RIVERS CASINO, PITTSBURGH -- It's a little late to write about this now that it's over, but I couldn't write much while it was going on yesterday because the film crew didn't allow electronic devices on the set. Confused? Here's a link to the Poker Night in America Facebook page. It mentions something about the winner being Larry Pileggi, a personal friend of mine. https://www.facebook.com/pokernightinamerica/posts/479456748837334
Day 1A started on Friday at noon. Pros in town who I saw included Darvin Moon and Greg Raymer. Day 1B was Saturday, but Larry had made it through Day 1A with a slightly less than average chip stack and without a rebuy. (Up to a certain point, a player can buy in again after busting out -- a rebuy.)
On Sunday, Day 2, play started at noon. It ended 16 1/2 hours later at 4:30 a.m. with the final six players. Yesterday, Day 3, play would start at 2 p.m., but Larry had to go to work in the morning. We slept maybe three hours (and wow am I feeling the effects of that now!).
This was the first time that a poker event would be filmed in Pittsburgh. Poker Night in America was the company doing the filming. The set was built upstairs in the ballroom area of the casino. Surrounded by black curtains, the table and cameras took up a space about the size of a two-car garage. Before play started, the players were miked and the lights and the cameras (5 cameras) were set up. The players were tense -- they were way too quiet for poker players. At one time, I counted 28 people in that small space, folks from Rivers Casino, from Poker Tonight in America, dealers, Dave Crawley of KDKA and his camera man, a photographer from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and even the young woman who served drinks (who was dressed in the required red santa-inspired cocktail dress).
Early on, Larry lost a huge hand. That's when my stomach settled down. He plays well short, and he wasn't going to crumble. I couldn't see the cards, but it almost didn't matter. The whole thing was over in about 3 hours. Well, before it was over, I did get to see the cards up close and personal.
By the time it was heads up, the chip stacks were so large that Larry couldn't reach beyond them. Management called me over to help. Sometime I stack chips for Larry, but I don't usually put in his bets for him. This time I had to. I don't play poker myself, even though I've watched a lot. (Okay, I played once or twice, but I don't really have the ability to concentrate for that long.) I'm just thankful I understood how the big and small blinds work in heads up. I felt like I was wearing boxing gloves, but I tried my best not to be seen.
And then it was over. Larry had won.
When we went back down to the poker room, the Poker Night in America broadcast was being streamed to all the TVs, but on a delay. People were confused because to them, it wasn't over yet. Was Larry out? And then they saw that he was carrying the box with the trophy in it. Yes, a Pittsburgh guy beat the pros.