Friday, July 15, 2005

Less than 24 hours to go

This will be my last post from Vegas as I fly out early tomorrow morning and plan to catch much of the final table this evening. I haven't entered Benny's Bullpen yet to watch it live. Apparently, Vinnie Favorito has taken a hike. The ESPN crew tore down their old stage and reassembled it in Binion's in less than 12 hours. Pretty good work I'd say. The same black cloth with the "starlight" in it covers the walls of the room, including the old case where the Horseshoe kept the bracelets where all could see them before they were slipped on the wrist of each event champion.

Nearly all of the players and dealers have gone home, their Series long over. Only the few participants and hanger on remain, some of them hopping into the tournaments and cash games at Binion's. I saw a $10-$25 pot limit Omaha taking place, but most of the games are of the usual small fodder that Binion's runs. What was a fantastic WSOP is really already over as the final drags to its conclusion, the last time any of it will be held at Binion's. The casino is cashing in by selling T-shirts that say, "I caught the final table" in its gift shop, sans WSOP logo, of course.

People are gathering at various points of the casino to watch the event on closed circuit television. The most popular spot is the old diner just outside the Bullpen, where the final table is being projected onto a large screen. I walked up there last night and spotted Ted in the front row so I grabbed the seat beside him. Over to my left sat the Baltimore Sun reporter I had met earlier in the trip dozing off in a booth. A Baltimore man is among the final nine, so the reporter was trying to stay awake at 1 a.m. to keep tabs on him. It's 4 a.m. in Baltimore and the reporter has been here only a week so I understand his tiredness. It took me at least a week to settle into the new time zone and set my sleep patterns after I arrived in Vegas.

Neither Ted nor I had much luck on Thursday. I played the 8 p.m. again at Binion's and again departed early. I caught some of the robot finals. Hilton Givens and his Poker Probot took down first and the $100,000 prize. Givens also received a huge necklace with the words "GoldenPalace.com"

"You think this is enough bling bling?" he asked me.

Phil Laak will play Poker Probot today at 5 p.m. to determine the fate of humanity. Once a computer beats us in a game based not only on math but also on emotion it's all downhill from there.

Mike Matusow is the only name player left among the final nine. Phil Ivey and Greg Raymer were both busted yesterday. Raymer took a particularly cruel beat, his KK cracked by JQ of hearts after hearts fell on the turn and river. Given Raymer's good fortune last year he was probably due for some bad luck during this go around.

I ran into Brad "Otis" Willis shortly after Raymer's exit in 24th place. Otis, who blogs for Poker Stars, wasn't happy about the beat.

"He was the story of the series," Otis told me. "He was our story."

Meanwhile, I am drinking my last crappy cup of coffee at the Fitzgerald's Krispy Kreme as I prepare to sign off. I gave up the doughnuts about a week ago as they were unkind to my waistline.

Las Vegas is one of the most exciting cities in the country, whether or not you care to gamble, but the novelty has worn off for this poor old country boy. I'll be preparing for my next trip, probably a drive along the Mississippi River, starting in New Orleans, when I get back. Right now, I'm ready for that airplane to carry me home to see my kin. I miss ole 'Bamy once again and I think it's a sin.

1 comment:

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