Las Vegas, NV
Well, this is the day that everyone has been waiting for (except me). The 2008 WSOP officially kicks off at Noon PT. The Tao of Poker will be providing hourly updates (in compliance with strict media guidelines).
Here's the formula for Tao of Poker at the 2008 WSOP... I will be doing two posts a day. The first post is a "live blog" featuring hourly updates. That's what you see here. You can come back throughout the day or refresh for those updates. Then when the day is over, I'll sit down and write my end of day recap (similar to last year) which will be published before most of you wake up the next day.
I will be sacrificing sleep and Pai Gow to bring you the straight dope over the next seven weeks. No days off. Nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. The revolution will be blogged. Urination tales. Hooker bars. Bad beats. Empty chairs. Lime tossing. Fooling around on the course. Bad language. Smoking grass. You know, poor caddying.
So wake the kids. Call the neighbors. Send a text to Eddie (your degenerate gambling cousin from Teneck who constantly asks you to transfer him $20 on PokerStars) and tell him that Tao of Poker's coverage of the 2008 WSOP has begun.
Wake and bake by the pool. Seven minutes later, I dropped the kids off at the pool.
Yes, Scheckytown has an amazing pool and is among the best features of the house. The pool contains a mini-waterfall. The mellow sounds of rushing water is very zen and ultra relaxing and I like sitting outside and writing in the morning before the Nevada sun starts blazing down and before I have to get into my gas-guzzling coffin and drive to the Rio for my work furlough assignment.
I have come a long way from the Redneck Riviera. No more potential meth labs blowing up in the complex next door, thank God. I'm sheltered from the plight in a semi-gated community with neighborhood watches and high walls to keep out all the tweakers and gang bangers.
Yesterday, I attended the first of two Poker News pre-WSOP staff meetings. It was held at Lucille's at Green Valley Ranch. All you can eat BBQ. I thought last year's staff was big, but shit, there's twice as many as last year. Talk about impressive and intimidating at the same time. I caught up with Haley Hintze, who will be onsite this year. BJ and I are writing features for Poker News and will be working with her more so than the rest of the crew.
I got to meet some of the new team members. I also caught up with reporters who worked last summer (Mean Gene, Garry, Logan, Zeke, Chris, Matt, Dave, Felipe) and other Poker News staff that I worked with in Australia or Europe (Snoopy & Dana, the always hugable Amanda Leatherman, the always sassy Tiffany Michelle, Jeremy, and the Aussies... Tom & TassieDevil). And then there a couple of newbies like F Train and Shamus who I'm sure will do a fantastic job.
Seeing everyone reminded me that the first few days also include meeting up with friends you have not seen in a months or since Jerry Yang won the 2007 WSOP. Sadly, Otis won't show up for a few more weeks.
Change100 had to attend a second staff meeting at the Rio. I went back to Scheckytown to
Anyway, our fifth roommate moved into the house. It's none other than... Kristy Gazes. Talk about one interesting house... Schecky, Jen Leo, Change100, Kristy Gazes, and myself.
Kristy is hilarious and tons of fun. She showed up with like eighty-seven bags of snacks from Whole Foods. I had not see her since the Aussie Millions so we caught up and watched the last episode of Top Chef. We were both shocked that Spike got booted instead of the dyke. Note to self: avoid frozen scallops.
Happy Birthday to my roommate... Jen Leo! She turns 26 today.
FYI, if you like Widespread Panic, I posted a mix of songs from Panic's Oct. 2007 Nashville show over at Coventry. That will keep me sane on my ride to the Rio.
The drive to the Rip was quick. What happened to all the traffic? Although the walk down the corridor of the Rio was haunting. The meandering ghosts were taunting me as I quickly rushed down the hallway in search of my badge. I ignored all the shit on the hallway walls and the new vendors. I'll have plenty of time to investigate those things.
I secured my badge so it's official. I'm here until the end or until I get kicked out... whichever comes first. Schecky suggested that I work less hours and have more fun. Sounds like a plan. There's a tiered media perch on the floor and I set up shop in front of the DonkeyBomber mural.
