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Paul Pierce – The Poker Player

Nick Laham, Getty Images

When someone mentions the name Paul Pierce, you immediately think of the Boston Celtics, his 9 All-Star Games and his 2008 NBA Finals MVP performance. But this month, Pierce is looking to make a name for himself off the court and inside the poker room.

Last week, the NBA star laid out the $10,000 buy-in for the Main Event in the 2011 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. Because of how many entrants this event receives, the first day of the event is split into 4 groups of players, with Group 1 starting the event all day Thursday.

Andrew Feldman from ESPN.com wrote a special piece about Paul Pierce back on Sunday and mentioned how well the NBA All-Star blended in with the poker crowd.

The NBA superstar blends in with the field well, quietly raising, folding and calling with the rest of the masses in the Pavilion Room. Unless you see his huge green shoes, striped white-and-green socks, NBA championship ring, and hat with the green No. 34 on the back or watch him stand up and tower over the rest of the players at his table, he is just another player in the room.

Simon Fergusson, Getty Images

The fact that big-name celebrities and athletes can mix in with the crowd and not draw too much attention is what makes the Main Event at the World Series of Poker so special. It doesn’t matter if you’ve played poker for 10 minutes or 10 years before entering the tournament, anyone can sit down at the Main Event and feel comfortable playing at the table.

Despite getting knocked out Monday in the first session of Day 2 for the Main Event, Pierce showed that he can hang with some of the best celebrity players in the poker world. He outlasted TV star Ray Romano (eliminated on Day 1) and nearly made it to the short night session. A few notable celebrities advanced through Monday’s first session of Day 2, including Jason Alexander (George Costanza from “Seinfeld”) and Brad Garrett (Robert Barone from “Everybody Loves Raymond”).

Don’t forget that for the first time ever, ESPN2 will be showing live coverage from the Main Event starting this Thursday night at 7pm. Needless to say, Brian Noe and I will be glued to our TV sets and have our DVR’s set to record this historic telecast.

P.S. – My favorite player Daniel Negreanu entered yesterday’s session of Day 2 with a below-average chip stack and finished with 114,100 in chips. I hope this is Daniel’s year to finally win the Main Event, go Daniel!!

Ethan Miller, Getty Images

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