I tried the new Diet Coke with Splenda. It doesn't taste like the other Diet Coke and it sure as hell ain't the old syrup itself. I still liked it. It's funny how people start with a taste for a sugar sweetened caffiene, only to switch to somthing which tastes entirely different. Diet Coke is to the "real thing" as nails are to screws. So why would I try another "Diet Coke" that bears no resemblance to any Coke at all? Why would it carry the "Coke" brand?
The same reason we play poker.More in this Poker Blog! -->
8:00 AM Saturday (Vegas Time)
I had to get a wake-up call. In the wee hours of the morning, BadBlood and his lovely bride joined me in a Plaza 2/4. The only thing worse than the play was the players. To my left sat a larger woman, yes larger than me, with IPOD buds and a scowl. She called each pot to the river, lost, then in a calm and well-mannered voice declared her hatred for the rest of us. She wanted out, I could tell, but she kept tossing more money from her wallet to the game. I tried to put a read on her. I decided she was in some sort of pre-Bhuddist denial.
At about 2:30 I stumbled up to the 19th floor. I pressed zero on the 19th century relic of a phone and found the only cheerful person in this rotten ghetto hotel. "I need a wake up call for 8:00," I said.
"I don't think so," she replied with nerve shattering cheer.
"What?" I whispered.
"I'm just kidding," she said with the self-conscious laugh of someone who knows they aren't funny, "8:00 it is."
I passed out.
At 8:00, the Plaza came through. The phone rang and I rolled over. I could see the distant desert outside my window and the snow capped mountains beyond. I could feel the stirring of my stomach, running on pure booze for days. I could also smell something unnatural, the odor of a G-Rob bender. I took a shower and found the last of my clean shirts.
Downstairs I looked at McDonald's first, but the line was too long. I looked at Subway, but wasn't in the mood for reheated egg loaf. So, like a drunken game of craps, I rolled the dice, and hit the Plaza buffet. It looked like every buffet at every Best Western in every part of the USA: lukewarm scrambled egginess, soggy bacon-grease shavings, old potatoes shaved of sprouts, and WAFFLES!
I filled and cleared 2 full plates. Then caught a cab to the Aladdin.
The players were already gathered
The Aladdin CJ Challenge was only a few minutes away. I really didn't care who won but it was great to have everyone there. I struggled to guess how Maudie could look so sexy at that hour, and I assumed she stayed up all night getting ready. I wanted to get a glimpse of the Aprils too, to see if they were looking hot, but the bright lights of the poker room caught Otis' forehead just right and I was blinded for a half hour. If I won the tournament, he'd get hair plugs. It's for both our sakes.
I sat with some solid players, Joe Speaker, Felicia, FlipCHIP, and Marty. I was ready to be agressive. But how could I match the agression of my intestines? The Plaza strikes again. Midway through level one, I bolted for the bathroom and made my most loose agressive play of the week.
Back at the table, I was already bleeding chips. Middle pocket pair? 3 players and a danger flop. Suited Connectors? Unconnected board. And then, with only 900 chips in my meager stack, I found my 2 red aces. The good man under the gun raised the blinds to T600. I pushed ahead. Everyone folded and, of course, he had to call. I showed my monster and he showed the beast.
He had pocket 6s. Joe said he folded a 6. A 6 came on the flop. Adios G-Rob!
I Suck in Tournaments Anyway
I'm an excellent boozer. I found April at the bar and her bustout was even more difficult to bear. I went with beer until the cavalry arrived. Then I switched to SoCo.
Even while the tournament ran, I knew I needed more. BadBlood and I took seats at the first table up front. The game was NL with $1/$2 blinds, standard Vegas fare and standard Vegas play. Russ Fox massacared my first buy-in, but the second grew fast. I won back both buy-ins, my tournament donation, and the day's commute to the Plaza.
Of course, all the while, the lovely bride was sunning herself with Mrs. Blood. And, of course, she'd been in the company of said surrogate for most of our trip to Vegas. And, of course, the hammer was about to fall.
HERE COME DA JUDGE
The ladies hit Aladdin at about 5PM. Sure, I was running hot at the tables but the thermostat was yanked left. I needed a blanket.
All of us, the Bloods, and Russ and a token geek shuffled into the suprisingly bright midday light for the short walk to a drunken party. I love drunken parties and actually earned enough credits to make them my minor in college. Back then the wife and I were regulars at those events, like a hippy Norm and a skinny Kirstie Alley. Apparantly, two children ago, Kirstie grew up and Norm... the world passed Norm by.
ENTER THE ABYSS
I got in trouble. Saturday = Over.
I like to tell the wife she knew I was a drunk when she decided to marry me. She likes to add, "I've since sobered up."
C'est la vie. She makes me a better man despite my inclinations.
We left the party and walked over to the Excalibur mini-tram. We toured Mandalay Bay and walked all 26 miles to the Shark Reef exhibit before deciding the whole damn thing was too expensive. 26 miles later we found ourselves in a $14 dollar deli with at least a half-dozen hookers.
I didn't notice them when we walked in, I swear. But when I left the deli to find a bathroom (in Vegas there are no bathrooms IN the restaurant), I returned to find them all at the counter. The best of the bunch was a 6 foot blonde with a Hustler T-shirt. It said, "Relax, its only sex," on the back.
At the table next to us an entire family was enjoying their summer vacation, mom... dad... and 3 little boys. Mom did her best to hold it all together with a constantly babbling chatter, but all the sons and pop were sitting, mouths open, staring at the whores. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas... except the psycho-sexual scars, those are yours to keep.
SO NOW IT'S SUNDAY
I decided to make a break. The lovely hit the monorail for a last fling with Vegas and CJ, Lil' Willie and I hit the Luxor poker room.
The games were bizarre but so is my play. I was feelin' strong again. The only no-limit game was $50 max... with 3 blinds per hand. ($1,$1,$2). All three of us found an unbalanced table by the rail and let the chips fly. I was in the 1s, and a Luxor shill was in the 3, she said she was paid by the hour but used her own money in the game. I assumed that would make her more free-wheeling with the chips since there was a backup compensation. The opposite was true.
In the 6s was a man with at least $950. He'd been destroying the table for at least 8 hours. He knocked ol' Willie out when his A-3 flopped 2 pair over Willie's big slick.
After a solid hour of tight aggressive play I'd doubled up twice. After another 2 hours I was up $400. I cashed out up $500 and up for the trip to Vegas. Except for the whole ignoring the wife thing. I'm still deep in debt at home.
You need plenty of (Diet?) Coke in Vegas
So 2,000 miles from home and I'd managed to spend a solid 3 days playing poker with CJ and BadBlood. It was like a jet powered home game. Which is really what I wanted. I'm back home and I miss it all.
I look forward to each Thursday when I go over to casa Blood for our weekly showdown. I like poker there because I like hanging out with him, and Shep and Scott and the Rankster et al. Poker, and all its varieties, are just a substitute for what I really enjoy. Guys are funny like that.
When I first arrived at the MGM on Thurday night, I found Iggy and Bill and Al at the bar. They didn't want to play poker, its not WHY they came to Vegas, at least not REALLY. This is a place to hang and chill and shoot the shit. But I'm a funny guy like that. Despite the fact that I'm a "Professional TV personality", I'm not always comfortable just hanging out with a buncha doods. I need a reason to be. I need a competition to share. I play poker for that.
I play poker because it's a reason for a bunch of guys to spend 5 hours sitting around a table and drinking beer. I like to tell stories about stupid crap with people who feel financially obligated to listen. I play hold-em or omaha or stud because I can pay attention whenever I want and tune out the annoying crap while I "concentrate on a hand".
A few years ago I played frisbee golf with all my friends. We took it very seriously and went to the course almost every day.
Before that we were just drunks. We invented a game called the "drunk olympics" which only Otis or I could ever win. It was us taking turns inventing challenges which all involved a few drinks. The loser had to take more shots. In each round. I loved that too.
There are a million varieties, but they're all the same thing. Poker doesn't look or sound or feel like "Frolf" but I play it for the same reason. I enjoy the company of my competitors.
The people I went to Vegas with were a lot of fun to play poker with. That's why I'll go again.<-- Hide More
It's 1:13am. From where I'm sitting I can see Scotty, Howard, Huck, Doyle, E-Dog, and Clonie. I don't use their first names because of any kind of familiarity. I use them because I never can remember how to spell Scotty's last name and I'm too lazy to look it up.
I'd planned on going to bed an hour ago. And I would if it weren't for the fact that the poker story of the year might be happening here and I'll be damned if I'm going to miss it because I went to sleep (or, like another unnamed blogger, went to the strip clubs).More in this Poker Blog! -->
A few minutes ago, I missed being a working journalist for the first time since I quit TV. Given, I'm still a writer and sometimes journalist, but there's something different about what I do. I don't think I need to elaborate.
