"There are a lot of holes in the desert," is an expression I heard at least a dozen people say on Friday.
A few of the people who mentioned that expression alluded to the fact that Vinnie Vinh was whacked. The topic of the day was the disappearance of Vinnie Vinh. If you don't know what went down, here's the skinny. At the end of Day 1 of the $1,000 NL w/ Rebuys event, Vinnie Vinh ended the day as one of the big stacks. He looked like shit. I never saw him but those who did say that he looked awful. The next day, he failed to show up. His stack was blinded off and he managed to finish in 20th place. A thread of 2+2 popped up with possible explanations.
"He looks terrible. Scary actually," wrote Daniel Negreanu on his blog. "He's lost a ton of wait and it looks like he is suffering all the symptoms of possibly crystal meth or something along those lines. He looks half dead.”
"I couldn't believe how he looked - he was emaciated and appeared like he had aged years in the course of a month. I'm assuming it's the result of some kind of hard-drug problem, but I have no real insight," wrote Shaniac.
"I saw Vinny Vinh around the tables yesterday and he looked like he was on a different planet from hard drug abuse," added Shannon Shorr, "It, indeed, must've been very serious for a player like Vinh to miss this kind of shot at a bracelet."
Many players and media speculated on his disappearance as lurid tales made their way around the Rio. He was supposedly staying at a sister property of the Redneck Riviera. Anything can happen in those roach motels. He could have been robbed by tweakers, rolled by a crack whore, or he could have overdosed in the john on a bad batch of "cheese", face down and ass up like fat Elvis was found.
Drug abuse is rampant in American society and of course drugs are what keep a 24 hour city like Las Vegas pumping. Although poker players are not juicing up with performance enhancing drugs, many of them are jacked up on some sort of pharmaceutical cocktail. Sure you have a few potheads that like to drag a little weed from time to time, but they are harmless. I'm sure they'd rather be at home with the bong in one hand and a mouse in the other playing six $500 SNGs at once. And then there are the cokeheads. Those are easy to spot with the nasal drip, constantly fidgeting at the tables, and running to the bathroom stalls every thirty minutes. The nicotine freaks are constantly watching the clock to see when the next break is so they can chain smoke three Camels. And then there are the Jesus Freaks, high on Christ a the tables.
The Amazon Room is filled with junkies. Everyone is addicted to something aside from poker. If it's themselves, power, money, sex, drugs, religion, popularity... people are hooked. Vinnie Vinh is just one in a several thousand players who have been walking that fine line between life and death in Las Vegas. This is a gloomy town where your insecurities and weaknesses are exposed on a daily basis. In a city full of temptations, the weak ones are gobbled up by the nebulous side of the universe. Some spiral into that darkened abyss never to return. And the few that do manage to survive, are never the same.
I fear that Las Vegas has claimed yet another casualty.
I covered Day 2 of Event #12 $1,500 NL Short-handed. Andy Bloch once told me that all NL events should be 6-handed. That would induce action and make the tournaments go quicker. As a player, you also get to play more hands and more "real poker."
JC Tran, Erik Seidel, Carl Olson, and Joe Awada were among the pros left in the mix at the start of the day. None of them would make the final table. Eric "sheets" Haber took down Seidel and JC Tran busted out shortly after the dinner break. Tao of Poker reader Andrew Webking went deep. He cashed in his second event at the WSOP and at one point held the chiplead in Event #12 but busted out in 10th place. His Kings ran into Aces.
"What a cooler," he said as he walked to the payout room.
Matt Brady (another Tao reader) made the final table. He's the shortstack but anything could happen at the final table.
At the main stage, the $5K Stud event crowned a winner. It was not David Oppenheim who entered the final table as the chipleader. Chris Reslock, a New Jersey native who won a WSOP Circuit event in Atlantic City, took down his first bracelet. He beat Phil Ivey heads up to win. As BJ Nemeth mentioned to me the day before, the big story at the WSOP this year is the big named pros who finished in second place and barely missing a bracelet - such as Gavin Smith, Phil Ivey, and Greg "FBT" Mueller. While big names like Alex Jacob, Devilfish, Annie Duke, and David Oppenheim all came in third place.
Bouncin' Round the Room on Day 8
Daniel Negreanu sat in front of us in media row on the floor of the Amazon Ballroom. He was directly in front of Mean Gene and would come over to peak over his shoulder to see what he was working on. Negreanu was full of energy and could not sit down. He unleashed his ability to mimic other players and spoke in several different accents and dialects.
I ate lunch at the Sao Paulo cafe with Change100 and Schecky. There was a Tao of Poker reader at the table next to us. Debbie said she had been reading me for over two years and said that I needed her help. She's a craps tutor or dice coach over at dicecoach.com. She is going to comp me a free lesson. I asked her if she coached Pai Gow. That's where I really need help.
At lunch we bumped into Andrew Feldman from ESPN. He expressed numerous times how he was disappointed that my gig with ESPN did not work out. He seemed positive about the future and hopes we can come to an agreement sometime down the line. I have a good feeling that I'll be doing something with them at some point.
Perry Friedman and Mark Vos had a prop bet going that neither would make the final table of the $5K Pot-Limit Hold'em event. If Vos went deep, he's get $20K. If Perry went deep, he'd win $10K. Friedman gave Vos 2 to 1 odds even though Vos jumped out to a big chiplead.
Mean Gene and I were prop betting that I couldn't hit Change100 in the head with wadded up balls of paper. I lost about $50 in various "throwing things" prop bets on Day 8.
Kristy Gazes gave me a bag of Hawaiian coffee. She also offered me up her leftover French Fries. I told her I was going to sell it on e-bay to freaky Kristy Gazes fans. She thought that was creepy. I happened to be walking with her in the hallway after she busted out of her tournament. She seemed in good spirits despite losing $5K that day in tourney buy-ins. "What can you do? There's always another tournament tomorrow."
Kristy Gazes also took time out to snap photos of tourists with Daniel Negreanu. They handed her the camera and she obliged.
Phil Hellmuth lost $7,500 to Doyle Brunson. The two were putting in the VIP lounge on their break. Looks like the Poker Brat could not putt under the pressure.
Mean Gene got a sandwich at the poker kitchen that was frozen. Even the pickle.
Linda posted a great story about Sammy Farha and sbrugby called Behind the noise.
Otis is always good for a hilarious quote like this one, "The maid who cleans my room must think I'm a chronic masturbator." Otis has been using one bottle of hand lotion per day due to his dry and flaky hands.
We headed to the Tilted Kilt for dinner break and Kari said she looked me up on the internet. She did her homework and discovered that there's a Jesus Freak with the same name who has a radio program where he discusses the impending rapture. She stopped by the Amazon Ballroom later on to hand out coupons for the Tilted Kilt. When the girls entered the room, they definitely distracted several of the players.
Otis wants to get a mud wrestling match going between the Milwaukee's Beast girls and the Tilted Kilt Waitresses. That could be bigger than the main event this year.
Kari was training a new Kilt and she had a back tattoo of a turtle. "You know what that means?" said Otis. "Move slow."
Tilted Kilt Stella Count: 12
Last 5 Pros I Pissed Next to...
1. Gene Todd
2. Brad Berman
3. Gary Benson
4. Erick Lindgren
5. JC Tran
Don't forget to check out LasVegasVegas for Flipchip's WSOP photos. And come back at the Tao of Poker for daily recaps and head over at PokerNews for live coverage and updates including chipcounts.
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