. Take a look at the pics + videos.

I stopped by the 2006 World Series of Poker yesterday to check out the scene, and I was blown away. I know poker has exploded in recent years. But the scene here was insane. Thousands of poker players¸ a multi-million dollar exhibit hall, computerized poker tables, VIP rooms, open bars, and no shortage of booth babes.

Due to a conflict, I was forced to miss all the action at the WSOP last year, so my most recent WSOP memory is from 2004. In 2004, the WSOP took place at Binions. For me the biggest difference between 2004 and 2006 is the size and scope of the exhibit hall.

Sure, there were some exhibitors at the WSOP in 2004 – about 12. Most of them were mom and pops selling books and poker chips. This year there must be at least 100 vendors, and they’re not mom and pop businesses. These are deep-pocketed enterprises that have caught the poker bus and are riding it to the promise land.

The online poker rooms have employed hundreds of booth babes (I think ‘tradeshow models’ is the PC term), so there is an enormous quantity of high quality eye candy strolling around. Some vendors are really taking it to the extreme. Bodog for example is hosting an interactive pillow fight party. Poker players are lining up to hop into bed and have a pillow fight with a couple of smoke’n hot babes. To get in on the action all you have to do is sign up for a Bodog online poker account.

The excitement doesn’t end when you leave the exhibit hall either. Several major online poker rooms have setup special VIP rooms. These VIP rooms are really more like ultra-lounges or nightclubs where the music is pumping and the free alcohol is flowing.

Not all of the deep pocketed vendors at the 2006 WSOP are online poker rooms. The publicly traded PokerTek is there, showing off its computerized poker table. This is the first time I’ve ever had a chance to sit down at one of these interactive computer-driven poker tables, and I have to say it was the highlight of the show for me. This thing is cool, and the attendees I spoke with really seemed to dig it.

Word on the street is the first computerized table might be coming to Vegas within a year or so. I’m not quite ready to declare the death of poker dealers and real cards, but these computerized tables are a unique alternative to traditional poker. They’re already installed at the Hard Rock in Florida, and I understand they’re a big hit there. Watch out Vegas.

Oh yeah. I forgot to mention one thing. There is a poker tournament being played here also. But you’ll have to forgive me. It’s an easy point to forget with those booth babes walking around.

I caught some pics and videos of the action with my camera phone. Sorry the quality isn’t the best, but if you can’t make it to the 2006 WSOP this raw footage should give you some idea of what you’re missing.

Videos:

Top view of exhibit hallWalking through the exhibit hall

Bodog VIP room

Tournament action

More tournament action

Featured tournament table

PokerTek computerized poker table

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