So, why? Well, because Johnny Fucking Chan could very possibly win his tenth WSOP bracelet before sunrise. He's about to go heads-up with Phil Laak for the bracelet in the S2500 PL Hold'em event. It's like having a 50-yard-line seat to a legacy-clinching SuperBowl at the beginning of overtime. You don't just leave.
Sitting 20 feet to my right is Phil Hellmuth. He's in the $5000 PL Omaha (rebuy) event. His headphones are off and there's little doubt he cares what's about to happen. If Chan can outlast the Unabomber, he will break the tie with Hellmuth for the record number of bracelets. Hellmuth told the media shark feed a second ago that, of course, he would be jealous, but he's not rooting against Chan. Sure.
All of that said, we have to wait. There's another event finishing on the ESPN TV table. Chan and Laak have agreed to wait to begin their heads-up match until the other event finishes. And this other event doesn't seem like it will end before sunrise.
So, I should go to bed. I don't HAVE to write anything about Chan or Laak. Chan is sponsored by Doyle's Room and Laak knocked my PokerStars guy out of the event with 12 people left. Yet, after seeing the frenzy a moment ago when Chan went heads up, I can't leave. I just can't.
Last night, I sat in the back corner of the poker room next to a 55-gallon cart full of bad cards. They were all bent and torn to ensure they wouldn't be used again. I felt much the same. Mrs. Otis was on the phone and sounded on the edge of breakdown. L'il Otis cried in the background and suddenly I was on the verge of tears myself.
After ten days at the WSOP, I hit the wall Dr. Pauly had been talking about. It was something I described on my other blog as Groundhog Day verisimiltude. The same games, the same people, the same cocktail waitressess, the same food, the same air, the same self-loathing. All of that combined with an overwhelming sense of guilt over leaving Mrs. Otis saddled with a month-long single motherhood finally got to me.
I realized at that moment that I wasn't taking very good care of myself. I had schooled others on the way to survive long Vegas runs, but I wasn't taking my own advice. I was sleeping and eating too little and working too much. My body clock was already off by twelve hours.
I decided that I was going to fix myself up, make sure I was tired in time for a reasonable bedtime tonight, and get a good night's rest. Get my mind right, so to speak.
Now, Chan and Laak are waiting in the wings while the most boring heads-up match ever plays out on the ESPN TV table.
And I'm wating next to the good Doctor. Mother fucker brings me screwdrivers at 4:30pm on a day that doesn't matter and he's drinking ginger ale tonight. What poor planning.
It seemed like a rain delay during monsoon season. I wasn't sure I could stand the wait. The cash bar is closed and I couldn't find my friendly cocktail guy John to hook me up with a freebie. I went and peeked at my carnivore, Jennifer Tilly, at the final table of the ladies event. The crowd was too thick. And I seem to have misplaced my media badge.
As I made my way back to media row, the marathon event was ending. The man on the cusp of the bracelet refused to look at the board. He turned his back to the table and Johnny Fucking Chan was standing there. Chan took the guy's hand and kept an eye on the board. When the river fell, Chan looked the dude directly in the eye and said simply, "You won."
If there is a way to win a WSOP bracelet in the coolest fucking fashion, that has to be it.
A few seconds ago, I stood relating the story above to the dude from CardPlayer. While we talked, the guys from ESPN miked up Chan right beside me. Chan held a cold can of Red Bull to his eyes. I do the same thing with Diet Coke bottles in the morning.
It smells like victory.
Phil Laak eyeing the cash
Chan in waiting
As the match begins, Pauly disappears to just watch. Phil Laak turns into Laak when Chan forces him to make a decision for all his chips. You will, no doubt, see it on TV. That's what televised poker is all about.
But what is bracelet winning about? I'd like to think, at least for now, it's about what Chan is doing. Playing for the bracelet more than playing for the crowd and cameras.
While the dealer is washing the car, Poker Wire Lisa comes over to tell me about the roast she cooked at 7am. Leeks, apparently, are key to a good roast. Now, I'm hungry again. Wait. I packed granola bars today,
Chan has Laak outchiped 4-1 and Laak is offering Chan money to see his hole cards. Chan doesn't need the money. In fact, as he whittles away at Laak's stack, he mimmicks Laak's antics...
You know what...this is something I should just watch.
...and I did. And it was so fucking worth the wait.
Well, that's not my job right now.
You'll see it on TV.<-- Hide More
Click here to listen to actual commentary from the two most famous blogger in Vegas, Dr. Pauly and Otis. (Courtesy the good Dr., with more to come.)
Plus, here's the picture of our hammer-dropping heroes before Event #2 (pics courtesy the other good Dr., Little Willie):
More pictures to come...
"Is that that movie girl?"
The guy looked like he was from Ohio. Ohio guys are easy to spot. Ninety percent of the natives look alike.
I was stuck an inordinate amount and I wanted to punch the chip runner.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Tournament play had ended early that night, and against my better judgment, I sat down to play in my regular $10/$20 game. I have a rule. If tournament play ends by midnight, I sit. If it ends afterward, I sleep.
This night, play had ended almost exactly at midnight. Choices suck.
It had been a tough night so far. Some dealer-abusing middle-aged, divorcee who claimed to be a $400/$800 player had sat down at my first table to verbally abuse his 21 year-old son for failing to check-raise with middle pair.
During my funk, I'd realized I smelled funk. I thought it was the Hawaiian guy next to me. When he left, I realized the smell was coming from me. I dialed back my brain and realized I might've forgotten to put on deodorant.
When you're winning (something that's easy to do in this enviroment), you notice all the exciting things about the room. Your reads are dead-on. The massage girls look exotic. The players at your table seem friendlier.
When you're stuck, the rose colored glasses stick thorns in your eyes. You notice the half-eaten lobster tail that's been on a tray in the corner for six days. The massage girls look used up. The players at your table are your high school nemeses.
When you're stuck, it's easier to smell yourself.
I'd just been beaten in a five-way capped pot with pocket kings by a guy who had called all the way down with J9 to hit his straight. That's when Jennifer Tilly walked out of the satellite area.
"Is that that movie girl?" the table speculated.
I mumbled something about her being Phil Laak's girlfriend.
"She's your ex-girlfriend?" they asked.
I stood from the table and walked around a little bit. In the lobby, Laak and Tilly had sat down at an expo booth, facing into the hallway like they wanted to sign me up for a credit card. Room service had just arrived and they were eating. Laak had the salmon and vegetables. Tilly destroyed a big steak and baked potato. She left the vegetables behind.
Something about Tilly being a massive carnivore changed my spirit. I walked back into the poker room and asked Mr. J9 if I could buy a $100 of my chips back from him. My stack of chips had grown smaller, but I had a few hundred bucks underneath and a lot more in my pocket. I hate looking at cash when I'm playing.
He pushed a stack of red across to me. I noticed I was under the gun and pushed $20 into the middle.
The dealer announced, "Live $20."
Mr. J9 raised his eyebrows. "Straddle, huh?"
"Steam straddle," I said.
I capped my cards without looking at them and called blind when an aggressive lady in the two seat raised it up.
I eyed the dealer and said as politely as I could, "Straddle flop, please."
He laid out 356 rainbow.
The big blind--a cowboy who had called two additional bets pre-flop--bet into me. The aggressive lady asked how that flop could've helped him.
"What can I do?" he said. "I flopped a straight."
I peeked at my cards and called his $10.
The aggressive lady put in two bets and the cowboy just called. So, did I.
Why? Why would I call again. I'd put $30 in pre-flop and I'd just called another $20. Why? Steaming?
Well, on that flop of 356...I held a seven...and a four.
A check-raise on the turn drove out the aggressive lady, but the cowboy called me all the way down.
Indeed, there is something about turning over the nuts in a monster pot that can change one's perspective.
Suddenly, I didn't smell myself any more.<-- Hide More
I know these are a few weeks behind, but it wasn't the easiest list to compile. I think I've gotten things as close as possible. If you see any mistakes, please let me know.
Congratulations again, to our winner, Bill Rini. Thanks you all of you for making it a huge success. And thanks to the Aladdin for running such a successful event.More in this Poker Blog! -->
|40||The Fat Guy||10/3|
It will one day rank up there with the likes of Lakers vs. Celtics and Yankees vs. Red Sox and Jay Leno vs. David Letterman.
G-Vegas was lead by Otis and the LA Crew lined up behind Hank. Two titans of the poker blogger community. And if by some creul twist of fate those two fell, Bad Blood and Joe Speaker were ready to step in. Even G-Rob and fhwrdh caused concern for their tablemates.
