Last year, I struggled in Vegas during my trip to the WSOP until the very last week, when I finally had success in those two tournaments at Binion's. This year has been exactly the opposite as I've barely lost in the past week (knock on wood, cross my fingers, rub a bald man's heard).
The big one was last night when Scott, a buddy from Tuscaloosa who got into town on Saturday, and I went to Caesars to play the 7 p.m. tourney, a $120 buy in with a $100 rebuy. I was the shortest stack when we got down to 11 on the money bubble, yet ended up chopping it 3 ways for $4,200 and change. Tournaments are crazy. You never know when you'll catch fire and move up to the top.
That's a good omen as I prepare for the $1,500 NLHE at the WSOP tomorrow, my first tournament at the Rio this year.
I haven't played a hand of poker today. Stephen Ladowski, the fellow I met in Reno, called and said he was at the final table in the Omaha Hi-Lo today so I went to watch this final table that also featured Phil Hellmuth vying for his 10th bracelet.
Of course, Hellmuth was the last one to the party. He entered the ESPN final table area and walked around the felt, shaking each player's hand. Hellmuth paced the floor while the tournament director announced the nine contestants and noted that the Wisconsin native had another chance to win his tenth bracelet.
Stephen started sixth in chips, but couldn't catch a break and exited in eighth. The table is ongoing so I don't know if Hellmuth won.
I also had lunch with Gary Wise (www.wisehandpoker.com) who took me to the secret employee lunchroom in the bowels of the Rio. Gary told me he used to be a professional Magic player, with earning in the low six figures in tournaments of the card game. He met the likes of future poker players David Williams, Thomas Keller and Eric Forelich while playing the Magic tournament circuit.
"Little did they know, they were providing a breeding ground for future professional poker players," Gary said of Wizards of the Coast, the manufacturer of the card game.
There are hurricane force winds pounding on my hotel room window as I type and lightning flashes every few seconds. The weather seems quite strange for a city of Vegas' location and temperament.
It's off to study Harrington on Hold'em game and get a good night's rest for tomorrow. Blog you later.