Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Smells Like...Victory?


The Plaza stinks. Literally.

You know when you walk into a Vegas mega-resort and the cool, oxygenated breeze hits you, causing you to raise your head, close your lids and bask in its cleansing wave of purity? Walking into The Plaza is not like that. There, your first facial tick is to wrinkle your nose and wonder, "What the fuck IS that smell?"

I settled on long-dried urine at first. Eventually, due to the lack of a sharp tang, I guessed feet. But it was Chad who finally pegged it: Old people. Exactly. It smelled like impending death, like the adolescent field trips to the Rest Home with my church choir.

But the smell at The Plaza had nothing on the taste in my mouth when I woke up on Friday morning.

I had circled the wagons to make sure I wouldn't Hellmuth my first WSOP event. Wake up call? Check. Alarm? Check. Regardless, I was still in half-REM when The Poker Geek and Mike burst through the door around 9:30.

I'm up, I'm up.

I stumbled into the shower, which had the added bonuses of a) a low, brain-shattering whine from the pipes and b) improper drainage, allowing you to wash in ankle deep water. The Plaza stinks figuratively, too.

All things considered, I didn't feel as badly as I might have. Head was in fair shape, stomach only slightly jumpy. Lethargy was my biggest issue and the adenaline soon went to work on that. But Fuck! it was bright out.

Grabbed a taxi with Bobby Bracelet and others for the ride to the Rio. Had breakfast with the rest of the WSOP blogger contingent: Otis, Easycure, Wes and Russell. We also found out that The Poker Nerd and HDouble had been unceremoniously shut out of the Event. Negraneu breathed a sigh of relief.

The breakfast, was, um, good. Tasting, I mean. But I couldn't eat. Every bite was a chore. My nervousness was rising. My hangover was rejecting every succulent morsel of sausage, egg, biscuit and gravy. Even the mouthfuls that I managed to swallow felt like jamming a cannonball through my urethra. I picked at my plate for a while, but never got close to finishing half of what lay there.

As we walked toward the Pavillion, I dialed up the dear and patient wife. She didn't answer, so I started to leave a message. And I went mute. I literally could not fucking talk, the words abruptly choked off. I recovered after a few seconds, blurting forth a torrent of babble. A telling moment, I thought later. A funny one too, when I listened to the message. I sounded like a man headed for the gallows.

We took a few photos beneath the WSOP banner (whomever has those, I'd love to get a copy or six. Please let me know how) and tried to pass the time while the clock counted down on the big screen above our heads. Finally we took our seats.

We were a half-hour into the Event before I was able to unclench my butt cheeks. Damn, I was tense. I had to be one of the most inexperienced players there. I tried real hard to focus on what was going on around me as I folded garbage hand after garbage hand, but I didn't see anything of note. I didn't see any professionals at my table--or even any professional-type play--so I slowly began to relax. Still, no cards for me. I voluntarily saw a flop once (w/KdJd) in the first 5 orbits. Since we were 11-handed, that is A LOT of shit. Best hand I had was ATo. Under the gun, naturally, where I folded it.

Finally, I pop out a raise with AJo and get the (25/50) blinds. A few hands later, I get pocket 9s in MP and raise 3x to 150. I get one caller behind and we see a pretty benign flop: J82 rainbow. I fire at it, little more than half the pot, and he calls. Hmmmmm, that call was not a confident one. I certainly think I'm still ahead. Or that I can push him off a better hand with a good bet. The king on the turn gives me pause. A scare card for me, for sure. But for him, as well? I debate for a moment and give it a go. BAM!

What followed is the longest three minutes of my life. In fact, it was probably 20 seconds that SEEMED like three minutes. Jesus H. I may or may not have solid myself just a little.

Ultimately, he called. And unless I river a set, I'm F.U.C.T. River is a queen and there is no even marginally reasonable hand I could possibly be ahead of now, so I check and fold to his all-in, waving adios to about a third of my stack.

I was in deep trouble after dropping another chunk f chips on Big Slick when April showed up to railbird. Brought me some luck just in the nick of time. I limp UTG+1 with AJo. Weak play, but I actually wanted action here. I'm down to T450 and fading fast. I was hoping for a raise and I was gonna push my Boy for all his worth. I get my wish. Button raises to 150, going for what he soon admitted was a steal. He still called my all-in with T9s. I showed my cards to April before I showed them to the table, getting a nice laugh from her. I flop a jack, avoid his gunshot draw on the turn and spike another Hook on the river to double up.

They busted our table shortly thereafter and I moved to table 18, Seat 2. Which brings us to the hand of the day. I'm gonna tell it really good this time, Chad.

Hand of the Day: I was down to T825. The break was on deck. I'd had to pee for a solid 45 minutes. In fact, I'd once gotten up to scope the toilet, but soon realized there weren't any nearby, so bolted back to the table so as not to miss a hand. But now, with only a couple minutes left in the level, I contemplated getting up and beating the crowd. I wish I could tell you why I didn't. I had planned to for some time. Yet, when the announcement was made that the break would begin after the next hand, I remained rooted to my seat. A thought flashed through my head, "Hey, I made it to the first break!"

Dumbass chicken-counter.