Oh, almost forgot to mention. The LA Crew also featured the last place finisher from the last live WPBT event and G-Vegas brought along the last place finisher from the last online WPBT event. Bill Rini and yours truly.More in this Poker Blog! -->
So how did it come to pass that as 69 players dropped one-by-one, left at the final table were the two afterthoughts? It wasn't supposed to happen that way. And yet, there it was. The most unlikely showdown in WPBT history.
I suppose I should start at the beginning...
I was a mountain of nerves Saturday morning. I guess it's like organizing the biggest home game you could imagine. I was worried people wouldn't show or that we'd show up at the casino and the floorman would say he has no idea what we're talking about.
Amazingly, everyone made it, and most people were early. When I settled into the one seat of whatever table I was assigned to, I was finding it hard to concentrate on my play. I hadn't prepared myself mentally, and frankly, my tournament showings with the WPBT left a lot to be desired.
I decided early on to take Felicia's advice from the last WPBT live event, and play a little more aggressively. At one point, the dealer mentioned we were the tightest table he had ever dealt. I decided to use this to my advantage, and had little trouble taking blinds when I wanted to.
With the structure the way it was (and yes, it was fast), you needed to accumulate chips at a steady pace. Thankfully, I caught the cards when I needed them, too.
When we reached the third level, people started dropping quickly. In one 5 hand stretch, I was dealt Big Slick 3 times. With one of those hands, I knocked out two people. A few hands later, I knocked out another two short stacks when I called with J8o from the BB and flopped two pair.
When we got down to three tables, I was a huge chip leader. I know this because Joe Speaker delighted in telling me I was a huge chip leader. In fact, every time he did this, I managed to bleed chips at a rapid pace.
It started when I raised 3xBB with A6s. I was two from the button and was really just hoping to take the blinds. It was folded to the BB where Shelly pushed all in with pocket 6's. It wasn't much more for me to call so I had to. Usually when I made this move, I knew I'd be playing for all of their chips if they decided to play with me. I never improved and Shelly took a big chunk out of me.
A few hands later, I look down at A9s and I make another move. Mr. Subliminal is two seats to my left and after considering for a few moments, he announces, "Call" and flips over A2o. Unfortunately, the call doesn't put him all-in. He's stil got about 1500 behind him. Frankly, I was going to play for that 1500 except that the flop came down 2-2-x. Obviously, I folded.
Suddenly, I'm down to just 4000 with the blinds at 500/1000. I was in big trouble. As soon as I saw a playable hand, I pushed all-in, but amazingly, I didn't get called and I was up to 6500. A few hands later, Shelly raises in front of me. I didn't have much and with A3, I decided to make a stand, hoping she wasn't playing an Ace. She called my all-in with QJ, and when the flop came Q-3-3, I doubled up again.
And just like that, I was back. The chips started flowing my way again, and before long, we were down to the final table. I couldn't believe it. And with 10 left, I was chip leader (guess who pointed that out?).
I kept telling myself I would take things easy as the little stacks drifted away. One stupid decision and I'd be in bad shape. With 6 players left, I made that stupid decision.
I look down at pocket 3's and raise to 3xBB. It was a pretty standard play for me. At the other end of the table, a LA Crew groupie (Hank's buddy Matt) pushed all in. I knew he had a big pair. We were pretty close in stack size (I had him slightly outchipped) and he would only risk a stack that size with a hand that big.
So I thought and thought and thought and convinced myslef to call. Why? I don't know. It was a terrible play. Even if I just put him on overcards, why risk that huge stack on a coin flip, right? So of course, I call.
He flips Rockets and I never improve. I'm down to just 3500 with blinds at 1500/3000 and I'm the BB on the next hand.
The cards come out and I announce I'm playing it blind. What choice did I have, right? Obie tries to make things easier on my by raising to 6000. I tell him that I appreciate the isolation, but then Matt goes and calls. Ugh.
The flop is A-x-x. Obie pushes all-in, and I again thank him for his isolation. Then Matt calls. Ugh.
Obie flips AJo and Matt flips AQo. Suddenly, Matt's about to knock us both out. I was in bad, bad shape. I grab my first card and flip it over. It's the 9 of hearts. Ooooh... there's two hearts on the board. I say, "At least I'm on a flush draw" before flipping over my other card, the Q of hearts. And when the river heart fell, the crowd erupted. I was still alive.
When the orbit came around again, the blinds had gone up and I was barely able to make a raise. I decided I'd be playing my BB for all my chips no matter what I was dealt. Matt had raised in front of me and I pushed all in without looking. This time, I flipped over 94 of diamonds. This time, it was runner-runner flush that kept me alive. I'm not sure how I got so lucky.
A few hands later, The Tsunami Hitchhiker pushes from the SB. He has me slightly outstacked. I look down at QT, and with money already in for the BB, I'm almost forced to call. When he flips over Q8, I know I'm way ahead!
The flop comes down Q-high giving us both a pair. When the turn is an 8, I can't believe it. I'm about to go out in 4th place after all that fighting. I suppose I was satisfied, but I hated the bad beat. A meaningless card falls on the river and I feel empty. The adrenaline quickly seeped out of my body. I shake his hand and prepare to leave.
That's when we see it. Or more to the point, that's when the rest of the room points out what we missed. The flop was Q-T-x. I flopped two pair. The 8 was meaningless. I was still alive. I couldn't believe it. I went through all the emotions of being knocked out, but I was still alive.
It wasn't long before I knocked out The Tsunami Hitchhiker. We were down to just three. Matt's huge stack and the modest stacks in front of Bill Rini and myself. I don't know how it happened, because it was all a blur, but in just a few hands, Bill and I had whittled down Matt's stack, and in the end, Bill busted him.
We were heads up.
The most unlikely heads up in WPBT history.
I kinda liked my chances. I'm pretty happy with my heads up play in general, and I planned on being appropriately aggressive. I figured I'd try to chip away where I could, and when I got a hand where I figured I was ahead, I'd push all in.
That hand was A3o. When I pushed, Bill called and flipped KQ. The hand analyzer says I was a 58% favorite at that point. Not great, but I was ahead. When the flop came T-T-T, the most bizarre flop of the tourney, I was a 70% favorite. If I double up here, I'm a huge chip leader. When a K comes on the turn, it's almost over. Only an Ace or the case Ten wins it for me and my 9% chance never comes.
Bill Rini is the WPBT Aladdin Casino Classic Champion. I really wanted to knock out the LA Crew, but they did bring 32 representatives after all. I suppoe the odds were on their side. And for the record both the Michigan Boys and the Minnesota Trio were also represented at the final table by Boy Genius and Chad, respectively.
I don't know how it all happened, and I'm sure there was an awful lot of luck involved, but that win sure made the rest of the weekend a lot easier!
I want to thank all of you for making it easy on me. In the end, all the work was more than worth it. I'd also like to thank the fine people at the Aladdin Casino for running such a fine tourney. It was a blast!
"The Grand Massage"
"First, you put the sour cream on it, and the kitty cat, it slurp, slurp, slurp."
The mad Russian who could've been Howard Stern's brother was sitting one table behind me talking about his #1 rated fetish porn site.More in this Poker Blog! -->
We were two tables of late night $10/$20. The Russian's table was the live one. A priest had wandered by my game twice and administered last rites.
Three times I'd considered getting up and going to bed, bit it was still relatively early, my work was done for the day, and I wasn't tired. The game was exhaustingly boring though. The die-hards at the table had done everything we could to get the action going. We straddled, we tried to drink a bit, and we even brought the rock into the game. It was all to no avail.
I was scanning the room for a rack to fill with my meager stack of blinded-off reds when the Russian's table broke and three of the players came to our short-handed table. The Russian took the seat to my right, while another player (also Russian, perhaps, but I'm not sure) took the seat to his right. We'll call him Eddie.
On the first hand, Eddie stood an announced he would play the entire hand blind. He put his chips on his cards and when it a raise came around to him, he grabbed a handful of checks, and said, "Hey, hey, hey, watch this..." Then he wound up like a fat minor league pitcher, threw his arm forward, said, "Blooooooooop!" and rolled out three bets.
I looked around at my old tables mates--every one of them locals--and raised my eyebrows. They nodded, and we waited.
Yes, on that first hand, the betting was capped pre-flop, capped on the flop, capped on the turn, and two bet on the river. Blind Eddie's T6o hit a runner-runner straight to snap off the solid's player's flopped set of nines.
"Fucking amazing," the guy said. "Fucking amazing."
And then the idiot stood and left. Like walking outof a goldmine beacause your pick-axe is scratched.
I ran to the bathroom and when I came back, a red-haired lady who I'd been playing with all night grabbed me and said, "Just sit back and wait for cards."
The sentiment wa unnecessary but nice. After all, the lady and I had spent a couple of hours trying to take each other's money and now, with six other players, we were looking to take the Russian and Eddie's stacks...and the stacks of bills behind. The game had shifted just like that.
