Friday, May 30, 2008

Was it enough?

I did make the points last night, but not being adept at advanced math (or at least the logarithm part) I have no clue if I earned enough points to take over first for May....11th out of 75 in a $11 buy math whizzes know how much that was worth? I guess I'll find out soon enough when Al updates the standings if I got more than the 59.9 points I needed (my hunch is no, although JD felt differently last night). Regardless, the month should have a thrilling ending Sunday night as I try to make a second last-minute comeback for a monthly win. In March, I took over first on the pentultimate event and secured the lead on Sunday. I feel this time I am probably behind going into the last tournament, but we will see...

I am getting the Vegas itch again after reading the early reports from the WSOP. Today is Event #1, the $10,000 Pot-Limit Hold'em Championship. They are running lots of "championship" events these days. If you haven't done so yet, go over to Full Tilt Poker and pick your fantasy team: for a free and fun chance at prizes and freeroll entries.

I booked my flight yesterday through United for Monday, June 23. Leave B'ham at 6:40 p.m. CST and arrive in Vegas 10:40 PST. Another of those late nights...and probably midnight dinner in the Binion's Coffeeshop. Not sure when I will return home, though I hope it is as a member of what Harrah's is dubbing the "November Nine." (Am I the only one who thinks they are ripping off "Lost"?)

I will be writing some for the man himself -- Dan Michalski -- over at, so be sure to check that out. Still looking for more work if anyone knows of any.

I've developed a tentative schedule of some events I'd like to play. Plans rarely hold to form, and I'm sure something more interesting will pop up on some of these days, but for now we have:

June 24 $225 NLHE @ Caesars...probably won't happen due to my late night on the 23rd
June 25 $230 O/8 @ Golden Nugget
June 26 $150 NLHE @ Binion's
June 27 $330 NLHE @ Venetian
June 28 $330 NLHE @ Caesars
June 29 $1,500 HORSE @ WSOP....freeroll baby!
June 30 $225 NLHE @ Caesars
July 1 $230 HORSE @ Golden Nugget
July 2 $225 NLHE @ Caesars
July 3 $200 NLHE @ Binion's

That's a total of $2,145 in entry fees, $1,920 if you take off June 24 (I made this schedule when I thought I was flying in on Sunday). Pretty small stakes for many of you kiddies out there (large stakes my wife would's all relative). It depends how I am doing. If I bomb out of early ones I may regroup. And, as always, I will be playing plenty of satellites, which seem to be my bread and butter so I rarely pay full price for entries. I am pretty sure that if I win a second 2K package in the BBT I will put it toward these and WSOP satellites. I love that Harrah's has moved the satellites into their own room (according to the map I saw in the press kit I think they are in the room that the poker kitchen was in last year) so I will probably spend a lot of time in there. As a side note, I am terrible at online SNGs so as to why I excel at land-based SNGs is a mystery to even me.

I think it's fantastic the tournament options there are in town this summer for us low rollers. If anything, I'll err more toward Caesars and Venetian with their deep stack structures. The Venetian also has good satellites, and if you've never been there be advised that it's the best poker room in Vegas.

Thanks again to Al and anyone else who organized the BBT. Thanks to them I am freerolling in one WSOP event with another $1,250 to put toward the travel of my wife and me. I am very fortunate.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Funny thing happened on the way to phoning it in...

I was done with the BBT until the TOC. Trying to wedge the four nightly tournaments in between church league softball, time with the wife and any other things that popped up was putting a strain on the Kampis family. So having not done squat in the BBT in the past week and a half I was going to skip the last two tournaments if I didn't make some headway Wednesday night. Damn if I didn't win the thing.

I flipped quarters really good last night. Three times flipping, three times the wife called "tails" and three times the eagle landed. That allowed me to survive losing fourth and fifth flips and a 3 to 1 spot against a short stack. Then my AA held up against K8 on a king high flop and I doubled through the other big stack to take a big lead. I got heads up with actyper who unsurprisingly wanted to work a deal since he didn't have his TOC, but I wasn't going for that TOC equity buster. Actyper slowplayed his AA against me too long, allowing me to double pair on a turn and win the event.

This should put me about 100 points between JD Schellnutt on the May leaderboard with the two events to go. A first or second in either gives me a shot at another monthly win. Anything less probably won't get it done, which makes me lament the first week of May when twice I got three handed with half the chips and both times I finished third...what would those additional points do for me now?

On the other hand, I should have about a 450 point lead for the overall three-month leaderboard so hopefully I have the additional $750 locked up, which will be a nice Vegas bankroll/expense account boost. Let's be clear that what I'm about to say is not intended as criticism because, let's be honest, any of these prizes is some GREAT GRAVY and kudos to Al and the rest for making this happen, but I do agree with Lucko and some others that the prize for the overall point leader should have been among the most coveted prizes rather than a smaller cash prize. I understand Al's POV that he wanted people to play for the win (plus I think he said that was something that FTP agreed to add later on top of the already discussed prizes), but we all know how much short-term luck there is in this game so I just have a different POV that the overall leaderboard winner should have gotten a 2K or 10K seat as Bluff Magazine and others do it in their leagues. Give it to a player who does the best over 50 tournaments rather than one event. (And, yes, I would still think this if I was last in the I may have been in the Bluff league!) Just a different two cents from me, so don't anyone take that as criticism. This league has been a fantastic opportunity for us all.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Official WSOP opening press release

Here's the PR flack with a welcome to the event:


Unprecedented Main Event Format, New Event Mix, Player and Spectator Enhancements Set Tone for 39th Annual Battle for the Bracelets

LAS VEGAS, May 27, 2008 – Following a 2007 season in which records were broken seemingly every day, the 2008 World Series of Poker Presented by Milwaukee’s Best Light (WSOP) – and 39th annual – will deliver a new set of historic firsts from the moment the cards are dealt this Friday.