I was bombarded by a blur of familiar faces such as Nolan Dolla, Gary Wise, Lance Bradley, Aaron, Jen, Hux, Charlie, Jack Effel, and Jeffrey Pollock. Gary brought two bottles of tequila. He's properly prepared for battle.
In the immortal words of John Bell, "That same rowdy crowd that was here last (time) is back again."
"You should title this post, 'Viva Viagra'..." said Marissa Chien. The UNLV marching band walked into the room and marched through the tournament area and I kept wondering if someone slipped me a tab of acid. They formed a line and then belted out a lackluster version of "Viva Las Vegas." I felt bad for the one dealer who had to sit in front of the horn guys.
Jack Effel spoke along with Jeffrey Pollock. They said that all bracelet winners will achieve Diamond Club status at all Harrah's property.
Pollock handed over the mic to Doyle Brunson who flashed his trademark smile. "Everyone fasten your seat belt. Let's shuffle up and deal," said the legendary Doyle Brunson.
Cards are in the air for Event #1 $10K PL Hold'em. There are approximately 300 runners in the first event. There is only one tournament today.
Terrance Chan is playing in today's event. I joked around with him that he's using his $9,300 refund from the UB cheating scandal to freeroll into today's event.
There's a new mural of the DonkeyBomber right above my head.
"DonkeyBomber stinks," said Lance.
I'm thinking... BO? Shitty poker player?
"Smell the banner. It's brand new and has that chemically smell."
I inspected the banner and took a huge whiff. Wow. talk about a buzz. My head is still spinning.
We're taking turns sniffing the DonkeyBomber banner. Man, talk about seeing Lucy in the sky with diamonds.
In the meantime, I spotted Eskimo Clark wander into the Amazon Room in a slight daze. Just at the same time, Shannon Elizabeth was rushing past media row in a huff. Aaron and I looked at each other. We both knew that from her mannerisms that she was not rushing out of the room on a piss break or a smoke break.
"She doesn't smoke," said California Jen.
Well that narrowed it down. What really happened was that our favorite American Pie actress had her aces snapped off... twice... in brutal fashion. The first time her Aces were cracked by Beth Shak's sixes and she before she got kicked in the cookie again when her Aces were topped by tens.
Today's field in Event #1 is pro-heavy since it's a $10K buy-in. Despite the hefty buy-in (which was double from last year's $5K buy-in which was won by Allen Cunningham and had 398 runners), Flipchip thought that there was tons of dead money in the field.
"Some of these guys shouldn't be spending $10 let alone $10,000," he cracked.
I asked Flipchip about his first WSOP. "It was the one that Amarillo Slim won. I have a pic of Frank (aka the Poker Prof's grandfather) hovering over the final table."
Mike Paulle make a token appearance. He's been doing this stuff since I was a wee one shitting myself. Mike said some very flattering things about my writing.
My roomie Kristy Gazes is out of Event #1. Other eliminations included Katja Thater, Jen Tilly, Chau Giang and RainKhan.
During the first break, a procession of poker pros made their way past the media perch. Robert Williamson III gave me the "head nod" as he sauntered by. Steve Wong was busy speaking into a mini voice recorder. Both Bermans (Bradley and Lyle) were catching up. An animated Phil Laak chatted Dewey Tomko's ear off. DonkeyBomber wandered by and drooled over his own banner as I was sniffing it for the 117th time today.
On break, I wandered out to the Poker Kitchen which is where the Poker Tent was located last year. This year's new touch is a shitload of Capriatti sandwiches. There is a Capriatti's in Red Rock casino and I've eaten there many times. Capriatti's and their white-paper wrapped sandwiches is a welcomed addition considering the rest of the food at the Rio is more fit for canines or inmates. And what's the deal with chicks only eating half of their food? California Jen only ate half of her wrap and gave me the rest, while I also ate half of Change100's turkey sub.
Change100 commented that the Poker Kitchen resembled a high school cafeteria. One table had all of the online whiz kids. The UK players were seated at one table. Jen Tilly and The Unabomber were at another. All of the Asian pros were sitting together and exchanging bad beat stories in their dialects. The media reps sat in one section while the older Vegas grinders huddled in the corner.