And after all, now Blind Eddie and the Mad Russian were bothplaying blind, usually to the river, usually in pots that were three bet ("Bloooooooop!") or capped pre-flop.
Just three hands later I found pocket sevens UTG +2 and limped in, knowing full well I'd be playing them for thirty or forty dollars. Indeed, Blind Eddie and the Mad Russian raised and re-raised blind. Before he flop we had six players in a capped pot.
So, imagine my poker player's joy when the flop came out 753 rainbow. The boys came out firing and I slow-played my set until the bets got back around to me and gave me a chance to cap it. My former opponents got the message. get out and get out now.
The turn was a deuce. Three bets from me and the boys made it to the middle. I was ever-so-slightly worried that one of the boys had 4-6 for a flopped straight, but it didn't slow me down.
And then the beautiful river...another deuce. Not quite the nuts, but close enough for me. The mountain of red chips that slipped to my corner of the table was too big to stack before the conclusion of the next hand. I figured if I could catch one more hand, I could end the night with a very nice profit.
And then the worst possible thing happened.
I wasn't in the hand, but the field had limped around to Blind Eddie who had raised (he said blind, and I think I believe him). The Mad Russian three-bet and the rest of the field folded). So, the boys said they would check it down. Eddie showed KK. The Russian showed 6-9 offsuit.
The guy to my left exploded, screaming that he had had enough of it, accusing the pair of cheating, colluding, etc. Now the boys were screaming back. Then a guy who had just won $12,000 in a small tournament in the back of the room got into it, screaming, waving his brick of $100s around. The floor tried to come to the rescue, but it was too late.
While I sat in the middle, eying my chips, and hoping everyone would calm down, it happened. Blind Eddie grabbed his chips and bolted for the door. The the Russian stalked off. And there we sat, the same rock garden as before.
Now the original accusers who had been nice guys before were surly and calling the red-haired lady "chick" and "broad." And that was enough for me. I played the rest of the orbit and then racked up and went to bed. The game was done.
Rule #1: When you have a good thing, don't fuck it up.<-- Hide More
It's the hand every poker blogger dreams about. It comes when the poker gods look down upon you and reward you for your committment to the HAMMER.
I had just moved from the deadly $2-$6 game to this fresh $4/$8 1/2 Kill game. I was joined by the rest of the G-Vegas crew (Otis, G-Rob, and Bad Blood) and ScurvyDog. The tables was filled out by a few grizzled locals, including an older woman who wouldn't be there too much longer.More in this Poker Blog! -->
The cards are dealt and I look down at the most powerful hand in poker, 72o. I'm UTG and correctly raise. There are, I believe, two or three callers, but none of my fellow bloggers. I was disappointed that no one raised.
The flop comes down 7-7-x. Um... jackpot!!!
I calmly look down at my chips and stack four $1 chips, tossing them into the pot. It actually felt good to not have to bluff with the hand. This time, I get just one caller, the old woman with the impossible-to-believe blonde hair. I begin to pity her, she has no idea what she's up against.
Then it happens.
The dealer peels the next card off the deck and rolls it over. The felt looks like a slot machine, and I'm the one pulling the handle. 7-7-7-x.
Quads. I believe it's just the second time I've ever had quads in a B&M casino. So what do I do? I think you'll all be proud.
I value check my nuts.
To my delight, the "blonde" bets. This is where I wonder if I made a misplay. I simply value call my nuts. I figured I could get more on the river with a smooth call. I think I should have raised.
The river is inconsequential. And I lead out this time. Should I have check-raised here, too? I was really hoping the "blonde" had a legitimate hand and would raise me. How could you possibly put me on a 7? Instead, she simply calls.
Before I even get a chance to show my cards, the "blonde" proudly displays her pocket K's. I would have been proud, too. In fact, if I had been her, I'd have lost a lot more money. She loses to just two hands: AA and 7x. I suppose you could put me on AA with my UTG raise, but that would make you a genius. How could you not raise me on the river, dammit!?!?
So I calmly flip my HAMMER and lay it down right beside the three 7's on the board. Suddenly, half the table erupts. My fellow bloggers are out of there seats with exclamations of "Hammer!!!!" and "Oh my God!!" I raise my arms in victory.
More bloggers are drawn to the table as the word of "Hammer quads" spreads from table to table. Unfortunately, no one has a chance to snap a picture because the dealer begins re-shuffling the deck. I hardly notice the "blonde" has begun racking her chips.
I stack my chips, allowing the glory to wash over me. Then I remember 4 of a kind means a spin of the wheel at the Excalibur. As I walk that way, I pass three tables of bloggers who had already heard the tale.
When I get to the wheel, I begin to tell the dealer behind the desk about the unlikely hand. As I begin to say, "And I can't believe she had pocket K's..." I notice she's standing right beside me, angrily checking out. I imagine she left the casino altogether.
But I suppose that's what happens when you doubt the power of the HAMMER.
I spun for another $100 and had nearly made back every dollar I lost at the $2-$6 game. Shortly after I got back to the my seat, we were joined by Hank. G-Rob was the first to realize he was overmatched so he went in search of a softer table.
A few hands of bleeding my chips away and I realized playing with Hank, Otis and BadBlood is significantly -EV. I would not advise it.
It was getting late anyway, and I had a tournament to host the next day. I gathered my chips and headed to bed. I figured no matter what I did the rest of the weekend, nothing would surpass the HAMMER quads.
When You Next Join Us...
"G-Vegas vs. The LA Crew"
Something wasn't right. I'd been on the plane for too long, so I obviously wanted to get off. But I didn't need to get off...now.
That's what was different.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Getting off the plane, I didn't try to sneak out into the aisle before was supposed to. At baggage claim, I didn't knock a lady over while trying to get my bags before her. Arriving at the hotel, I didn't jump a railing to get to the poker room two seconds faster.
I'd done all of those things before, but this time I didn't.
Maybe because I was just walking into the office this time.
So I worked, doing what I do, and occasionally stealing glances at my bloodshot eyes in the mirror. I should sleep. I'd been awake for 19 hours, working for about eleven.
But maybe I should go check and see if one of my featured players is still playing the Limit Hold'em Shoot-out.
Sure, I should.
I was walking faster this time, down a long corridor where the Arctic Cat convention had been eight hours earlier. A guy I know was walking the other way.
"Wait, wait, wait. Where you going?" he asked, now walking backward as I walked away.
"Just going to go check in and see if I've missed anything," I said.
"No...drinks," he said and rattled off the name of a bar.
"Might see you there," I said, knowing full-well I wouldn't.
My featured player had busted. Work was through for the day.
Five hours later, I laid in bed and listened to the desert wind scream through a little vent in my window. The sun was up and so was I. I've found myself in the middle of a month-long, marathon work session. My office is a poker room. My break room is a poker room.
This was the first day of a A Month in Las Vegas.
It lasted 25 hours.<-- Hide More
I wish I could imagine just how Otis, Bobby Bracelet, Wes, Joe Speaker, Easycure and others were feeling on Friday morning. In just hours that would be slinging chips with the most itimidating pros in the world and about 2000 examples of dead money. Our hope, as a blogging community, was that our heroes would not fall into that second group.
My heart was racing. Catching my breath was hard. My eyes didn't want to focus. And I was only there to watch.
Amazingly, I looked into the eyes of our blogger heroes, and I saw no fear. I saw awe. I saw amazement. But these bloggers did not fear the cards. They were poker players. They would not be afraid.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I was scared.
I was scared for them. I know I shouldn't have been. We sent a strong crew after the prize. As thousands of people crushed their way into the ballroom, it became clear that this would be a WSOP like none other. In the end, more than 2300 people entered event #2. That's a record number for any event, exceeding last year's 2200 for the main event.
Finishing in the money would be remarkably difficult. I'll let them tell their tales, but in the end, our heroes were knocked out one by one. I know Otis made it to the top 500. I hope their all proud, because they played smart, strong poker and got their money into the pot in a good spot. If the cards fall a different way, who knows.
I played the role of spectator with Otis' brother, Little Willie. After a great meal at the Sao Paulo (we avoided the buffet), we headed over to the Excalibur, our second home. Little Willie had to work off his poker rate time and in a few hours, bloggers would be storming the castle. I suppose we were the advanced scouts.
Amazingly, seated next to me at the $2-$6 spread game was Vince, the unwitting non-blogger in the H.O.R.S.E. game the night before. It didn't take long for him to fit right in.
I guess I wasn't really playing poker, because I was throwing money away. We were straddling, playing blind and dropping hammers. At least once, we live straddled and blind capped a bet pre-flop. Now that's action!
