Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Bloggers in Wonderland Part 1: Midnight Riders
"That was the gambling highlight of my life." - Joe Speaker
At this point of my life, all my Las Vegas adventures are slowly morphing into one large sticky conglomerate of memorable flashbacks. I've spent so much time in Vegas this year that it's hard for me to pick out specific memories and riff about them. Maybe that's why I've had a difficult time finishing my Las Vegas book. My mind has become a desert mirage to me. Las Vegas has overwhelmed all my senses and I'm floating back and forth between absorbing horrible bad beats at the tables by loose-mornonic tourists and slinging drunken slurs at casino bars with random bloggers while brushing off the advances of medium priced call girls with names like Chantel and Millicent. I often wondered if the past twelve months of my life have been a wild dream. Even the most creative vein in my body would never be able to conjure such a magical journey that I've undertaken. I'm afraid that I'm going to wake up one day and discover that I was taking a nap during one of my lunch breaks on Wall Street... only to wake up still wearing a dark grey pinstripe a suit and pitching pharmaceutical stocks to Northern New Jersey suburbanites and Upper East side yuppies and sad to find out that my life is just a day dream.

Alas, my mind is fried after a four day bender in Las Vegas with some old friends and plenty of new ones. I was so far bent that I missed a day of work. I thought Tuesday was the first day of the Bellagio WPT event. Nope. It was Monday and I had no clue. You lose all concept of time in Las Vegas. So, I will do my best to describe the last few days and unravel all those joyous memories of the second annual Holiday Classic in Las Vegas with over 100 of your favorite poker bloggers.


Derek and I discovered that F Train was on our flight from JFK to Las Vegas. We changed our flights at the last minute after I had to go home to NYC for my grandmother's funeral. I didn't get any sleep he week leading up to the blogger event. Sure I was fatigued, but I knew I wouldn't get any sleep on the flight after I got stuck in the last row by the bathrooms. The only good thing was being able to shoot the shit with the JetBlue flight attendants. One of them has worked my last four flights to/from Las Vegas. She knows my drink order and gives me extra snacks. I watched The OC and a VH1 Classic documentary on AC/DC and a special on the 25th anniversary of the death of John Lennon, while I eagerly awaited the touchdown of my flight from NYC.

Iggy and Grubby picked us up at the airport. They drove us to the Imperial Palace. I've never stayed in the IP before. I've often described it as "ghetto" and a downtown style casino for a center strip property. It's really not that bad, except for the fact it's one tough maze to navigate. I've been there for a few days already and I still get lost.

At the check-in desk, I slipped the clerk a $100 bill to make sure Derek got a good room. I actually had two rooms. One for 11 days (since I'd be covering the WPT Bellagio event) and the other one for 4 days that Derek would stay in when Jaxia arrived on Friday. The rooms were decent (renovated... which made me wonder what the unrenovated rooms looked like) and we got strip views with a balcony. We checked in and headed to the Excalibur. I head that mostly everyone in Vegas was at the MGM poker room and ready to migrate to the Castle once they got word that Derek and I arrived in Sin City.

As I walked into the poker room, Otis was the first one I saw. He ran up and gave me a big hug. He had been on a bad run since he arrived in Vegas and missed the money in a MGM tourney a few hours earlier. Otis said something in his Ozark/G-Vegas drawl like, "This was the happiest moment I've had all day. Great to see you buddy."

Otis has a man crush on me and is too stubborn to admit it. That's OK. I still like busting his balls about it.

I was seated at Dr. Jeff's $2-6 table along with Derek. Here was the lineup that kept changing all night long:
Seat 1: Travis
Seat 2: Pauly
Seat 3: Gracie then Iggy
Seat 4: Derek
Seat 5: Ryan
Seat 6: GRob
Seat 7: Dr. Jeff
Seat 8: Gamecock
Seat 9: Obie
I can't recall the hands and I took very few notes. I wanted to let everything soak in and enjoy every second of playing with some of my favorite bloggers. I kept giving Gamecock shit. Everytime he raised a pot, I asked the dealer to check his ID. I scanned the room and found everyone who was playing. Grubby sat at a table with on_thg, Iggy, BG, Maudie, and Sox Lover, who I finally met for the first time. Bad Blood, Drizz, Joe Speaker, Chadarama all played at the same NL table in the corner. There's an embarrassing story about me walking up to the table that I'm sure Joe Speaker will write about. Needless to say, it felt good to stroll through the poker room and see so many familiar faces. After one of the toughest weeks that I had all year, it felt great to finally be amongst friends and kick back and have a few laughs and several drinks.