The 2008 WSOP runs from May 30-July 14 and features 55 different bracelet events in almost every variation of poker. The 47-day extravaganza unfolds at the Rio® All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, and is annually the world’s richest and most prestigious gaming tournament.

In addition to offering a record number of new championships in various poker disciplines and at a range of buy-in levels, the 2008 WSOP will include a historic format change to the $10,000 World Championship of No-Limit Texas Hold’em – commonly referred to as the Main Event – as well as a wide range of improvements for players and fans alike.

The innovations will be on display beginning Day One. The inaugural 2008 bracelet event is a $10,000 World Championship of Pot-Limit Hold’em, the first of its kind at the WSOP. The tournament also marks the first time since the WSOP went to a multi-event format that it has opened with a $10,000 buy-in championship.

In all, the 2008 WSOP will feature 55 bracelet events, including an all-time high of eight $10,000 World Championships and eight $5,000 championships. Tournament organizers also have included eight $1,500 championships in the schedule to create the most diverse mix of bracelet events ever offered.

“If you’ve dreamed of becoming a WSOP champion, this is the year to enter,” said WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack. “With 55 opportunities to win a bracelet, more $1,500 and $10,000 events than ever before, and same day television coverage of our Main Event Final Table, the WSOP stage has never been brighter.”

Perhaps the most notable innovation at the 2008 World Series of Poker will be a groundbreaking format change for the Main Event. For the first time in the WSOP’s 39-year history, the Final Table of the Main Event will be televised in primetime on ESPN the very same day that the WSOP World Champion receives their bracelet.

Once the final nine players of the Main Event are set on July 14, action will be suspended for 117 days. These players – to be known as the “November Nine” – will have an opportunity during that time to secure sponsors and coaches, study their opponents’ play and devise new playing strategies before reconvening at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino on Nov. 9 to compete for the most coveted prize in poker.

The Main Event winner will be determined in the early morning hours of Nov. 11 and, in a telecast first, ESPN will air its final table coverage that night beginning at 9:00 PM ET.
Amid these new and enhanced events will be a host of highly compelling player stories that develop during the six-week poker extravaganza. One of the most anticipated themes at the 2008 WSOP will be whether Phil Hellmuth, who won a record 11th gold bracelet at the 2007 WSOP, can further distance himself from the legendary duo of Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan, or whether either of these 10-bracelet-winners can even the score with Hellmuth.

Fans will be equally interested to learn if the longest-ever winning streak for amateurs at the Main Event will continue for a seventh straight year and whether the unprecedented international participation – 87 countries were represented at the 2007 WSOP, and five countries were represented at the Main Event final table alone – will continue.

As spectators navigate a more spacious and comfortable event layout – tournament and satellite tables will be spread over five rooms, creating more space in each – they will have a first-hand opportunity to see if any of the following records established in 2007 will fall this year:

Most total entrants for all events: 54,288
Largest Prize Pool: $159,796,918
Largest Ladies World Championship: 1,286 players
Largest Seniors World Championship: 1,882 players
Largest $50,000 World Championship H.O.R.S.E.: 148 players
Largest preliminary event prize pool: $7.1 million for $50,000 World Championship H.O.R.S.E.
Largest preliminary event top prize: $2.2 million for $50,000 World Championship H.O.R.S.E.
Largest Field of Players (non-Main Event): 2,998 for $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em
Oldest player to compete in a WSOP event: 94-year-old Jack Ury in Main Event
Youngest player to win a WSOP gold bracelet in the United States: Steve Billirakis – 21 years, 11 days – in $5,000 World Championship Mixed Hold’em Limit/No Limit

To enhance the overall player and spectator experience, a number of significant changes have been made to the WSOP tournament operations. In addition to spreading play over five rooms to reduce congestion and improve sight lines, other changes being instituted include:

To further safeguard the integrity of events – the most important consideration for all players – the WSOP has implemented a new Code of Player Conduct to more clearly define acceptable behavior during the course of the tournament and reinforce the penalties that will result from violations of the code;

Registration opens Wednesday, May 28, two days before the first bracelet event, to minimize lines;

The cage will be separated from tournament play to accommodate more guests, including a special area for Total Rewards Diamond and Seven Star members;

The payout area will be combined with the cage area to allow for expedited processing of player paperwork;

Separate entrances have been established for players and spectators, allowing both groups easier access to tournament areas;

A concierge service has been established for players to make hotel, restaurant, show, spa and transportation arrangements for any Harrah’s-operated property in Las Vegas;

No tournament action or poker play will be housed in tents of any kind;

Between national brand name chains and new options including sushi and a noodle bar, food service will be improved over previous years;

Expanded restroom facilities will be available throughout the Rio convention area;

Player information will be stored electronically to ensure quicker payouts to repeat winners.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

WSOP Rookie Orienation/New Features for 2008

The following info is a hodge podge of stuff I've picked up over the last several months of interviews with Harrah's/WSOP brass plus personal knowledge gleamed from way too much time in the Rio.