I gave my money away at a record pace. I wasn't exactly seeing great cards, but that didn't matter. I was playing poorly. One time I laid down top pair and Heather scolded me. So the next hand, I played my top pair against her to the river and she took more of my money with her two pair. Yep, that's the way I was playing.
Eventually, a $4/$8 1/2 Kill game opened up and I had to move. As much as I enjoyed my 6 hours at this crazy table (and it was a blast!!!!), I couldn't keep bleeding money that way, and the answer in my mixed up mind was to move up levels. Right??
And it didn't take long for my to drop the biggest HAMMER ever seen. Or at least I think so... but that will have to wait for another day.
Read G-Rob's trip report below...this is just self-pimpageMore in this Poker Blog! -->
My newest article in CardPlayer came out today. It ain't going to win a Pulitzer or anything, but I like it better than the last one.
I'm off for my month in Vegas tomorrow. Pauly says I won't make it until July. Sounds like a challenge to me.<-- Hide More
I'm not sure the woman was drunk, but we weren't, and I'm a good judge of another's buzz when I'm still clean. She wore tourist trousers, khaki bermuda shorts and a "Welcome to Vegas" T. In each hand was a filthy rack of Rio chips and on her puffy face a look of confusion. As she learned over the end of our table she asked a stupid question, "Is this table 135?"
I was to BadBloods left, which is like hitting cleanup behind Barry Bonds. Holy Steroids! Dr. Bicep is a better player than me, and with him to my left I'd at least have a good indication of when to fold.
"I dunno," offered Blood, "but you have to wonder why they hung that sign." He then pointed to the numbers, a foot in diameter, hanging above our table. BadBlood is a smartass. He and I were of similar mind.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I knew my time had come
The Rio was packed with those WSOP-wannabes. Event 2 was still underway and the stench of Hellmuth filled the room. We'd been warned that the game was soft. I also warned the waitress that I was well behind and would need her comfort.
An aside :
Ever wonder just how much of your Vegas bankroll is spent tipping? You tip the dealer on every winning hand. You tip the waitress for every round. In crowded rooms I always tip double what the other players do. It keeps the girls coming back. If I had gone to a bar, I'd have some estimate of what the booze cost, but if they're chips from a poker stack I really have no idea. On this trip the tips were a fair allowance.
BadBlood took a mighty suckout here. A fella called all-in while chasing his RUNNER-RUNNER flush. BadBlood made up for some of that by crushing me on an earlier hand. I came out even and the hands were pretty dull. I do remember this : Everytime the waitress came by she'd already have a full tray but she could never remember who placed the order. I'd just raise my hand and pull a bottle from the tray...every time she walked by...and hand her a tip. I never placed a single order. For some reason, it was always Corona, which means there was an angry bandito somwhere along the Rio Grande.
We played there for about 2 hours, which is far less time than we spent waiting for the table. The fabulous wives were done with their coasters and we were called to storm the castle. Most of the other degenerates were already there and the games were in typical blogger style. I sat down at a 4/8 half-kill and we put the whole table on tilt.
To enter the Delta
I sat down with CJ to my left. I think I was in the 4s. Further down, crap, was it Wes(?) in the 7s? and I know Otis was in the 9. Anyhoo, that's not the point. Actually, it is the point. But I suck at telling stories. Here goes nonetheless :
CJ caught the hammer (this is 7-2o for new readers) in EP and raised it up. He found 3 callers and the flop gave him trips.
All four players saw the turn which was CJs 4th 7.
CJ bet like he had it and 1 poor woman stuck around to find out. He showed his quads and she showed her dominated boat. She grabbed her chips and stormed away while CJ spun the Excalibur wheel.
Excalibur, which is exactly what a poker room would look like if poker playing 5th graders wrote a paper about the middle ages, has a cash wheel which players can spin if they lose with pocket aces or win with quads. CJ spun and took down another $100.00.
Since when are the dark ages an acceptable theme for anything? Yee-Haw! Ignore the purple sores! Kids Stay Free..Adults Die Young! The beer wenches dress like...um...beer wenches, the whole place is carpeted in a royal maroon and there's the unmisakeable feeling that all the customers are fools in a corporate King's court. Good thing the booze is free.
A few hands later, I also played the hammer. After a few more Otis did the same. Most important, it won every time. Soon the grumpy middle aged yahoos (I tried to tell them I was a bisquick saleman from Amarillo) were afraid of every 7 or 2 on every flop. If a 7 came, they were sure we had it and they were all ready to fold. Poker is stupid but its fun.
Soon, however, enough bloggers had joined our limit game to make it an impossible score. My bankroll sreamed in terror and my eyes scanned the room for the perfect NL game. I found it just a few tables back and the 1s was open.
Normally, I hate the 1 seat. I have a great view of the dealers left elbow but I can hardly see across the table. It makes it hard to read the morons. Fortunately, the monkeys here were unwilling to be read. 7 of the other 9 players were wearing shades. 6 were wearing hats. 4 of them were listning to I-pods so they could be entertained while they lost their tuition. Not a player at the table was a minute older that 22. There were some serious Poker-on-TV types here and I just hoped they thought "Celebrity Poker" was the real thing.
I sat down with about $200 bucks I'd brought over from the limit game. I was broke inside an hour. On one hand we had a raise from $2 to $10 and a caller behind that. I found pocket Q and made it $50 to go. The guy to my left called and the others all folded.
The guy to my left was one of those "community card" types. His buddies all pulled up chairs around him and after each deal he'd show them his cards. He had his own commentary on each hand designed to show his schoolboy chums his vast expertise on poker and he'd successfully proven his stupidity.
The flop comes all garbage and I kept my eye on his friends. All of them made it clear the flop was a whiff. One of them actually said, "Crap!". I felt good about betting my remaing $80.00, which he immediately called....With A-3 off.
The turn was an Ace. So was the river. I was too steamed to continue.
I stumbled away to find a new venue for my drunken moans and found my wife and Mrs. Otis cold chillin' in the Excalibur lounge. When I sat, both women were being carded by the wench-in-charge. I had another Corona just to piss off the bandito.
Moments later the act got to singin'. It's a Fleetwood Mac cover act and the first number was a medley of all the hits. The singer belted out the first familair tune and then strolled into the crowd with her cordless mic. She was rolling (frankly she was covered in rolls) into the second song, which I recognized but didn't know. Next thing I knew she was straddling my lap.
I like a good lap dance. I especially like a good lap dance from a lounge singer while my wife looks on. I have to admit I was aroused, and I let the singer know it. I bobbed my head to the rhythm and thrust my hips to the beat. She held out the mic so I could join her in the chorus, but remember I DON'T KNOW THE SONG!
So...I took the mic away...and sang my own words.
"I...I...I.IIIIIIIIIII...Don't know the words to this song!" I screamed. It was suprisingly in key by the way.
They clapped louder for me than they did for her. They should. I had bigger breasts.
My wife thought this was the perfect chance to instruct me of all the pleasures Vegas had to offer AWAY from the poker table. But I don't learn lessons well.
In fact, tomorrow, the worm turns. I made a poker profit from this stupid town.<-- Hide More
I know you're wondering... I never got anything to eat. I'm sure you never saw that coming! That means my first full day in Vegas was being sustained by a tiny turkey sandwich... and a Twix... a mini-Twix.
So, on an empty stomach, I made the brilliant decision to get up from the highly profitable $4/$8 table in favor of a blogger table. I picked up my chips (up $350!!!) in search of an empty seat at the H.O.R.S.E. table. I found one, beside Maudie. Who wouldn't want to sit there???
So I sat down, ready to lose money. Because, as we all know, blogger tables are ____ (fill in the blank).More in this Poker Blog! -->
And speaking of -EV, Kevin himself was at the table. In fact, let me try to remember who filled table...
1s: World Reknowned Professional Poker Player Chris Halverson
3s: AlCantHang (Replaced by Bobby Bracelet)
4s: -EV (Replaced by Boy Genius)
5s: Austin Matt (reader)
9s: Vince (poor soul who thought the H.O.R.S.E. game was a good idea)
10s: I can't remember... someone tell me!!!!
This experience was pretty much a blur. It was Hold 'Em when I sat down. The next dealer requested O/8. Then we convinced a dealer to deal us Pineapple. And finally, we started another round of Hold 'Em, but the game collapsed under it's own weight. I think it was like a black hole that was getting infinitely bigger by eating all of our chips.
I also remember plenty of live straddles, especially with "The Rock" in play. It was four dollar chips tied up with a rubber band. I'm not sure there was a whole lot of good poker being played here, but I can assure you, it was a blast.
