Las Vegas, NV
I didn't have my glasses on and squinted when I thought I saw a familiar face walking my way. I heard his drawl and that's when I knew it was him. Walking along side him was a woman more than half his age. The trashy heels, tight jeans, leopard print scarf, gaudy jewelery, and knock off purse was an obvious tell. As I passed him near the entrance to the gift shop and we made eye contact. Except it wasn't really eye contact as much as he flashed me a panicked look and then turned away in embarrassment. Married guys don't like getting caught in the company of a young woman when they are in Las Vegas, especially when that girl is a working girl and you get caught by a member of the media.
He knows that I know how this works. And this being the circuit. Certain rules exist (sort of like professional sports -- what happens in the locker room stays in the locker room) and even though I'm a writer who adheres to the mantra that "nothing is off the record," I do exhibit a semblance of discretion when it comes to those matters. I feel as though what players do in their spare time is their fucking business, but at the same time, I'm not foolish to simply dismiss what I see and file it away for future use. So for now, that pro with the hooker owes me a huge favor in the future... and he knows this.
That's the real currency in this world -- collecting enough ammunition on someone and learning what skeletons people hide in the proverbial closest -- so you can blackmail them.
Yes, it almost felt like that scene in the beginning of The Godfather... "Some day, and that day may never come, I'll call upon you to do a service for me."
Maybe I haven't been hanging out at the Hooker Bar much, so I have not encountered as many harlots as I have in previous years, but for the first time this summer, I came across two solo bogeys in the hallways. It was only Midnight as I wandered from the casino back to the Amazon Ballroom. The first gal was a skinny blonde, with lanky milky legs. Must have been from out of town (or working too much) because she was very pale. Her tight green mini skirt turned heads as a trickle of players passed her. She stood in front of the spa across from the Penn & Teller Theatre applying lipstick in a mirror. She spotted me in the reflection and unfurled a smile that whispered "I'm a bad girl, but with a heart of gold."
A chubby guy in an Ohio State hat stopped in his tracks and made a beeline toward her.
"Where are we gonna drink?" he said.
That's all it took.
When I reached the Rotunda ninety seconds later, a buxom girl spilling out of tight halter top was in the middle of an elusive and seductive stroll as she circled one of the bracelet displays until she caught the attention of one guy rushing out of the Pavilion.
That's all it took.
Event #27 Stud 8 event had yet to reach the final table when Day 3 began. David Levi was out in front for most of Day 2 and 3, and he advanced to the final table second in chips. Karina Jett started the final table 3rd in chips, and was trying to become the first woman to win an open bracelet his year (and also forcing Matusow to sweat his run down the Strip naked if three ladies win bracelets). The rail had an interesting mix of chatter including the legendary Cactus Jack, some kid wearing a furry hat with some sort of animal ears, and of course Men the Master. Tim the Intern needed my professional opinion on whether or not Men was shitfaced. He had the reddish glow in his face, like he blew his nose with a leaf of poison ivy, and he was holding onto the metal rail a little tight.
I know this is totally unrelated, but I heard a story that a well-known regular on High Stakes Poker asked the tournament staff if he could see the final table cards that were used when Men won his bracelet. The pro was denied access to the cards, but assured that the staff carefully inspected the cards and did not see any blemishes or shenanigans.
Men was hanging on the rail with a few pops in him and mugging for the cameras. What he didn't realize was that ESPN was shooting some b-roll (mostly of Karina). I always think it's sorta lame when pros try to get themselves on TV, but anyone who desperately tries to obtain camera time on b-roll footage is outright pathetic.
Karina busted Allen Bari in 8th, and then went on a tear. Although she didn't knock out the next two players, she pushed her stack over 1 million and jumped out to a sizable lead.
When the HORSE event on the other side of the room went on a dinner break, the rail swelled with pros stopping by to check on the progress of either David Levi or Karina. That group included Kristy Gazes, Cyndy Violette, Greg Mueller, Chip Jett, and Eric Mizrachi. Mueller stopped by several times, with more than a watchful eye, which indicated that Karina was one of his horses.
Karina lost the lead with four to go, and went from the leading the pack to the short stack. She battled back and won a couple of smallish pots, but could not mount a comeback and busted in 4th place.
