Friday, December 17, 2004

Chapter 3... Day 2, Part I: Sherwood Forest and the Sam's Town Meet & Greet
"This little insidious thought terrorist has got to go or my radiant contagious smile will not be appearing as often in my future." - Charlie Shoten
Saturday 8:31am PCT... As I closed my eyes, I swear... the phone was ringing. It was my wake up call. Wake up? I just went to bed! I was still wearing all my clothes from the night before. I was suffering from mental dehydration and had a wicked case of cotton mouth. As I stared up at the ceiling, all I could think about was... where the fuck was Grubby?

Derek shuffled off to the shower and I fired up my laptop for a quick update of two of my blogs. The poker bloggers in my life wanted to hear juicy details of the trip... and the remainder of my friends back home wanted to make sure I was still alive. Everyone knows I'm a big boy and hanging out with Al Cant Hang is an adventure in itself... but partying with ACH on a three day bender in Vegas is like foolishly walking into downtown Fallujah with a squirt gun and a swizzle stick. I had about ten minutes to write. How does one condense a full day of madness in Sin City into a 200 word blog entry? I was working on a dial up modem and tried my best. I ignored the slew of errors, posted, and hopped into the shower. I got out, dripping wet when Maudie called. We went up to her room, checked out her view (much better than ours), and inspected the infamous, kick ass WBPT t-shirts featuring the logo she designed. Derek and I helped carry the shirts, Maudie grabbed her "bounty" and we headed downstairs. The time was 9:20am and our intentions were to get to Sam's Town way before 10am. We were on schedule... were... until Little Red Riding Hood was ambushed by the Big Bad Wolf.

It was still early in the morning for Vegas standards and we navigated through a slew of Rodeo families with small children in cowboy hats as they rambunctiously made their way to and from breakfast. I like kids, especially red neck kids. They're the cutest. However, my tolerance for little ones runs thin when I'm hungover especially in Vegas when you have a throbbing headache similar to the feeling you'd get when you slam a car door onto your fingers. I side step the wee ones like dog shit on a crowded Manhattan sidewalk. We finally make our way through the first obstacle and quickly head towards the front door.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see someone stumbling through a row of nickel slot machines. Poor guy probably stayed up all night drinking and gambling and it appeared he couldn't find his room. Just another victim of the depravity of the dark side of Vegas. I stopped for a second to get a better look at the unlucky fella. Holy shit. It was Iggy. I completely forgot he was in Vegas. Our epic meeting just nine hour earlier wasn't a dream after all. In Vegas, my short term memory was as spotty as my cellphone reception.

OK, so I found an inebriated Iggy who opted for more liquor than sleep. But Grubby was still AWOL. Just as I grabbed Iggy, I realized that the Sherwood Forest bar is packed with bloggers and King Al Cant Hang is holding court with his beautiful blonde bride... Queen EvaCanHang at his side. His merry jester BigMike kept everyone happily entertained with multiple rounds of hearty meeds and ales and a smattering of his loyal soused subjects sang his praises. Iggy's liver had been hijacked by BigMike just around the time I passed out at my laptop. He didn't look like he was going to make it as he slumped back on a stool at the bar. Within seconds, I had a shot of SoCo in my hand. Before I could consider the circumstances, like Pavlov's frothing dog and in a worldly Zen moment, the edge of glass automatically hit my lips as the nectar of the Gods struggled to make it's way into my queasy stomach, into my reluctant liver, and into my starving soul.

It was 9:20am on a Saturday morning in Las Vegas. I just inhaled a shot of SoCo with AlCantHang and BigMike before I even had a bite to eat or a sip of water. What a start to the day. What could I do to top that? A second shot of course. That one went down much smoother. Bad Blood was a little tipsy and gleefully showed Maudie and Derek pictures of Mrs. Blood and the mini-bloods. His 42 inch guns were proudly on display underneath a t-shirt that HDouble aptly described as "the best and worst shirt he's ever seen." Daddy never made his way back to Sam's Town and had been knocking back cocktails with Iggy and BigMike since 4am. Here is Daddy's take:
I've done some partying in my day. There isn't a man on this planet who can hang with Big Mike Cant Hang. He drank enough Southern Comfort to kill a decent sized village, and that was just in one 4am-8am session. Truly fucking amazing.
G-Rob was super tipsy and EvaCanHang was impressing the peanut gallery with her ability to knock back tequila at 9am with the same grace as Willie Mays shagging down a rope into the gap at the Polo Grounds. When Otis appeared, I thought we were going to have to call a doctor. His face was the same shade as the olive green jacket he wore.