Except for one thing... if you didn't notice Austin Matt was a little drunk. I'm sure he didn't mean to get that hammered, but there were plenty of bad influences. He was slowing down the game quite a bit, and many of these H.O.R.S.E. games are slow enough. I felt bad for the dealers because it's hard enough to get tips without someone dragging the game to a halt. We even called the clock on Matt a few times and the floorman played along. Did I tell you how great the MGM was to us? (By the way, Matt was much cooler by day three when he sobered up!)
As I mentioned above, at one point we convinced a dealer to deal us Pineapple. If you don't know, Pineapple is a lot like Hold 'Em. Except you're dealt three cards instead of two, and must discard one before the flop. It's supposed to increase the overall value of the starting hands, but for some reason, it had little effect on our table. Go figure.
When the floorman stopped by, he asked the dealer a very reasonable question, "Do you know how to spell? I don't remember there being a "P" in horse."
Bloggers to the rescue! We reminded the floorman how common it was to have a silent "p" in words like psychology, raspberry and jopke.
Somehow, I managed to lose just $31. The only hand of my own I can remember is when Drizztjd allowed me to Catch the Antichrist on the river. It was limit Hold 'Em and I hammered my pocket 6's early enough that we got to see the river for free.
When the blogger table broke up, I wandered upon a raging $2/$4 featuring April, Chilly, Marty, Otis and G-Rob. When Otis got up to presumably rest for the WSOP (or some other nonesense), I took his seat. Unfortunately, G-Rob had already tilted away, so I didn't get to play with him either.
I quickly learned what tilted G-Rob was the luckiest fish in the room. He was Mizzou grad who enjoyed playing every hand (a Mizzou grad, go figure). At one point, this guy (dubbed Brown Shirt for obvious reasons) cracked Marty's hammer with A3s. Marty had flopped two pair. April and I nearly cried.
It was at that moment that I vowed I would not leave this table until Brown Shirt was broke. At about 5:30am, I left the table. I think I walked away up about $15... but it was a blast. We laughed constantly. It was definitely worth losing all that sleep.
"Stargazing at the Rio... and I mean OTIS!!"
In the little town of Willits, CA, the waitressess have eyes like sea creatures and serve your food with a smile you know really isn't a smile. It's the same as Davenport, Iowa, where the entire collection of townfolk are sizing you up to make sure you'll fit on their grill come sundown. You eat quickly and ignore the tatse of bitter almonds in your food. As long as you make it out alive, you know you'll be able to forget Willits before sundown.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I was behind the wheel of a brand new, silver, convertible Mustang. Mrs. Otis sat beside me and worked to figure out how the one-slotted six CD changer worked. Eventually Jay Farrar's voice hit hard in the over-bassed speakers and shocked me back to conciousness. I felt lucky to have survived the town. The young blonde hostess at Perko's diner was the only one in town who wasn't fat or other otherwise disabled. Yet her eyes had been glazed over since we walked in the door. A tall, fat man with a ponytail was hitting on her and annoying the old lady who was waiting to be seated. I wanted to grab the young girl and put her in the backseat of the Mustang and drive her the couple hours back to San Francisco.
I doubt she would've been missed.
Nonetheless, I was getting out of there as fast as the Mustang's engine would take me. I'd been driving fast all morning, top down (even though the air was too cool for it), and mulling over the past six days. I'd been to Vegas then San Francisco (they call it The City, like they need the capital letters to make it better than Willits, CA or something). Now I was in Willits and bearing down on Crescent City, CA.
Redwoods and coastal drives were in the future and my mind should've been anywhere but back in Vegas where I'd spent my last night drunk, talking to a cabbie about his prodigal Malaysian wife, and arguing with some Vegas local at a 10/20 game about chopping the blinds. By 4am Sunday morning, I'd grown cranky and drunk without realizing it was happening. The solo ride from the Plaza back to the MGM had shifted my brain into some sort of do-or-die mode that would prove to be ineffectual and frustrating.
But there I sat on the corner of Highway 101 and some Willits byway, mulling over the trip reports I'd planned to write and wondering how to capture moments like 2am Pai Gow, dropping the Hammer on my first orbit of poker Thursday night, and watching my brother triple up in one orbit of a limit game.
I looked up from the window and sighed. It would have to wait for a while. I'd promised myself no writing for the duration of my vacation with my wife.. She, as many of you realized this past weekend, is deserving of just about every positive vibe I can offer. She deserves a lot and I give her a little and she rarely complains about it.
Plus, while in San Franciso, there had been another development that would change the way I looked at everything.
I looked up through the window of the Mustang, still waiting to turn onto Highway 101, and there sat a homeless guy. There were a lot of them up and down the California and Oregon coasts. When Mrs. Otis mused on the implications of homelessness and the seemingly over abundance of homeless denizens, I offered what I always do in such situations, "If you were homeless, wouldn't you want to live here?"
It was true, in a way. While a little chilly, windy, and on the rainy side, Northern California and Oregon are among the most beautiful places I've ever seen. And I've been around. If I were homeless, it's where I'd hang out.
I looked up at the homeless guy and he offered a wry smile. I looked down at his sign (they all have them) and found inspiration. Scrawled in black on a ripped piece of cardboard, the longhaired dude had written three words, one on top of another:
Indeed, I thought.
There was little question what the dude meant. Everybody has a ripped piece of cardboard and after all these years of clever witticisms or poignant pleadings, it's all pretty much been written. "Blah, Blah, Blah" pretty much said it. It seemed to say, "That's what I got left. Deal with it."
The car's engine roared as I pulled out onto Highway 101 and gunned the engine down the road. I looked at Mrs. Otis. She wore a West Coast Choppers beanie and a pair of cheap Vegas sunglasses. The wind whipped at her windbreaker and she seemed content. I should do better by her.
Our first night in San Franciso, I'd managed to get my GSM broadband to work and discovered an e-mail that was both intriguing and cause for concern. I won't go into the details at the moment, but it basicallly means this little vacation (ending here in a few moments when I board an eastbound Delta flight from Portland) will be the last chance I'll have to spend with my wife for the next month. Long story short, I'm moving to Vegas for the duration of the WSOP.
So, what does all this mean? Well, a few things. First, my trip reports from Vegas will be delayed for a bit. I have some neat stories and some things I'd like to write. Al pointed out that this past WPBT conference was not the same drunken bash as December. I'd tend to agree. While most of us maintained a good steady buzz, I didn't end up pimping hookers out from the Sherwood Forest bar or claiming to be the Surgeon General.
After reading "Blah, Blah, Blah" I toyed with the idea that maybe I didn't need to write anything. Maybe I should just leave it to the other great writers out there (by the way, I've been sneaking a few minutes each day to check in with your trip reports and have been enjoying them). G-Rob abd CJ have been holding up Up For Poker damned well without me.
Of course, that was silly talk. After reading some Dr. Pauly, some Christopher Moore, and that article in Rolling Stone about The Crew I decided I needed get back on the stick. And, so, here I am, in an airport, headed home for a precious few days with L'il Otis, before packing my bags and moving into a hotel for a month.
If anyone were to ask how I feel about this or what it all means, I'm not sure I could answer with any amount of honesty. While I'm inordinately plagued with feelings of guilt about leaving my family for so long, I'm also intrigued by the creative potential offered by a month in the middle of a poker maelstrom.
I'll have some more details in a few days. In the meantime, keep the trip reports coming.
I met some damned good people last weekend and was inspired by your personalities. Thanks for making me feel like more than I am and more than I'm worth.
Wheels up, once again.<-- Hide More
I always have the strangest dreams in Vegas. It was about 9AM on Friday morning and my wife was screaming my name while pounding the walls. That had to be a dream. It was, most likely, a mental device used to conceal the pounding in my head. I had been asleep for less than 2 hours and I was still wearing socks.
At 11:30 the blushing bride burst into the room with what turned out to be a brand new room key. The old one stopped working at 9:00 and she needed another. Go figure! I was dreaming about her at exactly that same time.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I comb it for TV
The wife tells me there's a poker tournament simmering in the Cabbage pot. With Bad (and Mrs.)Blood, Dr. Pauly, Maudie, and Drightksdv (sp?) already signed up, I figured I should grace the room. It was already 11:30 and the match began at 12:00. No time for a shower, but I did manage a fresh T-Shirt. I wanted to blend with the locals. I thought my hair style accomplished that. I call it 'queer eye for the all night bender guy'.
If I remember right, which is a stretch, tourney buy-in was $50 with a rebuy at the same price. I took stock of my poker skills and my layover buzz and payed $100 up front. From that point, the Plaza took charge. I drew seat 9 at table 2. But just before I took the chair the TD announced we'd go to 11 per table, and one gigantic turdburger (new player 11 by the way) demanded my chair. Fortunately, idiocy prevailed again. .
First the Tournament Director started the tourney clock for the first level of blinds.
Then, he allowed 6 more people to buy into the tournament.
