As usual, the WSOP area was filled with the regular masses as I walked there for the first time Friday morning. The pros, the wannabes, the gawking poker fans -- they all mingled among the various online poker suites, merchandise selling vendor booths and registration area outside the tournament room.
I walked by Shawn Sheikhan, who was berating a friend on a cell phone call. “You went in with that? You’re giving your fucking money away. You don’t need to be playing $5,000 tournaments,” he shouted into the phone.
Inside the tournament area, it was the usual madhouse. Cash games were taking place in one corner, satellites in another, while the day’s big tournament took up most of the space. I hopped on a list for the quickest game I could find, which turned out to be $4-$8 limit. Per usual, I couldn’t beat a donkfest and dropped maybe $35.
What I have yet to mention was the girl I met on the airplane. We’ll call her Karen. We sat beside each other and ended up chatting the entire flight from Denver to Vegas. Karen is from Edmonton and was coming into town for a wedding. We also shared a ride on the shuttle to downtown and agreed to meet again before she left town. (She stayed at the Golden Nugget.)
We made plans on Friday to meet at the MGM that night before I was to play in a blogger mixed game. Karen and I went to the Centrifugal bar for drinks and to watch the barhops and maidens dance on the bar every half hour.
“I can’t believe I’m going to be in Vegas for six weeks,” I told her while sipping a Guinness. At that very moment life was pretty good.
We headed to the poker room after I gave her some hold’em lessons in case she decided to sit in a game and I was just in time to grab a seat in the $2-$4 HORSE game before it filled up. (Karen would later sit in a $2-$4 hold’em game and drop $40 before departing with a headache. So much for my lessons.)
I had no luck in the game, but enjoyed meeting several more bloggers and drinking with them at the bar. (I saw Iggy play almost no poker all weekend, but he always seemed to be at a bar, sitting in a high chair of course.)
Saturday figured to be more eventful as the big bloggers’ tournament was planned for 10 a.m. at Caesars Palace. I had to set my alarm (regrettably, since I was still way behind on sleep) and make my way down to the Strip. The new poker room at Caesars is just off the sports book and it is impressive, with different cash game and tournament rooms.
Several speakers took their turns in front of the crowd before the no limit hold’em tournament, including Michael Craig, author of “The Professor, the Banker and the Suicide King.” Craig related the knick knacks he’s stolen from various poker players, including Andy Beal’s watch, Chris Ferguson’s card cover and Ted Forrest’s Full Tilt jersey. (There’s a story behind the liftings that are too lengthy to describe at this moment. Craig isn’t quite the eager kleptomaniac as the previous sentence makes him sound.)
“I won’t betray confidence, but I’ll steal a pen in a heartbeat,” the author said with a laugh.
Craig is beginning to write his own blog, for Linda at Table Tango.
“I’m excited about writing the blog, writing about people calling me down with sixth pair and taking pictures of them pulling in the pot,” he said.
Jay Greenspan discussed his blog and his new book “Hunting Fish,” in which he travels from town to town across the country searching out the best backroom and casino games.
“I thought it would be nice to put out a book that documented that part of the game,” he said.
Howard Lederer took the microphone to discuss the current anti-online gaming legislation being considered by the House of Representatives.
One aspect of the bill that Lederer believes hasn’t been discussed enough is the provision that “forces banks to essentially become the cops” by monitoring financial transactions. He believes the move could increase the costs of the financial institutions, which would then be passed on to customers.
He also mentioned the provision that requires internet service providers to censor the internet.
“This is a practice that our government criticized China about,” Lederer said. “Apparently it’s ok if it’s something our government [doesn’t want on the Internet.]”
Lederer and other professional poker players traveled to Washington recently to speak on behalf of a lobbying organization fighting the legislation. The player nicknamed “The Professor” said he was glad poker finally had a voice in the capital arguing that poker was a game of skill.
“Poker has never been in Washington making that argument,” he said.
The senator to which Lederer spoke had a change of heart after hearing the poker player’s argument.
“Here was one senator who was neutral before our meeting and now he’s ready to move against it. It shows how foolish poker and poker players were not to be there until recently trying to fight [the legislation].”
Lederer believes the vote in the House will be closer than expected, which could bode well for the Senate tally. He said the American Gaming Association was originally against the bill, but now has taking a neutral stance on it.
“The idea of a prohibition is absurd,” Lederer said of online poker, a version of the game in which 23 million Americans play. “Our number one ally in the world, the UK, is heading in the opposite direction.”
Phil Gordon took the stage and joked about his best friend, Rafe Furst, winning a WSOP bracelet earlier in the week.
“I’m still working on mine, goddamn it,” he joked. “Talk about a fucking tilter.”
Gordon has made five WSOP final tables in the last three years without winning, while this was Furst’s first final table.
The tall poker pro then discussed the charity Cancer Research Prevention Foundation, for which he has helped raise more than a million dollars by convincing fellow players to donate 1 or 2 percent of their tournament winning to the cause. Gordon said Phil Hellmuth helped kick start the 2006 WSOP Put a Bad Beat on Cancer campaign by giving $25,000 from his winnings.