"Otis, my man, do you need a doctor or something?" I said in my most serious tone of the entire trip.

"I thought you were one, Dr. Pauly?"

I paused and let my short term memory collect itself.

"You betcha. This doctor says you need a second opinion from Dr. Hang."

I have never lost a patient before and I would be damned if we lost Otis on the operating table. We were lingering at the bar when BigMike assured us that he was renting a stretch limo, a SUV Excursion, to whisk away to Sam's Town. Ah, we were with royalty. We were hanging with rockstars. Who takes a taxi in Vegas? Peasants! That's who. We were still on schedule but I made the first coinflip decision of the day to stay with the group. If I left and took a cab... then I was sure they would be super late or never show up. With my presence, it gave the group a feeling of urgency that we needed to get to Sam's Town as soon as possible. In a rampant stupor, we all bolted for the front door. The time was 9:35am and the limo was late. Who would have expected... a gaggle of drunks were early. That's Vegas for ya. Oh well. Thanks to BigMike for the hookup. He's one of the most generous guys you will ever meet along with AlCantHang. The reason their bar tabs are so astronomically high that it takes a core of engineers outsourced to New Delhi to compute the nightly totals... is not because they like to drink... it's because they like to buy everyone within a twenty foot radius of them a drink. To that generosity, I am thankful.

The limo ride was rowdy. Bad Blood had given AlCantHang a mix CD of various metal bands. The limo driver was blasting it for a while before I begged him to turn on the he radio. Of course he puts on a metal radio station despite the pleas of Maudie for some Frank Sinatra. At that point, Otis looked his worst. I mentioned something to G-Rob and he admitted that "There was an 80% chance of Otis puking."

"I'll take that action!" I shouted.

I lost another side bet. Not the first and not the last. My head should be struck off with a blunt object for making foolish bets like that one.

Late Bloggers

I finally caught a glimpse of Sam's Town. It looked pretty cool. As we all de-limoed, a group of young kids (a church group? a school group?) were getting onto a bus. They all stood in awe as AlCantHang exited.

"Hey what band are you in?" one of the youngsters shouted at AlCantHang.

"The AlCantHang Experience," he said as he scribbled down a few autographs.

Julie had told me later on that she though AlCantHang looked like a roadie. Rockstar wasn't too much of a stretch when you got long hair and have an entourage the size of a baseball team. The kids thought they were meeting a rock icon.

I eventually found my way to the ballroom and the first person I saw was the Poker Prof. I quickly apologized for our tardiness and I realized I was more buzzed that I wanted to be. The lack of food in my stomach killed my tolerance. I made a beeline for some fruit and water and talked to Dick Gatewood as I tried to collect myself.

Meet and Greet

I found Grubby finally! And it looked like everyone was trickling in. Linda from Poker Works gave me a big hug! Glad to see that she made it. I thanked and chatted with Charlie for a few moments with G-Rob and F Train about various topics. Charlie and I grew up in the same borough of New York, so we had that connection.

F Train, Pauly, and G-Rob with Charlie Shoten

I wandered over to Marcel Luske. He gave me his business card and spoke for a long time with Maudie about trying to get America to have universal poker rules... since each state (and Indian reservation) has their own set of rules. He was a very serious conversationalist and didn't act like that goofy guy you saw on TV. At heart he has a lot of respect for the game and based on his impassioned talks, I could tell he truly loved poker.

Derek and Maudie chat with Marcel

I got to talk a little bit with Ron Rose. He autographed his book, Poker Aces, for me and thanked him for coming. I told him I give him a good review on my blog. I was going to talk to Tom McEvoy and Kirill Gerasimov but because we were all late and short on time, Charlie's lecture began.

Charlie Shoten took time out of his busy schedule to help us all out and shared his experiences in life and with poker. He could have been playing at one of the Bellagio events, but instead he was hanging out with bloggers.

Introducing Charlie

He touched on some topics in his upcoming book No Limit Life specifically his Ten Commitments and stressed that how you approach life and how you approach poker is attributed to how you think about things. He hit some rough spots in his lecture but I got the overall jist of what he was trying to convey. Focus is key especially in any lengthy major tournament. And if you employ the Ten Commitments to your life, you will be able to overcome the Thought Terrorists and smoke them out of their caves. Halfway through the lecture, Max Pescatori and Evelyn Ng appeared. I read all about Max in some of Felicia's previous write ups and I was interested in meeting him.