I looked down in MP to see those skanky Hilton Sisters. I raised 4x to 200. Folds to the button, a young Asian guy who was even more metrosexual than I: professionally pressed dress shirt, carefully molded hair--gel content was a push--and schoolboy glasses. Little bastard comes over the top for 600. I stand defiantly and shout "You + Poker = Sucks!" and slam my remaining chips into the middle. He seems confused. Maybe he doesn't speak Fillmaff. He wants to know how much it is to call. 225. He wants to know how many chips I have left. None. He knows he's behind, has over-bet his hand, but he's getting nearly 8-1 on his call, so has no choice.

He sees my Hiltons and begins to weep silently. With one hand, he wipes his tears, with the other he flips AJo.

Oh God. Not AJ. Anything but AJ. Ace spikes on the flop. Young Asian Guy's tears turn to joy. Me? Shattered. Gutted. Pissed off. So I killed him. His chips were distributed to the remaining living players at the table.

Editor's note: Some Hand of the Day events may have been exaggerated/falsified for dramatic effect.

I wasn't the first blogger out. Just barely. Easycure went out just a couple hands before I. Of course, he got knocked out by a former bracelet/Academy Award winner instead of a bookwormy Asian. And he and I BOTH outlasted a few thousand other random people. It was cool to meet EZ, whom I've matched up against in several online events.

I was immediately disappointed. I didn't expect to make a big splash in this thing, but felt very fortunate for the opportunity. I'd hoped to use it as a learning experience and get involved in some play to advance my game. Thought I missed out on that. And I was beginning to feel more comfortable as the minutes went by. So I was bummed to not be able to push deeper. In retrospect, there were definitely some positives, namely that I don't think I'll be such a timid pansy next time I wade in to a similar event. I mean, I hadn't planned on playing in this year's WSOP, but I got to anyway. Surely, that can't be all bad.

I finally made it to the toilet and headed straight to the bar after that for a Bloody Mary. Went back to the Pavillion and found a group to continue sweating Bob, Otis et al and look around for some famous faces.

Jason, resplendent in his Jopke cap, went off in search of a Hellmuthian photo. Sadly, The Poker Brat was packing a couple meaty bodyguards. BG put the over-under of the muscle's combined felonies at six. We saw Devilfish (who made the final table) playing nearby, but a lot of the marquee faces were wandering around just like us. There were rumors of dozens of bad, bad beats.

I'd dressed for the long haul with both a long-sleeved shirt and jeans. It was starting to get stuffy in the room and at one point I mused aloud how "I wish I weren't wearing pants." Evelyn Ng, who was nearby, nearly fainted at the prospect.

No, that didn't really happen. I did get a quizzical look from Heather, however, who wondered if I had an exhibitionist streak. Obviously, considering I play much better online than live, perhaps no pants was an idea I should have mulled.

Several bloody marys later, a brush with greatness. Or at least with better-than-average hotness. I was standing in the lobby smoking a butt with Al and BG when we spotted Clonie Gowan hanging out in the "Put a Bad Beat on Cancer" booth. After a round of jokes centered on the idea of getting a picture taken with the three of us smoking in front of the booth, I hear a Dainty Voice behind me.

What follows is a fictionalization of actual events.

"Excuse me," The Dainty Voice says. "Can I bum a pen off you?"

End fictionalization of actual events

"Sure, Clonie!" I say, perhaps a little too loudly, as I whir around to face her and offer (the thing she asked for).

BG, charming sonofagun that he is, did most of the talking. I'll let him relate the details, but, suffice to say, if you ever are facing Clonie Gowan in a pick-up hoops game, we've got a solid scouting report for ya. Sadly, it didn't occur to any of us to get a photo with her. At least not until she was gone.

We shortly headed back to Sao Paolo for some grub. "Grub" might be too kind a word. We joined up there with Maudie, Pauly, Derek, Bob, Heather, Jason and others (I think; sorry, no notes) for perhaps the worst $18.99 buffet in recorded history. Yes, the hamburgers were surprisingly tasty considering their appearance. But I probably managed to eat $3.00 worth of food. I lifted lid after sterno-heated lid, only to find a rogue collection of blackened, over-cooked meats, some of them barely recognizable. "Survivor" contestants eat better than this.

We soon high-tailed it back to Stink Central (thanks for the ride, J), where I took immediate leave for a nap. Oh, blessed nap. How I love thee.

Next: Storming the Castle and Wielding Hammers


At 5:40 AM, Blogger Daddy said...

Great post.

At 9:05 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I wept when I heard how you got bounced.

WSOP is soooooooooo rigged.

At 12:34 PM, Blogger Easycure said...

I wonder if the pros just let Moneymaker win to sell the product, No-Limit Poker. pure genius, those pros.

You did good with what you had....funny thing about the bathroom situation is, I took my own break about 20 minutes before the first break. I missed like four hands.....too bad I didn't just wait a few more minutes....

Yeah, it was good meeting you too...you're not so metrosexual as you are model material. If you were only six inches taller.....kidding, of course.

At 12:37 PM, Blogger Easycure said...

And I meant to mention, as far as I remember, I never saw you in Vegas WITHOUT a bloody mary in your hand! Thanks for railbirding Otis and Bobby with me.......

At 5:04 PM, Blogger poker_ghost said...

sorry to hear that you didn't finish in the money, but remember its the journey not the destination (or something like that).

At 7:15 PM, Blogger peacecorn said...

Your trip reports are outstanding! Can't wait for the next one. And it was sincerely a pleasure to meet you in Vegas.


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