“I hope to make a $100,000 donation, which would be 1 percent of the $10 frickin million,” Gordon quipped.
The Full Tilter then emceed the Roshambo competition. To the unenlightened, this is Rock, Paper, Scissors with a mystical name. We all donated $15 or more toward Put a Bad Beat on Cancer for the chance to be called the blogger Roshambo champion.
Gordon had us all line up in two lines and pick an opponent. We then immediately tossed quickly to see who could take the best two out of three. Amazingly, as bad as others have whipped me at the game, I managed to win my first three matches, making it to the quarterfinals. I went paper first all three times, on the prevailing theory that your average Roshambo player starts off with rock. It worked magnificently until John Caldwell, proprietor of Pokernews.com, tossed me a curveball with the scissors opener. Having me completely off my game, Caldwell made quick work of me in the quarterfinals.
The winner of the competition, whose name escapes me, gets a one-hour poker lesson from Gordon.
The tournament had about 113 entrants, with the top 10 getting the cash and the winner getting the golden hammer trophy. I was never dealt the magical 7-2 until late in the affair and at that point felt it unwise to make a move with “the hammer.” I was earlier dealt Tuscaloosa Slick, or 6-2 for the unenlightened, but had to fold to a re-raise.
Because of numerous suckouts (QQ vs. KK, 77 vs. JJ, A2 vs. AT, etc.) I made it deep, but my luck finally ran out when Double As K-7 trumped my A-8. I had previously received a bustout bounty of aces coasters from a blogger I had not met and a signed dollar bill from Pauly, whose nines I cracked with A-5. Having nothing for Double As, I gave him my Bodog card cover. I bubbled in 12th with my ouster.
Iggy then proceeded to cream me at Roshambo for the millionth time.
I headed to bed early Saturday night as I was just exhausted from the first few days.
I decided to make Sunday my lazy day. No poker. No leaving downtown. And there was the matter of Karen.
As I said, she came here for a wedding. What I didn’t tell you was that the groom was her ex-boyfriend, a very serious ex-boyfriend. So it was pretty weird she got invited. To top it off, she discovered at the bridal shower Saturday night that he cheated on her by dating the bride while Karen and he were still together.
We talked late Saturday night and Karen told me she wanted to get sloppy drunk. I wasn’t sure what to expect beyond the getting drunk part, but things did seem to be lining up for a nice rendezvous.
So I hung around Sunday in the hotel room, waiting for Karen’s call. We met in front of Binion’s and proceeded to Mermaids to get the biggest, tallest daiquiris known to man, in souvenir plastic cups about two feet tall, and planted ourselves in front of penny slot machines. After an hour and half of reel spinning and daiquiri sipping, we walked our drunk selves onto Freemont Street.
Let me preference our next step with these two occurrences while at Mermaids: 1) Karen told me she had a deck of cards in her room, 2) She later asked me what the rules were for strip poker.
As we were in the street, I made the genius recommendation that we go to her room to play poker.
She obtained two rolls of nickels from the change booth at the Nugget and we headed up. I could barely keep my eyes open as we took turns dealing the cards. I called her down every hand, letting her take my nickels, and expecting her to ask for a sock next. But she didn’t.
Before we could play another game I had to worship the porcelain throne. Even though all I had to eat that day was a cereal bar and a couple of shrimp cocktails from the Golden Gate, I should be able to hold my liquor better than a girl.
I had to lie on the bed for awhile as I sobered up some and we played another hold’em game with nickels. This time I played for keeps and took her down. Rather than engage in any extracurricular activities, Karen wanted to get something to eat.
As Karen and I sat in the Nugget restaurant and I wavered between drunk and sober, I managed to let my glass of ice water slip from my right hand, dumping the entire contents into my groin and completely soaking my pants. It looked like I had peed all over myself.
The waitress had a laugh as we asked her for another glass of water and I explained my predicament. Not ten minutes later, I had managed to spill that one across the table top.
“I can’t take you anywhere,” Karen said in the manner of a scolding schoolteacher.
The waitress returned to survey the scene and could not contain her laughter.
“We need a sippy cup,” Karen told her.
“Don’t worry,” the waitress said. “My son does it all the time.”
Great, my motor skills had just been compared to those of a 3-year-old. In truth, the kid could probably run circles around me in my drunken state.
We finished eating and said our goodbyes. I was so sure something was going to happen between us. The stars seem to be aligned, but alas it was not to be. Karen flew back to Edmonton Monday morning.
The saying does apply – what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, unless I blog about it.
UPDATE: Just scored an invite to Hoyt Corkins' BBQ party on the 15th at his house. The pork is being flown in from Memphis. Guest list includes Esfandiari, Laak, Hachem, Raymer, Hellmuth, Lederer...
Other big news today is I'm officially blogging for Dan Michalski and Party Poker at www.pokerblog.com, along with several others. Pay is good and it's for a five-week period during the WSOP, with perhaps more opportunities down the road.
More on all the good news when I have more time to post... :)