Also, if you haven't looked lately, I've added a lot of stuff to the Vegas Summer Tournaments calendar. It now has all of the events for the Binion's Poker Classic, Grand Poker Series and WSOP. Still need to add the Caesars Mega Stack, Venetian Deep Stack, Orleans Open and Bellagio Cup.

WSOP Rookie Orientation

By Johnny Kampis

Never been to the World Series of Poker? No problem. In this column, I’ll give you a tour of the facilities and share some tidbits you need to know for your first trip to poker’s big time. In addition, we’ll look at some new features for the 2008 incarnation of the WSOP.

First, prepare to hike to the tournament area even if you’re staying in the Rio. The WSOP is located in the convention area at the back of the casino, which is a good one-quarter to one-half mile from the main casino area. If you are coming via cab or rented car, go to the right when you enter the Rio’s entrance and direct your cabbie to let you out at the convention center entrance or if in your own car park in that lot or enter the valet lane.

Upon entering the convention area doors hang a right. The Amazon ballroom is the main WSOP area and is in the back left corner of the convention area, which is all the way down the hall after you make that right turn. Last year, Harrah’s had an outdoor tent in addition to the 200 tables in the Amazon ballroom, but after players complained about the faulty air conditioning and worrisome wind conditions in the tent all play will take place indoors this year.

WSOP Tournament Director Jack Effel recently told me that there has been a move to alleviate congestion that has taken place in the Amazon ballroom in the past. The registration area will be moved into a separate room, with 21 windows dedicated to registration or payouts. In addition, the satellite area will be moved to a different ballroom.

“We have the Cardrunners satellite room this year,” Effel said. “We have 23 tables and a fully-functional cage. There will be five windows for registration and payouts, and everything that happens in that room will be single-table satellites. That will be great because in years past the single-table satellites in the general population with everything else created chaos. Now we’re giving the single-table satellite area much love. We’re giving it the love that it really deserves, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Effel didn’t specify which ballroom will contain the satellites, but it will be near Amazon and surely will have plenty of signage directing patrons in the right direction. In fact, several ballrooms in the Rio will be dedicated to the WSOP this summer for the first time. Effel said another room will be acquired on June 14 (presumably after a convention ends) that will provide an additional 65 tables. He also indicated that the Rio poker room, which is usually closed during the WSOP, could be used if needed this summer. In all, the WSOP will have 274 available tables to accommodate massive fields. However, Harrah’s will not accept alternates this year so if those 274 tables are filled, no one else will be allowed into the tournament.

To enter any tournaments or satellites you will need a Harrah’s Total Rewards card. If you don’t already have one or forgot to bring yours, there’s a desk catty corner to the Amazon ballroom where you can get another.

There are a variety of cash games for both high and low rollers at the WSOP. They have been held in Amazon in the past, but with the additional spaces available they could be moved to a separate ballroom. The most popular cash games are $2-$5 and $5-$10 No-Limit Hold’em, with a dozen tables of each running at any time (sorry, no $1-$2 NLHE). You can also play $10-$20 or $20-$40 Limit Hold’em or $10-$20 Omaha Hi-Lo with a half kill. If your bankroll is bigger, use your imagination. There is no shortage of big buy in games, just watch yourself in that Chinese Poker game, ok?

Food is available at the WSOP Kitchen near the Amazon ballroom where you can get your share of overpriced pizzas, burgers, sandwiches, salads and other chow. For some reason, Harrah’s doesn’t offer comps in the cash games during the WSOP. (You will get $10 off a meal with any bracelet event tournament entry though.) The Sao Paulo CafĂ© is the closest casino restaurant to the convention area and offers a nice variety of food.

A recurring issue at the WSOP is bathroom availability. To help alleviate the congestion, the WSOP implemented staggered breaks during tournaments, which has helped some. If you have to go during a break and find a long line into the main bathroom just in front of Amazon, walk further back to the entrance to the convention area. Just past the entrance along the left wall is another bathroom that few people walk all the way back to. Using this restroom should save you time during breaks.

The schedule this year has a variable cornucopia of events, further moving the WSOP away from the “World Series of Hold’em” as poker pro Daniel Negreanu derisively called it a few years ago. Included on the slate are a record eight $10,000 buy-in events, along with a similar number of $1,500 buy-in events for us more recreational players.

Gary Thompson, director of communications for Harrah’s, said there was a real call for more variety among the parties who help give input into the schedule.

“We talked with the Players Advisory Council and the International Players Advisory Council and there seemed to be a real desire to have something for everyone. For the elite players, people who can afford a $10,000 buy in, they like the idea of having smaller, more experienced fields that they can go up against. It’s less of a crapshoot they say than an event that attracts three or four or five thousand players,” Thompson said. “At the same time, we want to have the lower buy in events because there are tons of people who have not had an opportunity to play in the World Series and don’t have $10,000, but who also want to have the opportunity to play in an event and win a lot of money.”

Included on the schedule for the first time this year is a new $10,000 Mixed Event that includes the five HORSE games, plus Pot-Limit Omaha, No-Limit Hold’em and Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw Lowball. “It was another thing that the Players Advisory Council said they wanted to try out this year, so we found a place for it. It will be interesting to see how it actually works because there are a lot of games,” Thompson said.