Drizz was shithoused drunk. It was his birthday after all. It was great to see him having such a good time.

Joanne finally arrived with a soused EvaCanHang. She had been pounding drinks in the AlCantHang suite with his entourage. I finally met Joanne and her husband for the first time. I also spotted both Aprils, Heather, Lewey, CJ, DrChacko, Chilly, Pablo, Marty, BigMike, Brian, Bill Rini, TeamScottSmith, The Mark, ShepSmith and a few others that I can't remember at this point. Everyone was pumped that Derek and I made it.

I was in Las Vegas for less than three hours before I heard the first Lewey badbeat story. He cracked Aces twice at the MGM, once with pocket tens and the other time with J-6. Finally, someone else feels my pain. A few hours after I first met Lewey 18 months ago, he cracked my Kings and put me on tilt for three weeks after that vicious beat.

Well we played at the Excalibur until 5am after donking off a few chips and winning a few prop bets with Grubby after betting on wheel spins. When we got back to the IP, I spotted a few of the LA guys playing blackjack with BG. Ephro, Absinthe, and HDouble were playing -EV games just before sun up. I tried to write a bit, but I was too tired. I passed out with the sun slowly creeping over the mountains.


I woke up when Daddy called to tell me that "the donkey fucker had officially arrived in Las Vegas." Derek and I went downstairs and awaited Jaxia's arrival. We stopped off at the poker room and hung out with Joanne while we watched a few other bloggers play. That's when I ran into Peter for the first time. He came all the way from England for the event, which was pretty fuckin cool if you asked me. He took the longest journey and did not know one anyone, therefore I was impressed with his leap of faith. It reminded me of what Maudie did last December when she showed up not knowing a soul and being someone from a completely different background than everyone else. And she fit in perfectly. It also reminded of when Travis came down from Toronto last year without knowing anyone. These folks, along with dozens of others who made the trek this year and last June, came down without meeting anyone and were able to hang out without any problems.

I made my way downstairs and met Jaxia after she came took a taxi from the airport. We met for the first time several weeks ago in Las Vegas and have definitely spent a lot of time getting to know each other in the last few weeks. I think it's the Texas drawl that makes me smile the most, but I'm glad I was able to make it out to see her and everyone else.

Derek, Jaxia, and I headed over to Ferrara's in the Forum Shop at Caesar's Palace for a late lunch/early dinner. It's one of my favorite Italian places in Las Vegas and the desserts are scrumcious. I had the penne vodka with garlic sauteed mushrooms and chunks of marinated chicken. Jaxia had never eaten a canoli before and we made sure she had her first one at Ferrara's.

I bumped into Colombo in the elevator. As soon as he opened his mouth, I knew it was him. I recognized his voice from the Lord Admiral Radio show.

We headed up to the Al Cant Hang penthouse. I met TrumpJosh for the first time. We used to play on Party Poker together many many moons ago and it was cool to meet him or the first time. Very cool dude. He stocked the bar for Al and we did shots of SoCo. Afterwards we met up with Joaquin the Rooster and took the monorail to the MGM. Joaquin did a very cool thing and got the MGM to spread three tables of mixed games... two HORSE and one Razz. I was seated at one of the HORSE tables. Jaxia didn't know how to play O-S-E. I gave her some quick Razz lessons a few weeks ago on Full Tilt and gave her a quick tutorial on the other games. Brandon Schaefer also helped her out with some advice.

Oh, as soon as I walked into the poker room, Chris Moneymaker walked right by me. Did anyone else see him on Friday night?