Jamie Gold was eliminated when I happened to walk past his table. Fossilman is also busto along with Barry Greenstein. Tough day for Team PokerStars players, eh? Young gun Vivek Rajkumar is the current chipleader.
I caught a glimpse of the Milwaukee's Best girls. They used to look like skanks but they got a new wardrobe which is less revealing and less tantalizing. Shit if you are going to hide the tits and ass, the girls might as well wear Little House in the Prairie dresses like those Mormon wifes from one of Warren Jeffs' polygamist compounds. Seriously, the 2008 version of the Milwaukee Beast girls is sort of like watching an edited version of a porn move with all the penetration shots cut out.
And Survivor's own Jean-Robert Bellande couldn't even survive to the dinner break. Big Bad Bobby Belande = Busto.
Smoke break. Today's smoke break is sponsored by Fantasy Sports Live! For all your instant fantasy sports needs, visit FantasySportsLive.com. They're currently running baseball and NASCAR contests.
Bonus Code: Pauly
Ted Lawson's wife brought the media two batches of homemade cookies. Wow. She's so sweet to do that. It's not the first time. She's always on the rail sweating Ted and realized the underappreciated work that we had been doing... so she did something nice and made everyone cookies.
Spaceman sighting (actually a couple of hours ago). He's looking more and more like Jim James from My Morning Jacket.
Finally... a long anticipated Foiled Coup sighting. He told me that his coverage will resemble the "99 cent version of Wicked Chops Poker."
Foiled Coup is the pussy detector at the WSOP. If an exquisite piece of ass even enters the Amazon Room, Foiled Coup knows about it.
"Did you see the sexy new dresses on the cocktail waitresses in the casino?"
I conducted a thorough investigation and they definitely reveal more. I wandered over to the old space where the Tilted Kilt used to be located. It's now a McFadden's and I drank a pint by myself at the bar. I was sort of sad because I really missed the old joint. Plus their waitresses are not as scantily clad as the Tilted Kilt chicks. What a waste.
I got shut out at the Rio sports book. I wanted action on the Celtics/Pistons game but the Rio doesn't book bets on the Celtics. Conflict of interest because Harrah's CEO Gary Loveman owns 2.7 percent of the Celtics. Boooooooooo. Now I have to drive to the Palms to place my bet.
By the way, there is some sort of stripper booth in the hallway. Sapphire is back with several girls dressed up in bathing suits. The rag tag bunch resembled leftovers from the afternoon shift. I gotta say that this batch was super lazy. They were supposed to hand out VIP passes or something and talk to the horny guys wandering down the hall yet a couple of them were sitting down on the job. I'm gonna get Flipchip to take a few photos.
I ran into super poker agent Brian Balsbaugh. I recently caught him on an old episode of Top Chef from season one which also included Phil Hellmuth.
Michalski finally arrived... at 5pm. I had a bet with California Jen. She set the arrival time at 3pm. I knew Michalski wouldn't show before 5pm. Sure enough he waltzed in at 5pm on the nose. I collected my first prop bet win of the WSOP.
Michalski and I took a tour of the facilities including the satellite area located in the Tropical Room across the hall.
Recent eliminations included Doyle Brunson, Daniel Negreanu, Gavin Smith, The Grinder, Daniel Negreanu, Steve Z, Hoyt Corkins, Josh Arieh, Orel Hershiser, DonkeyBomber, and ZeeJustin.
Players returned from a dinner break. Patrik Antonius confidently strolled past us with Dan Shak right behind frantically focused on his crackberry. When the floor guy announced that cards were back in the air, a slew of players ran past the media box... Juanda, Bloch, and Jesus.
Today has run somewhat smooth compared to previous Event #1. It almost feels like the ninth or tenth day of the WSOP.
I haven't see hordes of tourists like in previous years. I expect that to happen this weekend. For now, it's a steady flow of gawkers and amateur paparazzi. One guy with a sideways hat and lathered in tattoos stopped an impeccably dressed Marcel Luske and asked him to pose for a photograph.