The biggest news in recent weeks was the decision to delay the main event final table from July to November, allowing ESPN to air it “plausibly” live (it will air less than a day after play is completed). The decision has been controversial, with some people arguing the pros and cons of the move. Effel likes the fact that the decision builds anticipation in the months in between.

“Obviously, the tables get turned as far as the perceived notion of who’s going to win the tournament, and I think that is a big thing. Traditionally, the World Series of Poker has been played out in its entirety and usually by the time the winner is crowned there’s a brief moment in publicity and then sometimes you hear about that person doing something and then sometimes you don’t. Like last year you didn’t really see a lot after the fact and I think this actually builds up the momentum as far as who’s going to win and the overall excitement wrapped around the final table,” he said.

Some have argued that players making the final table can then get months of coaching and study their opponents, which is unfair to the traditional end of a tournament. Effel argues that everyone has an equal chance to do this.

“Everybody is on a level playing field in that everyone has the same opportunity to pursue a coach, to train, to learn about their opponents – just as you would in any other sporting competition. Instead of you being able to see through the play of hands over the course of a few days playing the final table as scheduled, now you have time to really look into your opponents and improve your skills and really compete. The competition is going to be really tough. I think we’re in uncharted territory, but I think this can be a really good thing.”

There are a handful of new rules this year, as well. For one, you can’t use your cell phone within one table length of your assigned table, even if you aren’t in a hand. I recommend just keeping the thing off until you go on break.

Tournament officials can also penalize players for excessive celebration. Will we see fewer shark antics this year? Effel said the rule gives officials more leverage and guidelines to work around.

“We’ve always had a rule that any disruptive behavior could draw a penalty, and we’ve just gone beyond that because of some of the theatrics that have occurred over the last couple years to put the excessive celebration rule in there. If a person gets out of line, is yelling, screaming, throwing chairs – that’s disruptive. It clarifies now more what is considered excessive and what isn’t. It’s still not 100 percent and you’re still going to have to make the decision, but I think putting it out in the open for the public to see, that you do take this very seriously, then hopefully it will divert people from engaging in overly disruptive behavior,” he said.

Meanwhile, more major changes could be in store for 2009. WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack has said that due to the growth of the Series, he may look to expand further.

“Space at the Rio is our biggest challenge. I’m confident that in 2009 we will have an entirely new footprint for the World Series of Poker and I’m confident that…2008 will be the last year we play in the Amazon ballroom as our principal tournament area,” he said.

Asked if that could entail a move to another Harrah’s property in Las Vegas, Pollack responded, “The only thing I will say to that is the following – the Rio has been a terrific home to the World Series of Poker the last few years and in a very short period of time it’s become equated with the World Series of Poker. I think it’s a terrific host for the WSOP and I hope we’re here for a very long time.”

A late June/early July blogger gathering?

It seems there will be no big blogger blowout this summer, which is unfortunate because those are always fun. In 2006, April Kyle did a fantastic job of organizing the thing and we had over 100 at the tournament at Caesars, plus Howard Ledrer, Michael Craig and Phil Gordon (her crush) as speakers. There was also a wicked Roshambo tournament before the poker tournament where I think I made the quaterfinals before John Caldwell beat me. We also met up at a bar at Excalibur (the hotel home) for drinks a few times. Iggy creamed me at Roshambo for a Benjamin and wisely took 2% of me in the main event for a $120 profit.

Those days may be gone, but since these Battle of the Blogger tournaments should bring at least a few folks into Vegas in late June/early July I wanted to get a conversation started on a second small blogger gathering around that time. There is one going on at the usual early June time, but I hear few people will be at that. And while there would be few at this second one too, at least it will be something for the rest of us. I think Lucko said he was going to be in town at that time, as well as SirFWALGman. I'll be there. Who else?

We could possibly get one of the smaller outfits, maybe the Plaza (which has hosted BARGE before), to let us do a small private tournament. We can definitely get a mixed game going at Venetian or Caesars one day. We can certainly gather for drinks somewhere. Thoughts?

I could use the fun break from the rest of the action. I've been pulling my hair out this month at the poker tables. I'm losing live. I'm losing online. I'm losing in cash games. I'm losing in tournaments. Historically, I've done well in Vegas. Of all my trips there I think I left a loser only once (my 2005 trip to BARGE) so perhaps my luck will turn.

I'm trying really hard to find enough writing work so that I can make a comfortable living and only play poker for recreation (the "fun" fund, if you will). When you try to count on poker as a significant part of your income the game can become harrowing and the pressure is often too much. At least it is for me, but I probably just suck at the game too hard.

I had tried a new thing this year where I kept up with my wins and losses each day in a ledger. My goal was simple: win at least $100 a day and $150 on Mondays (the days I got rakeback from WPEX added in) for a total of $550 a week, or $28,600 in a year. Obviously, with the variance in poker, booking a win of any sort on any given day is a ridiculous goal. I think it caused me to press too much. After I was up nearly five large in the first few days in January it didn't really matter how I did on any given day, but after my total yearly win started drawing closer to my expected win to that date I became more and more frustrated. At the end of January I was still $3,000 above "par." At the end of February it was +$2,012. By the end of March it was only +$479. By April's end I was in the red at -$489, and now as May draws to a close I am more than $3,000 below "par." It's not that I'm getting my butt kicked (well, other than this month); it's more that I am treading water and not getting close to my $28,600 goal. So call me a quitter if you will, but I have decided to stop keeping track of my daily totals compared to the goal. I'll just go back to my older record keeping of marking down each live win or loss on a calendar and only marking down online wins and losses when I cash out or lose a certain amount online (like $500 or $1,000).