Then, he created a 3rd table which I was moved to.
Then, 15 minutes into the 20 minute level, I actually played a hand.
Then, in level 3, I went upstairs for a nice Vegas shower. Not a euphamistic "Vegas Shower", just an honest-to-goodness actual shower from a hot water nozzle conveniently placed about navel-high. My gut was filthy anyway.
OTIS AT 8 BOBBY AT 9..and WHO THE HELL IS RUSS?
Squeaky clean with another new shirt but I still wasn't refreshed. My head was packed in styrofoam and tin cans distorted the sounds. Luckily the entire world agreed to move in extra slow motion and I was up to speed.
Before leaving for the Rio, I found a blackjack table near the lobby with an older asian dude playing 3 hands. Every time he won a hand he yelled "Eureka!" like he'd finally make rent. I sidled up and played 2 hands for $100 a piece. Each time we got a new dealer my new gambling buddy would go Elivs-flirt, and each time he got shot down. He actually refered to a beefy, balding woman as "Toots".
-EV my ass!
But like all G-Rob gambling adventures, this one ended when the money ran out. It was time to find the Rio, and the WSOP. It was time to sweat the people I could glom onto for some sort of glory. Otis, Bobby and Russ were all still playing in Event #2 at 3PM. I wanted to catch the fever. Why not? I already had the other symptoms.
I rode over in a cab with the wife and the Bloods. We found Otis and Bobby seated like next door neighbors at a garage home game. Otis at table 8(ish) and Bobby nearby.
I also saw Spiderman, but he looked like shit. He left the mask at home.
I saw a dozen poker pros.
I saw a guy who said he saw James Woods.
I saw Phil Hellmuth. I'm taller than him.
I saw Bobby and Otis bust out of the game. Both made the proper plays and lost a race.
I still had no idea what Russ looked like. I was with him in spirit.
Please note, it was now 5PM, and I was stone cold sober.
The worm was about to turn.
SO WHY DO THEY CALL HIM "GREENWOOD PHIL"?
Yes, my wife asked that about a buddy of ours from home. He's from Greenwood. His name is Phil. We aren't creative.
Phil was there to play Event 2, but like so many others found he was too late to buy in. The entries were capped at 2,200. BadBlood and I, both jonesing for a gamble used Phil as a dummy. We signed up for a NL game, with Phil 4 names above ours. We let him play and then picked his brain. He said the tables were soft.
It cost $450 per roundtrip ticket, plus another for each wife. We were thousands of miles from home. We had endured the worst hotel in the annals of history and turned out backs on dozens of long-distance friends. This is why we came.
At 7PM BadBlood and I continued our home game, side-by-side at the Rio.
And I started drinking.
More tomorrow dear reader.....
I promise...tomorrow I'll tell the story of taking the mic during a lounge act at the Excalibur to perfrom a Fleetwood Mac song I didn't know.
Good Times.<-- Hide More
I touched down in Vegas and I was hungry. The airplane meal consisted of a tiny turkey sandwich, a bag of chips and a mini Twix bar. It's certainly better than the snack mix or the peanuts, but all it did is make me even more hungry. I vowed to eat as soon as I got the chance.
On the shuttle to the Excalibur, I talked with a woman who was in Vegas for the very first time. She wasn't a gambler but I told her there were plenty of ways to occupy her time. I warned her that two things often get overlooked during vacations to Sin City: food and sleep. I vowed to eat something very soon.
I hit the door of the castle and felt right at home. I like the Excalibur. I've spent a lot of time there. I made my way to the poker room in search of my fellow bloggers, the madness that would follow and food.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I needed to find Little Willie, because he had the key to my room, but I'm never good at finding people in the crowd. It didn't take me long, however, to find the two biggest guns east of the Mississippi. Bad Blood and Mrs. Blood were sitting at a $2-$6 spread limit game. The guns so blocked the sun that I failed to notice a goateed Otis and the lovely Mrs. Otis at the same table. Little Willie was at the next table and I had my key. I was thinking about getting dinner.
It took my three trips up and down the elevator to find my room because I was completely lost. How I managed to get lost in the Excalibur, I'll never know. When I got back to the poker room, it was time to head to the MGM Grand. There was no time for food.
Let me start by saying the Grand's poker room is rather impressive. I would end up spending quite a bit of time there. Derek became the beginning of a poker blogger avalanche that would leave me wondering which member of the Minnesota mafia I had met. What I'm trying to say is that I have a hard time remembering names, and there were an awful lot to remember. Now if I only had remembered to eat...
The HORSE game was full and I told the nice people in the poker room that we'd take another table if they could set one up. In the meantime, I sat myself down at a $4/$8 half-kill table. I was a little apprehensive because I tend to play a little under that level, but I thought I'd give it a shot. Who needs food when you're killing at the table, right?
I could do no wrong. Early on, I played a hand blind out of the big blind. Next orbit, I straddled three consecutive hands because of the empty seats that filled up beside me. And I threw in an early HAMMER to set an image. It apparently worked. My chip stack was growing faster than I could count it. If only I had known the lovely cocktail waitresses would bring food right to you.
My favorite hand of the night, naturally, would be the HAMMER (this would be a theme). In MP, I raise, correctly, with 7-2 offsuit. The BB and UTG both called. Apparently, they don't respect me. They would learn. The flop came down 6-6-8. It's checked to me, and, naturally, I lead out. The BB calls me, but the other guy finally realizes the power of the hammer. The turn is a 9, and suddenly, I'm on an open-ended straight draw! The BB checks and I, figuring the free card might actually help, check behind him. The river is a deuce and I figure I'm beat. BB actually leads out for $8 this time. I can't fold (it's the HAMMER after all) and throw 8 more in the pot. He flips K-high. I flip the 72o. Ain't life grand? Eat that, Mr. Big Blind!!!!
Suddenly I look down and I'm at $1200. That's right, I said $1200. At a $4/$8 half kill table. That's like 75 BB/HR. I think that's a new record. I must be the greatest poker player ever. I even had to seek out my fellow bloggers and spread the good news. They were happy, but understandably skeptical. I couldn't understand why. I kick ass... that's just the way it is. I could probably buy my own restuarant at this rate.
That's when -EV stopped by to see just how soft this table was, and when I realized those blue chips were only worth $1. Um... so I was only up $300 at that point. I told -EV to go back and tell everyone. He said, "Hell no, I'm gonna tell 'em you're up $1400!!!" I tried my damndest to squelch the story, but eventually, the task was overwhelming. All I could do was eat my words. Damn, I'm hungry.
"HORPSE" or "Dealer, Do You Know How to Spell?"
I kept things in check, played it close to the vest, because I was sure the bride would be checking. I met her in 1994 when she lived across the street in a house with air conditioning and a vacuum. To my roomates and I, Hoover was just a man in a dress and he probably came to a few of our parties.
In the first few years of our romantic entanglement, she and I were like a hobo with a pet. I had longer hair than she and, at the time, I only owned one pair of shorts. They were khaki at first but had taken on a luminecent grey veneer from months of dirt and grime. No party was too wild for us and nobody partied harder.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I ain't no grownup
At some point, probably 2 children ago, my wife became an adult, leaving me to play catch up. I'm more responsible now than I ever was before, but for anyone who's seen me in Vegas, I can still tie one on.
This is the way we arrived at the Plaza. She was tired from travel. I was thirsty for booze. She went to bed after at 12 hour trip. I went to the MGM Grand looking for my degenerate friends. I'd see her soon, two of her in fact. She could smell me coming before the key card hit the door.
MGM GRAND 1AM FRIDAY
I don't remember who I saw first. I think I saw Marty playing 2/4. More than anything I wanted to play that mixed game and that's where I headed first. CJ was playing there so was Maudie and Al plus, apparently, most of the population of Minnesotta. I hugged Maudie, promised a shot with Al, and went looking for some free cash and amber gold.
I took the 10 seat with Marty and Chili already there, Otis and April soon followed. 2/4 is not a game for the brilliant mind, not at a casino too expensive for the working class, not in a room that looked like a singles bar with cards.
It was here that the phenomenon of very large-breasted Asian women began. Our waitress, Susan, was tall, slender, and stacked. Apparantly, somewhere between the M&M and Coca-Cola museums, there's a factory where these women are, literally, pressed into service. An Orient Express of Southern Comfort and Heineken was taking shape already.
_____ Some Actual Poker _____
I flopped quad Jacks at one point. This after a capped pre-flop pot. I was on the button with 2 other players. The 3s bet at the flop and the 7 seat raised. I realized there was no chance of anyone folding and no reason to slowplay..so I re-raised and the 3s capped. They did it on every street, and I made a nice pot.
Shortly afterwards, the same kind of no-fold 'em play put me on tilt. I resolved to keep my limit play in monkey rooms to a minimum. Banannas!