Here was the lineup:
Seat 1: Derek
Seat 2: Maudie and AlCantHang
Seat 3: Pauly
Seat 4: Jaxia
Seat 5: TrumpJosh and Brandon Schaefer
Seat 6: Peter and Ephro
Seat 7: Poker Prof and Daddy and Spaceman
Seat 8: Gracie
Seat 9: Heather and Travis
In the first hour, I had to do the first rebuy. At least the booze was flowing fast. I flopped sets three times and none of them held up. I ended up donking off about $100. I called Brandon Schaefer and he stopped by. He even got onto our table and virtually gave all his buy-ins away to bloggers and the dealers. He tipped a few of them huge amounts. The MGM dealers loved Brandon. The Poker Nerd sweated me for a while and we got to catch up a bit.

Then I met Mean Gene for the first time. Mean Fuckin' Gene. Are you shitting me? He was one of the original bloggers that I had never met and I finally got that chance.

Eventually Wil Wheaton showed up with special guest Paul Phillips. We all chatted for a few minutes and although Paul said he didn't read too many blogs, he admitted he read mine from time to time. I also spotted Phil Gordon playing 5-5 NL with HDouble. In one of the best stories I heard in a long long time, Rachel aka Mrs. Human Head took our favorite Tiltboy on in a heads up game of Roshambo. Both Joe Speaker and Human Head staked her for $200. With her devastating smile and cat like reflexes, she headed right to Phil Gordon's table. She waved her $200 and offered him a challenge. Phil "Tiltboy" Gordon quickly accepted.

The result was staggering. Rachel Head took down Phil Gordon and walked away $200 richer. The news spread fast through the poker room and Phil Gordon quickly went on tilt in his NL game. I tracked down Mrs. Head at the bar and both Joe Speaker and Human Head filled me in on the details. It was tied 1-1 and she eventually took down Phil. She had paper over rock, rock over scissors, and then Phil Gordon went rock several times in a row, and she got him with paper. I whipped out my recorder and conducted a winner's interview with Mrs. Head at the bar near the sports book. Because she was a little shy and very drunk, she asked me not to post it or hand it over to Lord Admiral. But I'll blog excerpts for you.

"Do you really have the goods?" I asked.

"I had the goods," Mrs. Head answered.

"So how did you do it? Any secret strategy?"

"Woman's intuition," she said.

"What are you going to do with the money? Blow it on craps with Obie?"

"Not craps. Maybe I'll blow it on Let It Ride."

"That was the gambling highlight of my life," admitted Joe Speaker.

"Unbelievable," responded an overwhelmed Mrs. Head.

By the way, Human Head and I decided that we are going to stake Mrs. Head in the Roshambo event at the 2006 WSOP. She's going to represent the bloggers.

I cornered Phil Gordon and got a bust out interview. He was cool enough to give it to me and it was hilarious. I'll be sending that to Sean at Lord Admiral for an upcoming episode of Card Club podcast.

Of course, I have to talk about the infamous junk grabbing incident involving Change100. She's hardcore. She drove all the way from LA and started pounding drinks as soon as she arrived at the MGM. In fact she was getting shots of SoCo and making me do them with her at the poker tables. She was wicked hammered when she came over to me and pinned me against the bar. A semicircle of dumbfounded bloggers stood in awe as she admitted to me wanting to engage in several illicit sex acts with a well-known professional poker player. I guess she was illustrating what she wanted to do and grabbed ahold of my junk. Yes, I felt like Bobby Bracelet after getting my testicles massaged. My junk has been once confirmed and I enjoyed every second of it. Lucky for me, that would not be the first time all weekend I was groped by a female poker blogger.

Late night, Daddy entertained us at the IP with his drunken stories. He kept dropping his cigarette out of his mouth. The dude got plastered at MGM and Spaceman ended up playing out of his stack for over two hours. I'm pretty sure Iggy pissed off our cab driver on the way back from the MGM. He fired up a cigarette without permission.

"This is fuckin' America!" he responded.

The cabbie refused to budge unless he put it out.

I saw the sun rise once again before I fell asleep. That's how you tell the difference between a fun night from a decadent night in Las Vegas. If you see the sun rise and you still have half a bag on, you have reached the depths of Las Vegas depravity. Welcome to my world.

... to be continued. Part 2 includes the blogger tournament. Sorry I never added hyperlinks to everyone's blog. I'm too fuckin' lazy.

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