I do that for two reasons: 1) my goal now is to focus on writing or other miscellaneous income that does not involve gambling of any sort, and that makes the $100 per day grind harder to achieve, and 2) I think it will take some of the pressure off. If I am fortunate enough to earn $28,600 or more playing poker in 2008 it won't be because I am pressing or grinding. It will just happen.

I really think people set very unrealistic goals for themselves in poker. While $28,600 ought to be obtainable, setting certain win goals for the year may be unreasonable due to the week to week and month to month variance in the game.

This guy here had the goal of winning $100,000 in 2008. He hasn't posted since Feb. 5, when he was up a grand total of $250. You could get the feeling from his first posts and his posts on 2+2 that he was a bit of a novice getting in way over his head.

I'm amazed that I've been able to exist mainly from poker income for almost three years now. The problem is that I have merely survived, not thrived. I haven't contributed any additional income towards retirement (thankfully in my newspaper days I saved a lot -- the max of 25% between 401K and company stock purchase), and my bank accounts have slightly shriveled.

After returning from Vegas in 2005, I was hot as fire, winning about $14,000 from mostly playing 10-20 limit hold'em on Noble Poker in July and August. Results became more modest in the coming months and I showed a couple of results in the red. But at least I was having fun, with trips to Atlantic City, Tunica and Reno from September to March. My bankroll was shrinking as I won my seat into the 2006 main event at the WSOP and prepared to go to grad school when I returned to Tuscaloosa. Thankfully, during that best summer ever, I took home about $16,000 that let me go back to school and not worry about any student loans. I didn't play a lot of poker during my year in school, and decided to take one more trip to Vegas last summer after getting some guaranteed writing work. It was a nicely profitable month from that aspect, though not so much with the poker as I won only a few hundred during the trip.

By October, I was happily married but growing poor by the minute -- several writing gigs dried up, Rounder temporarily folded and I couldn't win at poker for nothing. Luckily, Rounder came back and I started winning at poker again -- if at least modestly.

And here we are today. I'm thinking about job hunting again. I like the freedom and flexibility I have now, but I also get bored here at home most of the day. Working from home is not always as great as you might think. At the same time, I really hate the thought of returning to graze on the cubicle farm from 8 to 5 Monday through Friday. The truth is I just don't know what to do.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A little Indiana Jones quiz

The day is finally upon us. Of course the movie won't live up to the hype (do they ever?), but Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull should be good fun regardless.

To mark the day here's a little quiz about the first three movies in the series. Some are easy, many are hard. See how well you remember the IJ flicks...

1. Indy famously shoots a swordsman in Raiders of the Lost Ark. What color were the swordman's clothes?

A. Red
B. Black
C. White
D. Green

2. Indy is surprised to find a girl batting her eyes at him while teaching a class in Raiders. What words are written on her eyelids?

A. "Kiss Me"
B. "You're Sexy"
C. "I Love You"
D. "Archaeologists Are Hot"

3. In what country does Indy encounter Marion Ravenwood in Raiders?

A. Pakistan
B. Myanmar
C. Nepal
D. Mongolia

4. Which character never enters the Well of Souls in Raiders?

A. Indy
B. Belloq
C. Marion
D. Sallah

5. Marion accidentally hits Indy in the chin with which object while on the ship in Raiders?

A. Iron
B. Book
C. Mirror
D. Whip

6. The club that is the site of the opening scene of The Temple of Doom is named after which Star Wars character?

A. Luke Skywalker
B. Obi-Wan Kenobi
C. Yoda
D. Boba Fett

7. Shortround was Indy's trusty sidekick in The Temple of Doom, and like Indy, he sported a prominent hat. But can you recall which Major League Baseball team's logo was featured on his cap?

A. Los Angeles Dodgers
B. Chicago Cubs
C. New York Mets
D. New York Yankees

8. The dinner selection at Pangkot Palace was interesting, to say the least. What was the name of the entree that came from a snake?

A. Snake Surprise
B. Snake Snack
C. Slippery Snakes
D. Snake Supper

9. Willie Scott is grateful when Indy brings here which fruit following the eventful dinner?

A. Apple
B. Pear
C. Orange
D. Banana

10. The cult in Temple of Doom are known as what?

A. Thugees
B. Sankaras
C. Lao-Ches
D. Crips

11. The opening scenes of The Last Crusade were shot in which Utah national park?

A. Canyonlands
B. Bryce Canyon
C. Zion
D. Arches

12. The Last Crusade opens when Indy was a teenager, and he nabs a cross that some treasure hunters have discovered. Which famous explorer did the cross once belong to?

A. Balboa
B. Hernando de Soto
C. Coronado
D. Magellan

13. Indy tries to escape the trasure hunters by running across a circus train. Which of these animals does he NOT encounter during the trek?