The real action went down after David Levi busted in 3rd place. On his way to the cage, someone confronted him in the hallway. This "old guy" claimed that he staked Levi three years ago and that Levi owed him $16,000. Levi pretty much told him to fuck off (no one likes to be pestered period after busting in 3rd from a WSOP final table), and the old guy tried to punch him in the eye. When security arrived, they saw a feisty guy screaming at an old man and of course, the guard confronted Levi who got even more worked up.
Just last week, Flipchip mentioned how the postmodern WSOP wasn't as rough as the old days at the Horseshoe were fisticuffs were a daily occurrence.
Bouncin' Round the Room on Day 20...
Wednesday was one of the busiest days at the WSOP with seven events on the schedule, three final tables, and a donkament. It was one of those days when the Amazon was constantly packed with re-starts and a 5pm HORSE event. Since the first time since the week hallways were tough to navigate.
Event #24 Donkulus 3.0 Final Table: This event started... last week... and finally ended. For a five-calendar day tournament, a $500K payday is not too shabby. Jeffrey Tebben beat JD McNamara heads-up for the bracelet, and a half-a-mil score. I have an idea... instead of three 1K events, how about a super-sized 1K with 10,000+ runners? It could last 10 days. Or how about a $200 buy-in Super Saver Megadonk with 50,000 players, 14 Day 1s, 7 Day 2s, which runs the duration of the WSOP? It starts on Day 1 of the WSOP and the final table is set for the day before the Main Event.
Event #26 Six-handed NL Final Table: I really thought that Spain's Javier "Anguila" Etayo was destined to win the event after he finished up on the fortuitous end of hand against Martins Adeniya, one of the many troops comprising this year's British Invasion, and chummy with the blokes on the Hit Squad (James Akenhead and Praz Bansi). Alas, the Brits march to another final table was stopped by a little Spanish luck when Anguila snapped off Adeniva's queens with pocket tens.
Anguila bubbled off the final table in 7th place, and even Leo Margets on the rail couldn't bring him enough good luck. He ran into two tough coolers on back-to-back hands. He busted when his A-K lost to Eddy Scharf's Q-Q's. Anguila isn't 100% sure, but he thinks he's had the best finish from a Spanish player in a long time. My crack team of interns are currently out to lunch (aka Phish tour or getting shitfaced while watching the World Cup) and unable to crunch those numbers. If BJ wasn't so busy, I'd ask him to help out, which leaves the task up to Kevin Mathers (wink, wink).
I hate bustout interviews with players, unless it is done at a bar an hour or two after the tournament and they want to talk about it after a couple of beers. So when Anguila stopped by the pressbox, I asked him about the World Cup instead of focusing on poker.
"I overslept and missed the game," Anguila said about Switzerland's 1-0 upset of Spain on Wednesday morning. "I'm glad I missed it because I would have been pissed if I had to watch it."
When he woke up, he couldn't believe his eyes and thought the score was wrong.
"Ah, it's their one bad game. It poker terms, it's like losing 1/3 of your stack in the first level. As long as they finish strong, it will be OK. Spain is the best team in the world."
I hope he's right. I spread a round a lot of action, but have one big bet on Spain.
Event #28 PLO Junkiement Day 2: Once the money bubble broke, Chau Giang and TJ Cloutier were out in front with the lead. TJ busted out, but he cashed for $6,470... which he promptly lost it all. "Seven out!" Notables cashing included Sandra Naujoks, Chau Giang, and Adam Junglen went deep with a 15th place finish. Day 2 ended with 12 players and Miguel Proulx as the chipleader.
Event #29 10K Limit Day 2: Another inexperienced dealer story... this one happened at Doyle Brunson's table when a misdeal occurred. The dealer quickly apologized and said, "This is my first day." Old Texas Dolly rolled his eyes. For a "championship" event with a $10,000 buy-in, you would have thunk they would not have any cherry dealers? The Grinder, a former poker dealer, jumped out the lead around dinner break. He was near the top of the leader board with Brock Parker as the action reached the money bubble.
Late in the night, Grinder slipped in chips and sunk to one of the shortstacks. Day 2 ended with 13 players and the Grinder on life support. Matt Keikoan, Brock Parker, and David Chiu all advanced to Day 3.
The Grinder Running Good
Can the Grinder become the first player to win two bracelets this summer? He's going to need help if he wants to make the final table. Tune in tomorrow to find out...
Photos courtesy of Harper & Benjo.