_____ End Actual Poker _______
Of course, I still had a full fleged tilt and went on a bender of super F-Bombs. By number 25 or so I finally go a warning from a floor man with good timing.
"How many 'Fucks' before I have to leave, " I asked.
"One more," he said.
So I tossed him a dollar chip, said "Fuck," and asked him again.
"That bought you one more," he said.
After the tilt I went back to Al's table and found him in similar vein. We marched to a place that would set us straight at once. We ordered 2 doubles...neat...and found Bill, Iggy and Derek already having the same. Normally, I'd have launched into the typical, "Bill you blog cracks me up!" But in my job you meet celebrities all the time, and I've learned not to gush.
That's the reason I came to Vegas, I can play poker at home. More than anything I wanted to get stupid with people who have standards of public conduct just as low as mine. No offense people, but you're just as bad as me.
That said, I returned to the table and grabbed the rest of my chips. $-60 in post-tilt stupidity. The Celebritiy tour of Uber-degenerates was headed back downtown, and I was ready to party.
SUITE OF DESTRUCTION 3AM
I have a degree in philosophy. At times like this, and very few others, that education serves me well. I spent years reading the great texts and probing the Universe for the existence of God. More than anything it taught me to look for EVIDENCE. I found it at 3. Here's a sample proof :
If God exists as the force of everything Good.
If the Devil exists as the force of everything Bad.
If Evil cannot exist without Good as a counterpoint
Proof of the Devil means proof of God.
Surely it was the Devil who arranged this Plaza suite. Al AND Pauly separated by fewer than 20 feet of dirty lounge. The Vengeful Thor of hangover booze and Medusa of the illegal weed. I knew what would happen if I visited that room and I knew instantly I had to go. My wife was asleep. The inmate had an all night pass.
A big crowd of the kind of bloggers I love was there in the 7th circle. We all had a goal in mind. If we could get JUST INTOXICATED ENOUGH this portion of out trip reports could safely be qualified as fiction. Medusa spread her terrible tenticles and Thor let loose a mighty roar. The lightning killed me swiftly and the light of God shone true.
"My wingman's playing blackjack alone," yelled Al. Breaking the repose. He meant the Fat Guy downstairs.
"I'm up for blackjack," yelled Iggy and I.
And downstairs we went into a -EV landslide.
A NOTE FROM THE FUTURE
The next night when Bad and Mrs. Blood returned to this room for more 2/4 madness, the poker room manager took me aside before he'd sell me my chips.
"Last night we let a lot of things slide because you and your friends all had one table," he said, "but tonight you'll have to tone it down"
"We can't have all the swearing and screaming because the other players don't appreciate it"
I was tempted to point out that most of the regular players at the Plaza also don't appreciate a bar of soap, but I promised to keep it quiet this time.
FRIDAY MORNING AT THE PLAZA
Sure enough the Fat Guy was playing 21. I couldn't tell if he was winning but it was clear he was powered by the lightning of Thor. Meanwhile Iggy and I tried to rig up a NL blogger table, which we did. It was just as stupid as the online version.
By 4AM I kept thinking I should call it quits, but Joe Speaker and Bobby Bracelet were still playing and THEY WERE IN THE WSOP 8 hours later. Surely I could hang out for more. We kept drinking and I kept sinking lower. I broke even at the blogger game and joined Al for a game of craps.
I DID NOT BREAK EVEN THERE.
At 7AM I stubled back up to the room. The damn key didn't work so I had to wake up the wife for admission. Moments later I slept on top of the sheets with my socks still on. And, little did I know, I was about to begin again fewer than 5 hours later.....
Which, obviously, is where I'll pick up again tomorrow...eh?<-- Hide More
I felt like a rum and coke. I'm a beer man really, but the mood was perfect for a sweet-tart syrup. The wife had the weary look, eyes extra wide, hair frazzled, and her attempts to smile made it seem like an extended frown had snapped backward from strain. The travel is usually the worst part.
It was about 11:00 when the 757 touched down in Vegas. There's a tram ride to the main terminal and an long escalator to the baggage claim. I called Otis from there.
"Don't tell me you're already here!" he screamed.
"I'm there in an hour," I belched. But in Vegas, time has no meaning.
We took the airport shuttle to The PLAZA, which means we took it to 5 other hotels first. It was midnight when we strode through the automatic double doors. They slid open easily and revealed the long line inside. That was the last part of our stay there when anything went as planned.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Oooops. Sorry. I like that show too!
There was a line at check in, but that's always expected. I used the time to call Al. He was at the MGM, with most of the other people I couldn't wait to see, and as soon as I finished the call I was ready to check in.
I gave the man my name and he started typing.
He asked if I wanted a king or queen sized bed. I said I reserved a king. He frowned and continued typing. The wife's eyes grew even larger and a storm was fast approaching.
"Sir, I only have a room with two queen bed," he said.
"So why ask me which I prefer?" I wondered aloud.
He then turned to the pretty woman to his left, who also started typing. It seems a queen size room would have to do, at least for tonight. But there WAS a silver lining....
"Here's a key to room 1707," he said, "its a king sized room for tomorrow. And here's a key to room 1703, a queen sized room for tonight"
I took both sets of keys and headed upstairs. The elevator took me to the 17th floor, which my wife noticed, had the same boiled cabbage smell we noticed in the lobby. At room 1703 the key worked and the door opened, to a room where the bed was unmade...
...and the TV was on.
...and someone else's luggage sat on the floor.
...and someone else was suprised to see us there.
Apparantly the clerk got the room numbers confused. It seems this is tomorrow's room and the key still works tonight. I think they were watching "SPORTSCENTER", and I DO like that show.
So, more cabbage, we went down a few doors to room 1707. That key didn't work. You know the type, of course, that little card that only works with just the right touch. I placed it, pushed it, rammed it, and eventually KICKED IT, right into the door itself.
That last bit provoked a good deal of suprise on the face of an non-English speaking Asian woman who was asleep inside that room. I'm a good sized man, about 6 foot 5 and FAT. The poor woman was scared to death.
And I was seriously PISSED as I marched back to the lobby.
"You gave me 2 sets of keys," I said, "one works and one doesn't BUT BOTH are to rooms with people already in them!"
He started typing.
It seems he wasn't SUPPOSED to give me 2 sets of keys after all. And it seems he MEANT to write 1907 on the second set, that was our room tonight.
On the 19th level of cabbage stew we finally found our room. Which, in Vegas, in June was 114 degrees. The air conditioner didn't work. They promised to fix it tomorrow.
The next night
After wandering the desert, I hit the vending machine for a bottle of water. The machiene didn't work. I went to the stairway at the end of the hall thinking a nice corned beef would be nice, and opened the door to the stairwell, which of course, led directly OUTSIDE.
I'd comment on a warm blast of desert air here but remeber the hall was hot too. Instead we walked onto a narrow balcony 19 floors above the "experience" below, a dizzying and mildly nauseating "experience" indeed.
On 18 I found the water I needed and went to the cabbage-a-vator instead. On board was a woman with a bucket of ice. She stepped off onto that floor and said the ice machiene was broken, which keeps the streak of bad luck alive in every floor so far.
In out next trip report
Well, its all positive from here. Even the expericenes at the PLAZA get better, but only because of the company we kept. I have plenty of wild tales to tell, but first we start with this warning :
NEVER STAY AT THE PLAZA.
After cab fare to the strip it is not a price bargain. And, of course, it is the worst. hotel. EVER.<-- Hide More
I'm home from one of the most enjoyable weekends I've ever had. Sure, finishing second in the Main Event was great... but it paled in comparison to the experience of meeting 70+ of the coolest people in the world. I hope you all had as good of a time as I did. And we'll have to do this again... soon!
This is my final word before I see so many of you at the World Poker Blogger Tour's second live event. To say, "I can't wait!" would be an understatement. It was an amazing group of people the first time around, and I hardly got to spend much time with any of you. It happened so fast.
I fully intend on savoring it all this time around. It will be a lot of poker, a little craps, and some great times spent with good friends. Could you really ask for anything more?
Tonight I prepared myself by playing a little live poker at the weekly double-wide game (although this time, we were in a garage). It was 12 players at $10 a piece. We played two rounds and I finished 1st... twice. That's a total profit of $160. I was playing to make money tonight. I wanted it for Vegas. The cards were good, but my play was very good.
I feel like I'm in a very good place with my game right now. Why do I seem to play so much better live? Why do I have more patience in a game where I see so many fewer hands? Maybe when I figure out how to answer those questions, I'll begin succeeding online again.
I said I'd begin my tally for gambling wins and losses starting on June 1st. And I get to start with a cool profit. I imagine even bigger and better things starting tomorrow. I can't wait!!!