A. Bear
B. Giraffe
C. Rhinocerous
D. Lion

14. In The Last Crusade, Indy travels through a lot of Europe. In which of these countries did he not travel?

A. Italy
B. Germany
C. Hungary
D. Austria

15. Henry Jones Sr.'s Grail diary is signed by whom in The Last Crusade?

A. Albert Einstein
B. Robert Oppenheim
C. Franklin Delano Roosevelt
D. Adolf Hitler

16. In which flick did Indy NOT disguise himself as a Nazi soldier?

A. Raiders of the Lost Ark
B. Temple of Doom
C. The Last Crusade

17. Which film was the first to be rated as PG-13 by the MPAA?

A. Raiders of the Lost Ark
B. Temple of Doom
C. The Last Crusade

18. Which of these actors did NOT appear in an IJ flick?

A. Ben Kingsley
B. Dan Aykroyd
C. Alfred Molina
D. River Phoenix

19. Which of these creepy crawlies were not prominently featured in any of the first three movies?

A. Bugs
B. Rats
C. Snakes
D. Lizards

20. Which IJ grossed the most money at theaters?

A. Raiders of the Lost Ark
B. Temple of Doom
C. The Last Crusade

And the answers....

1. B
2. C
3. C
4. B
5. C
6. B
7. D
8. A
9. A
10. A
11. D
12. C
13. A
14. C
15. D
16. B
17. B
18. A
19. D
20. A

Anyone get them all?

Monday, May 19, 2008

When you are not playing poker in Vegas...

Things to Do in Vegas When You’re Alive

Now you may be a poker junkie, but even if you’re in Las Vegas, the poker capital of the world, playing in the World Series of Poker, the world’s most prestigious poker tournament, you still have to step outside and enjoy the scenery. Here are some of the sights you must see after you’ve taken a brutal beat the tables and need a break.

The free stuff

We’ll start with the sorts of things a poor, low-roller like me prefers – the freebies. Luckily, there are plenty of things to see and do for free in Vegas. After all, the casinos need some sort of attractions to lure you into their lairs in a city full of choices. Let’s start with the Bellagio fountains. The famed fountains, which number more than a thousand and shoot water as high as 240 feet, are choreographed to music ranging from classical to showtunes. Situated in the lake in front of the Bellagio casino, the fountains go off every half hour in the afternoons and every 15 minutes after dark until midnight. They are perfect for a romantic night out.

Just down the Strip are a few things close together you might enjoy. The volcano outside the Mirage “erupts” every 15 minutes after dark until midnight. The 54-foot high structure in front of the casino emits a show of steam, water and light that at least approximates a volcano eruption. A good place to view the brief show is from the second floor of the terrace at St. Mark’s Square outside the Venetian, which is directly across Las Vegas Boulevard. The square is a pretty fair replica of the famed corner in the real Venice. After viewing the eruption, walk inside the Venetian to admire the beautiful adornments, including the paintings on the ceiling and the Grand Canal Shoppes, where you can buy your special someone that something special after a big night at the tables.

Just down from the Venetian is TI (formerly Treasure Island) and the Sirens of TI show. I recommend this half-heartedly. It’s a cool show if you’ve never seen it, but the crowds that gather in front of the casino can grow large and make viewing the show a pain. If you got, get there at least a half hour early (shows are at 7, 8:30, 10 and 11 p.m.) to stake out a decent spot. During the show, male and female pirates battle it out on two ships on either side of the crowd in a display of pyrotechnics and acrobatics.

While you’re heading north on the Strip, you might as well catch a cab or bus and head to Downtown for the Fremont Street Experience. The $70 million light show in the sky features five different shows each night on the hour lasting several minutes over four city blocks. The action is projected on a canopy 90 feet over the pedestrian mall. While you’re Downtown, duck into Binion’s and walk to the back of the casino where you can still see the former WSOP tournament area much as it used to be. The casino is planning some major renovations to its poker room in the coming months, but for now you can glance at a table and imagine yourself trading bluffs with Doyle Brunson or Stu Ungar.

The not-quite-free stuff

Sometimes you’ve got to give a little to get a little. Among the sights you ought to see that cost a little coin, is the top of the Stratosphere tower, which costs about $10 to ride to the summit of the 1,149-foot structure. There are several thrill rides at the top. Try the Big Shot, which will make similar rides at other amusement parks seem like child’s play after you are shot up 160 feet and back down again at the top of a 100-story tower.

For the outdoor enthusiast, take the short drive to Red Rock Canyon, about 20 miles west of Las Vegas. There’s a $5 per vehicle admission fee. Once there, you can take your time driving the 13-mile scenic loop, stopping at points along the way to hike your way to the springs that first drew visitors to this part of the Mohave Desert nearly two centuries ago or to view ancient rock drawings made by the Anasazi.

Where to eat

A boy’s gotta eat, right? When you’re not chowing down at the snack bar outside your favorite poker room – or, heaven forbid, the WSOP kitchen – you’ve got to try some of these places while you’re in town.

If your wallet is fat, go ahead and splurge at Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House at MGM Grand. Main courses at dinner will often run $30-$40 but the eating is good. Also try Mr. Lagasse’s Delmonico Steakhouse at the Venetian. Bouchon by famed Thomas Keller and located mid-Strip, is a delight to the palate, while Chang’s of Las Vegas is an affordable Chinese restaurant in the north part of the Strip. There’s no better place to use those $2 an hour poker comps at Binion’s than upstairs in the Binion’s Ranch Steakhouse, which provides a gorgeous view of the city. And if you’ve never been, you must go to In ‘n Out Burger for a burger, fries and shake. You won’t regret it.