"You're my favorite player Marcel," I heard him say as I wandered past them and the Pizza Hut stand.
Max Pescatori showed up today with a busted arm. The Italian Pirate supposedly got into fight. I wonder what the other guy looked like? I also saw his fellow Italian, Dario Minieri, who was scarfless but sported a guady watch that looks better on the wrist of one of the guys in Fiftycent's posse.
And by the way, the Celtics won and covered. Motherfuckers. I went to the sportsbook earlier in the day because my buddy Senor from Providence told me that he was gonna bet the Celtics and the moneyline. I was going to bet the Celtics getting 5, but he convinced me to go with the moneyline bet. You see a guy like Senor is married with two kids and has to be tight with money. He's rather spend it on his wife or on the kids or on a golf than gamble it away. He rarely gambles so when he's betting big on something you know it's gotta be a lock.
Sadly, the Rio wouldn't book bets on Celtics games. I was too lazy to walk across the street to place the bet at a different casino. Yes, another bad beat on a bet that I never put down.
This blurb is dedicated to Amy Calistri. She won't be at this year's WSOP because she has a real gig back in Austin. As much as that's awesome for her (and we're all a little jealous of anyone who can get out of poker), we're all sad that Amy's not here.
"I miss her," said Michalski.
Yes, the best boobs in poker is missed in many ways, among them, being my scratching post where I could randomly grope her.
Three years ago, Amy showed me the ropes on the first day of the 2005 WSOP I walked into the Rio. I had no idea what the fuck I was doing. I was the new gunslinger in town and she took me under her wing. I wouldn't be here today without her friendship and tutelage. She taught me how to work a hallway and gather material, which I continue to do.
And in the hallways, I roamed and didn't see the influx of Friday night hookers that usually swarm. Perhaps the Triad hasn't smuggled them into Vegas yet.
I'm trying to answer some questions this year - figuring out if the economy, housing crisis, rising gas prices, and the poker slump has effected the city of Las Vegas. I guess a good indicator is the price of a hooker. If prices for a blow job are dropping, I don't need Warren Buffet to tell me that times in Sin City are tough.
I ran into a G-Vegas legend... The Trooper! He told me that he's dealing The Grand Series down at the Golden Nugget. Binions and the Venetian are both running special events this summer so not all of the poker action will be at the Rio. I will do my best to check out the action at some of those other properties.
By the way, back by popular demand...
Last 5 Pros I Pissed Next To:
1. Kenny Tran
2. Ram Vaswami
3. Vince Van Patten
4. Hassan Habib
5. Jared 'TheWacoKidd' Hamby
I've been at the Rio since 10:30am. I noticed that other outlets rotated in a fresh batch of troops for the night shift. Well, shit I'm still here.
I wandered over to the Hooker Bar for a drink with Michalski. We hung out with Spaceman, Matt, and Martin. EPT Copenhagen winner Tim Vance was hanging out in the corner of the Hooker Bar sloshed to all hell. The American was recanting stories about his magical run in Denmark when he beat down a slew of Scandis.
I was disappointed in the lack of hookers at the Rio. I expected the Hooker Bar to be crawling with ladies of the night. The only working girl I saw was lurking around the Amazon ballroom with a trio of guys. I wonder which poor schmuck she's gonna roll tonight?
And in true Michalski slacker fashion, Pokerati's big toe put in a half of day on Day 1. He arrived at 5pm and escaped before Midnight. That's what I call a savvy veteran move.
Day 1 of the WSOP has come to an end. Out of 352 runners, there are 70 remaining in Event #1 and Eli Elezra is among the chipleaders, if you care about those sorts of things.
Well, I must say, I had a blast on Day 1. I was dreading today and in all honesty, it was one of the most fun days I ever had at the WSOP. I mean, it's only Day 1 and I almost had a better day today than my best day at last year's WSOP (it's hard to top cashing in the only event that I played in 2007). But seriously, today was fun and I really hope to have more fun tomorrow and the day after and the day after that.
Before I go, I wanna thanks everyone for following along. You guys have been a great crowd. See you tomorrow.
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