Monday, July 07, 2008

2008 WSOP Day 38: The Kitten Fields

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

Over the last four days, a massive PokerStars shuttle bus carted troops from basecamp at the Palms to the front lines at the Rio. At nights, the bus left the parking lot of the Rio with battled tested and wounded qualifiers in PokerStars hats and shirts, the few survivors who advanced to Day 2 after a gruesome rumble.

A jihad. A brawl. A melee. Seat open, table 28.

A couple of invincible ones walked away without a scratch on them. Not one blemish as they heroically blazed through a minefield and avoided any missteps, while unfortunate others hobbled out of the Amazon Room mangled and battered and some where wheeled out on life support. They were the lucky ones.

The majority of their brethren never made it out alive and perished in the existentialist meatgrinder of the world series of sadism. That's why every PokerStars 'premium' schwag bag can be converted into a makeshift body bag.

Poor Otis and Howard and Bartley scrambled across the killing floor every hour to retrieve the leftover carcasses from the plethora of online qualifiers. The bottom of the PokerStars shuttle bus was a makeshift morgue which Otis and his crew constantly filled up every inch with the leftovers.

You could see the malnourishment in Otis' eyes. The sorrow. The misery. The agony. And you wonder why Otis writes such sad posts. He can't shake the post-traumatic stress syndrome of being the first on the scene after the initial slaughter. If you have to slosh around knee deep in the fish guts and animal intestines for 15 hours a day, you'd be in a somber mood as well.

When the online qualifiers won their seats they thought they won a ticket to the big dance. What they really won was a one way trip to nothingness.

After the third day you get numb to the smell of donkey blood and you ignore the bottoms of your jeans stained with oodles and oodles of spilled blood so much so that a steady stream bisects the Amazon into two parts. The French media have been calling it "Une riviere remplie du sang des anes." That loosely translated into Donkey Blood River.

You can try to repress those horrific memories of the anguish in the killing fields and stash them next to your suicidal thoughts, but they always bubble up to the surface and ambush you when you least expect it. I have a few flashbacks everyday. I can't escape the faces of the ones we left behind. Like the young kid from that small farming town in Kansas. He barely shaved. Had a girl back home. They were fixin' to get married. He texted her every break until... it was his time to go. He exploded into a thousand little pieces. Never saw it coming. Sucked out on the river. One moment he was smiling and excited to be at the same table as Jesus. The next moment, he was a statistic. Seat open, table 23.

Every night, I am unable to sleep, haunted by the screams of the tortured souls as they were blindly led to the killing fields. The main event is sort of like a quagmire of a war. You can see it on TV but you have no idea what the butchery is like unless you have been there and swatted away the malaria-ridden mosquitos and dodged the shrapnel from exploding donkeys. I am haunted by the deafening screeches of innocents boys and girls getting their hearts ripped out of their chest while the media vultures do nothing to stop the atrocities and live blog every single moment of the maulings.

Donkeys make a distinct yelp when their throats are slashed. Whenever I am reminded of that shrill sound, I hear Wagner's Die Walk├╝re in the background as my world fades to black and a I pass out only to be woken up in a thick pool of the losers' blood. I get dirty looks from my fellow media reps when I track blood up into the press box. We have a "Welcome" mat at the foot of the stairs and I always forget to wipe my feet.

It was a dull moment at the WSOP until Mike Matusow livened things up for ESPN's cameras and bit the head off of a kitten that had wandered up on stage. One of those third rate energy drinks got a brilliant guerrilla marketing idea and decided to slap a patch on a kitten and let it loose at the featured TV table. It would get face time and free advertising. After all, everyone loves kittens, right?

Matusow' meds weren't working properly. One of the side affects gave him intense munchies and hallucinations. He thought the kitten was a meatball sub, so he ripped the patch off the kitten and then bit the head off. That's was shocking move that horrified and excited ESPN execs. They finally found a way to make poker interesting for middle America.

Animal sacrifice and poker.

Once you get the politically correct Peta freaks out of the way, the dollars start rolling in. Next year, there will be there new events added. The one I'm waiting for is the Mixed Hold'em/Kitten Eating event. One round of Hold'em followed by a round of kitten consumption.

Editor's Note: Not one kitten was actually harmed in the writing of this post. But just to remind you, that every time a Full Tilt pro gets sucked out on, a kitten dies.

* * * * * *

Happy pill time. Has yours kicked in yet?

The world is a happy place of joy and jubilation. I'm not always dark and coldblooded and miserable wandering around pondering the complexities of life. I can see the good in things. The light amidst the darkness. The world can be a happy place where dogs and cats and PokerStars and Full Tilt pros live in harmony. And guys like Tony G and Barry Shulman join a bowling team and raise puppies together.

The WSOP is my own personal utopia. This is the happiest place on earth where 72 virgins dressed like Britney Spears roam the hallways singing Kum Ba Yah and Give Peace a Chance. Fairies like Anna Wroblewski run up to Eskimo and sprinkle fairy dust on his head and he magically transforms into Patrik Antonius. And according to Shronk, when Patrik Antonius folds his cards they turn into doves and fly away.

The Amazon Room at the Rio Casino is the place where dreams are fulfilled. Close your eyes. Make a wish. Leave all of your friends, family, jobs, responsibilities, and fly to Las Vegas and all of your problems, fears, phobias, and character flaws will disappear into thin air.

Remember that first time you drove to Las Vegas from Los Angeles? And you saw the lights magically appear as you headed over the pass. You were less than an hour away and the Luxor light shot up into the darkened sky and that was the beacon of hope. Hope. Promise. Faith. You used to be so filled with hope and anticipation. Willing to leave your old life behind and immerse yourself into Candyland and Disenyland and whatever fairytale land you want to escape into.

Purple flickering lights. Pink cocktails. Gingers with red hair. Wads of greenbacks. Hookers in baby blue dresses with orange purses filled with yellow condoms. Buy a ticket and take the ride. Hump a stripper. Hug a porn slapper. Double down on a 14. Make a Jack-high Pai Gow.

Jesus turned water into wine. But Las Vegas is the only place where you can magically turn $10,000 into $9 million. One lucky mortal will become a god if they can become the last one standing in the killing fields.


Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at www.taopoker.com. All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

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