What shows to see

For the non-gamblers among us, Vegas may be most famous for its selection of shows, from major artistic productions to magician acts and very low-brow impersonation fests. There are several Cirque de Soleil productions in the city, but the ones that come mostly highly recommended are O at the Bellagio, Love at the Mirage (a tribute to the Beatles) and Mystere at Treasure Island. Tickets don’t come cheaply, however, as you should expect to pay $100 and up for most seats.

In a town that seems to magically make the money disappear from your wallet, it should come as no surprise that there are a number of magic shows. Among those worth seeing, Lance Burton: Master Magician in the Monte Carlo offers a good value at around $65-$75 a ticket. Penn & Teller over at the Rio (just a hop, skip and jump from the WSOP tournament area) are famous for revealing some of the secrets behind the tricks and tickets are on part with Burton. Mac King, a magic/comedy hybrid artist, is one of the best values in town at $25 a ticket.

If it’s cheese you seek, there’s no shortage of it in this town. One option would be to wander Fremont Street and wait for someone to hand you a “free” ticket to a lounge act (which, of course, requires the purchase of at least one overpriced drink if not more) or you could head to one of these shows: American Superstars at the Stratosphere features a variety of celebrity impersonators singing the songs those celebrities are famous for. You might hear Charlie Daniels followed by Christina Aguilera followed by Michael Jackson. Expect to pay around $40. At the Excalibur, you can sit down for a meal and a joust at the Tournament of Kings. Knights compete in a variety of contests while you eat your $45 meal with your hands. It’s great for the kiddies.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Back in the thick of things...and cool Binion's news

It's the ides of May and the blogger tournaments are starting to wind down. I am kind of glad. They are fun to play, but the nightly jaunt wears on you, and my wife says, "I can't wait to get my husband back." Last month by this time I was pretty well out of the running and skipped about half of the remaining tournaments, but I am in the thick of things again in May (probably still in second place after JDSchellnut's win last night. Evy could leapfrog me too.)

I look forward to the OE tournament tonight because I have witnessed some tragically bad play in the mixed game blogger tournaments, especially Omaha Hi-Lo and Stud Hi-Lo. Those high pairs are no good in that latter game people, and 4-5-6-7 is a terrible hand in the former, guys and gals. There's your two cents for the day.

Actually, it's funny I say that because I busted 3rd in the HOE event Tuesday with split kings to open. I raised and Chippy re-raised with 6-6-3 and caught two pair on fourth while I did not improve. I've been wondering about this obviously both hands suck at a full I said before high pairs are no good, and a hand like 6-6-3 is in no man's land. Is it a high draw or a low draw? Not much of either. However, I wonder when heads up which is better. At first I thought obviously the kings, but now I am not so sure. It seems with the 6-6-3 you are likely to either make a low (knowing your opponent will not make one other than runner runner runner runner) or a good high hand. But will those sixes make a high hand better than the kings often enough when it also doesn't make a low (for the split pot) to make it more profitable than the kings? Math geeks? Anyone?

Now if I manage to luck up and win another $2,000 package I wonder if it would be uncouth to use those funds to bankroll play in other Vegas tournaments rather than the WSOP? I plan to play some tournaments at either/or/all of the above: Binion's Poker Classic, Venetian Deep Stack and The Grand Poker Series at the GN so I am thinking I would thereotically put any additional FTP prizes toward that. Alternatively, I could buy into two $1,500 and sell several hundred dollars in shares to poker pals and use those funds to bankroll smaller tournament entries. Thoughts?

I still haven't booked my flight (though I booked Amy and me for the GN on July 3-7 as they had a special for their poker series...$350 after tax at a four-star hotel on the July 4th weekend...yes, please), but I am thinking of getting a one-way ticket to Vegas around June 25th, 26th, 27th. I would decide later when to come home, possibly with Amy on July 7 or later if I either win a main event seat or pick up more writing work. I've talked to Ted and will probably stay at Binion's again for most of my Vegas trip.

Speaking of Binion's (the staff of which I interviewed for the latest Q & A in the May issue of Rounder), you may recall (or have at least heard) that Benny Binion used to have 100 $10,000 bills in a horseshoe-shaped display in the casino where people could get their picture taken with a million smackers. Well, guess what? They are bringing it back, in a different fashion.

This, from General Manager Tim Lager:

"There are some things we want to do down here that we think will be big hooks for the property. Obviously, a huge hook for the property in the past was the million dollars display. We can’t do the same display anymore because those were $10,000 bills. You can’t get a hold of them. In our remodeling plans, in an area back by the poker room we’re going to do a display – when someone won the World Series of Poker they came out with the box of money and piled it on top of the poker table and took the picture of the gentleman – we’re going to do a similar type thing where we have the poker table set up with a million dollars and a Plexiglas pyramid to put over it so people can come in and take photographs, which we think will be a huge hook. Everybody remember a million bucks so we think that’s the kind of stuff that’s going to start bringing bodies back down here."

In the interview, Lager said the tournament area is going to be moved to where the old sportsbook was after that area is remodeled. I have always been a fan of Downtown Las Vegas so I hope these summer tournaments will draw some people to the area. Viva la Fremont Street!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Cake Poker anyone?

I signed up for rakeback for Cake Poker and registered my account, but I have found one sort of major problem...I can't get any money into the site. With ePassporte pulling out of the U.S. there is no way for me to deposit. So can any blog readers help me out? Any of you got an account there where we could do a money swap?