Marcel Luske and Evelyn Ng

I felt bad that no one had any questions for Charlie. I think people had general questions, but thought he was fielding specific questions on his Ten Commitments. Next up to speak was Jeff from Check n Raise Poker an online poker site. He flew in from Canada to help sponsor the event. Check n Raise Poker also hooked everyone up with really kick ass jackets. Due to problems with customs, he was only able to bring a few with him into the country. I felt bad for Jeff. The boys at Homeland Security were giving him a hard time. He was giving out some cool card cappers and keychains. He answered some questions about his site and even suggested that he would be interested in hosting a bloggers tournament. I was glad that everything worked out well.

No Limit Life

Tom McEvoy spoke for a few minutes in a Q&A session. I quickly seized control and asked the first question. It was one of several questions I had carefully thought out to ask the professionals before I arrived.

"I seem to have trouble with AK. It's a hand that gets me knocked out of more tournaments that any other hand. Am I playing it too strongly or should I be laying it down more?" I asked.

Tom McEvoy during the Q&A

That got a light chuckle from the audience but Tom jumped right in to answer. He said the old adage, "In no limit, you have to win with AK and beat AK to be successful." He agreed that it's the most overrated and most misplayed hand in hold'em because the value of AK preflop is not very high since it's a drawing hand... and that's why it's tough to win consistently with AK. I was pretty happy that I got to ask a world champion advice on a hand I always seemed to have problems with.

Glenn asked a great question about the new generation of online players and how the professionals were handling them. McEvoy said he didn't have a problem because he plays online more than live games on PokerStars and has a better familiarity of the style of online poker players than seasoned cash game and tournament players. He even joked calling the site he plays on... RiverStars.

When Tom finished his session, we all mingled for a little while longer. Most of the pros had to return to the Bellagio to play in the NL event. It was cool that they stopped by. I ate some more fruit and bagels and courageously tried some orange juice. I got to sit down and chat with Linda from Poker Works. I read all about her tattoos and wanted to see them for real. She was completely cool and showed them all to me. Her journal was one of the first poker blogs I ever read, along with Iggy's, Mr. Decker's, and Felicia's old yahoo groups. Great to finally put a face with her tales about dealing poker at the Bellagio. I was helping Dick get everyone to pay him the entry fee and we discovered that Max Pescatori wanted to play with us, who would be taking Dick's spot who couldn't play due to Nevada gaming laws. We now had two professionals joining the mix. I wandered out to the bar, which looked like the size of an NYC apartment. AlCantHang bought me another shot and I collected a few more entry fees.

Santos' artwork

The Poker Prof handed me a special present from Santos. Above is the strip that the Poker Prof presented to me. Pretty cool, huh? If you have never seen J. Santos' artwork... you're missing out. I love his warped sense of humor.

Anyway, we finally made our way down to the poker room to play in the first ever live World Poker Bloggers Event... the Holiday Classic.

... to be continued.

Thanks Poker Prof!

Thanks to Dick Gatewood, Joe and Joe, Sr. for all of their help with the Holiday Classic. All of these pictures are courtesy of

Here's the timetable of the rest of my trip reports:

12.17 - Day 2, Part II: WPBT Holiday Classic Tourney Report
12.18 - Day 2, Part III: More blogger tables, Hammers, & late night hijinks
12.21 - Day 3, Part I: Sun. am shots and NFL betting at Mandalay Bay
12.22 - Day 3, Part II: Late night hijinks including Bellagio hookers
12.23 - Day 4, Part I: Aladdin tourney report & hanging w/ Grubby & Derek
12.24 - Day 4, Part II: The Brawl revisited and Late Night with Otis
12.27 - Day 5: Afterthoughts plus my fav. pictures & quotes

And here are the ones I have already posted:

Chapter 1: Day 1, Part I
Chapter 2: Day 1, Part II
As you can tell the timetable for my trip reports have been constantly changing. I have too much to write!! Stay tuned for more wild and wacky Vegas stories. There are plenty fo Hammer stories too. In the meantime, please visit everyone's blog for their kickass trip reports; HDouble, Iggy, Derek, Poker Prof, Flip Chip, and Foiled Coup from Lasvegasvegas, Dick from Buy It In Vegas, Riding the F Train, Boy Genius, Bad Blood, Bill Rini, Felicia, Glenn, Otis & CJ & G-Rob, Al Cant Hang & EvaCanHang, Maudie, Signor Ferrari, - EV, Bob, Grubby, Mas from Genius of Poker, Martin from JMC Automatic and Brian, Linda from Poker Works, and Daddy from Snail Trax. Did I miss anybody? Some are up, some are in the process of writing them, and some people like my brother are swamped with work, so I'm sure you'll be reading about this trip over the next few weeks. Thanks for stopping by.

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