Friday, May 02, 2008

More on "live" main event table

I haven't finished transcribing the conference call I listened in on Thursday, but here's a few quotes from WSOP commish Jeffrey Pollack:

“We’re going to put the spotlight on the entire final table, celebrating the fact that they’ve outlasted and outplayed thousands of competitors. Now instead of there being one star who emerges from our main event, there will nine stars, one of whom will receive our championship bracelet on ESPN the same day they win it – the first time this has ever happened.”

“I think this same day telecast is really going to be a cliffhanger that will be must see appointment television, and really what we’re doing is shifting the paradigm. Now poker fans will be anticipating who will win instead of just talking about who won.”

“After several weeks of live play at the WSOP, there will be now be an additional 16 weeks of promotions that I think will lift the entire game of poker and further mainstream the incredible personalities that make the WSOP so much fun and so interesting.”

The chatter online about this move has been quite heavy. I can see both good and bad points. For example, players with momentum could lose it, international players (and also domestic ones) may have trouble making two trips to Vegas depending on what else is going on in their lives (although Harrah's is footing the bill). On the other hand, the final nine all ought to be able to score some nice sponsorship deals before playing the final table and will receive more fame and media attention.

A big question I've seen online that was answered in the conference call is that after all players are paid ninth place money immediately after making the final table, the rest of the prize pool will be put in an interest bearing account for the three months between play. I don't know the exact numbers from the past since I haven't looked them up, but I heard the number $20 million bantered about as an estimate of how much would have been put into the account if this were done in 2007. I don't know how much $20 million drawing interest for three months would earn at today's rates, but it will be a little something extra.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Plausibly live WSOP final table is a go

I'll have more after the media conference call at 1 p.m. CST, but for now here is the press release:

Final Nine Players Will Square-Off This November on ESPN

LAS VEGAS – May 1, 2008 – The World Series of Poker® (WSOP) Presented by Milwaukee’s Best Light today announced a groundbreaking change that will more closely align the televised presentation of the world’s largest, richest and most prestigious poker tournament with other premier sports broadcasts.

The last nine players of the $10,000 World Championship of No-Limit Texas Hold’em, known as the Main Event, will compete on November 9-10 instead of the originally scheduled date of July 16.

“Our intent is to provide an even bigger stage for our players,” said Jeffrey Pollack, Commissioner of the World Series of Poker. “Now fans and viewers will ask ‘who will win’ our coveted championship bracelet instead of seeing ‘who won.’ The excitement and interest surrounding our final nine players will be unprecedented.”
This change in how the Main Event final table is staged will bring the excitement and drama of high-stakes WSOP tournament play closer to millions of fans around the globe.

All other 2008 WSOP tournament structures and schedules remain unchanged. This announcement affects only the final nine players of Event #54, the Main Event World Championship.

Continuing the trailblazing efforts that have made the WSOP the industry standard, this move is being made in close collaboration with ESPN, the television rightsholder of the WSOP, and the WSOP Players Advisory Council (PAC), the commissioner-appointed committee of professional and amateur poker players who provide guidance and perspective to the WSOP leadership team.

"It's an exciting time for the World Series of Poker and ESPN," said Jamie Horowitz, senior producer, ESPN Content Development. "This adjustment will add a new element to a very successful and popular event. We look forward to documenting all of the exciting stories that make the WSOP Main Event the seminal competition in all of poker."

“This is a huge step forward for poker and more specifically poker on television because it will help create more buzz around the final table and that is good for all of us,” said Daniel Negreanu, a WSOP PAC member, three-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner and one of today’s most successful and popular poker professionals. “Not only will this innovative step create more buzz for the final table, the added time prior to the final table will help get poker mainstream media attention. I’m very excited about this decision and can’t wait to see it all unfold, hopefully from a seat at the final table!”

The 39th annual World Series of Poker will take place from May 30th to July 14th at the Rio® All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The Main Event will begin on July 3rd, with the Final Table being determined on July 14th. The nine players who advance to the Final Table will return to the Rio on November 9th to play down to just two players. The final two, will go head-to-head late in the evening on November 10th to determine the champion and winner of poker’s ultimate prize.

The winner of the Main Event is expected to be crowned in the early hours of November 11. ESPN will edit the two-day Final Table action and televise it in a two-hour program from 9:00-11:00 PM ET on Tuesday, November 11 just hours after the winner is crowned. This is akin to television coverage of the Olympic Games, where because of time zone differences, the telecaster schedules programs “same day” in primetime to provide the largest possible audience a convenient viewing time.

ESPN will begin its coverage of the 2008 World Series of Poker on Tuesday, July 22. Viewers will see two hours of original poker programming every Tuesday through November 11 (except November 4 when a special preview of the Final Table will be aired at 10 p.m.). Telecasts will be aired at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. July 22 through September 30 and at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. from October 7 through November 11.

Each of the players who make it to the WSOP Main Event Final Table will receive ninth place prize money on July 14, when the finalists are determined. Harrah’s will then provide each of those players with an all expense paid trip for two for their return to Las Vegas in November to play the final portion of the tournament.

From July 14 to November 9, a span of 117 days, players will have an opportunity to line up sponsorships, coaches, review the play of all their competitors, participate in other tournaments, and take advantage of the new publicity and promotional opportunities that will be available.