Las Vegas, NV
We all got to eat. All you can eat. Eat me.
Food. A place like Las Vegas is an epicenter for overindulgence with the inception of the first all-you-can-eat buffet. In the last decade and more, the trend in feeding the masses switched to high brow restaurants appealing to wealthy clientele with sophisticated palates. The late 1990s and early 2000s featured a reversal from feeding troughs filled with fried chicken and pasta toward a culinary boom in Las Vegas. If you were a celebrity chef at the time, you were courted by the casinos to open up a new restaurant in their space. The reaction was positive and for the first time, you could go to Las Vegas and plan on destroying a seafood buffet one day and then dining on Kobe beef the next night.
Food is overlooked and underrated when it comes to WSOP preparation. Heck, I'm a six year vet and I still make rookie mistakes from time to time -- like trying to eat during peak dinner time (especially on a weekend during a donkulus or donkament). Sometimes the food situation at the Rio is atrocious due to long lines and lack of quality (and healthy) options. The entire point of a casino is to keep you inside which is why they have places to eat and drink so you don't leave the property, get grub, then wander into a different casino. Due to that set up, it kinda blows when you're stuck at the same casino for five weeks straight. The lack of choice starts to grind on you.
The Rio has some choices, but not enough. I've had the pleasure of working in casinos with ample choices like Mohegan Sun, Borgata Casino, and the Crown Casino in Melbourne, Australia. Crown has probably one of the best "food courts" on the poker circuit with a plethora of international choices. My favorite was the Indian food, which to this day still ranks as one of the best Indian places I ever eaten.
After four weeks in the same spot, food gets old and at the same time, when you're working on a tight schedule in a "resort" place, the service is never going to meet your demands -- it will always be slow. Although some of the eateries are better than others about getting people in and out as quickly as possible, I still encounter some deplorable service. Because when you get slammed -- you do what you can to keep up and sometimes people get shitty service. Sadly, I usually get the shit end of that reality.
That's why if you're coming to the Rio for the Main Event, take the extra precautions to make sure you have proper nutrition while in pursuit of millions of dollars. Find someone to make a reservation ahead of time and even order for you so when you sit down, your food is there and you can beat the "WSOP dinner rush" and enjoy the remainder of your break instead of rushing your meal in order to get back in time.
I see so many poker players take the food situation for granted during the WSOP and over the rest of the year -- which is part of the reason why so many poker players are overweight and obese. You really can't do anything about what/how you eat because of lack of options. When it's 3am and the only thing available is junk food -- you don't have a choice. And that kinda sucks. In an environment where you have people gambling and working 24 hours a day, there really should be something to eat aside from rolling the dice in the Poker Kitchen. Even then, I've had instances where that was closed.
I gonna admit something about my WSOP housing this year. I looked for condos in a specific part of town because it was near one of my favorite breakfast places that offered decent and healthy non-casino food. I actually found two places nearby where I eat five times a week, maybe more. I never know when I'll have time to eat when I get to the Rio every day, that I made it a point to eat a hearty breakfast. It seems so simple, but food is fuel.
The Main Event is only playing four two-hour levels each day, so that means you could eat breakfast and wait until the end of the day to eat a proper meal. Throughout the day, you have to recharge hich is why energy bars are essential. I'm a fan of Clif Bars and they always come through in a pinch. Bananas are good too. I think it was Dennis Phillips who once said that he preferred bananas while playing long sessions. The snack was loaded with potassium and the actual peel was a good defense against any germs he might have acquired through contact with chips and cards.
Fruit and energy bars is just like your healthy friend who does yoga six days a week and works out all the time. The rest of us schmucks are the coffee and cigarettes crowd. If that's what you do to get by, then so be it. Don't change your schedule. Power smoke on your breaks and chug barrels of Starbucks.
Those 4-hour energy shots are helpful. If I can't score some Adderall, one of those suckers is good in a short pinch. They work more like 2-hour pep pills, but hey, if it's getting late in the night, one of those is probably healthier than drinking another Red Bull.
And of course, speed helps as well. Not that I could condone the use of that narcotic, but the side affects include a suppression of appetite (that's what diet pills used to be -- weight loss masked under a speed binge). On a good note, it does allow you to stay up for a week straight and you might finally get around to alphabetizing your CD collection and tearing down one of your walls to locate listening devices because you're convinced that Dick Cheney is spying on you.
Sorry for that tangent. Back to my original thought -- food is more important than you think. Be prepared. Pack your own grub if necessary.
The second topic of conversation is social media-related. Simply put... be careful what you Tweet.
I guess that's general life advice, and not just applied to poker. During the Twitterization of the world, everyone is caught up with the hoopla that they sometimes forget who they are sending a text to -- Twitter or to a friend. I've done this a couple of times. It's embarrassing.
Barry Greenstein made a grave error after busting from an event. He shipped a text to Twitter instead of to his friend...
He quickly erased his mistaken texts that showed up on Twitter. I think it was three in all according to HappyFreaked, one of my Dutch colleagues. Even though Barry tried to cover his tracks, the damage had already been done and the board were lighting up with speculation, rumors, and sexual innuendos. Don't you love the internet? Make one friggin' mistake and within minutes you have your own personal thread on 2+2 or Donkdown.
So let's take that tweet at face value. Barry is stuck $324,000 or roughly $10K/day since the WSOP began. That number includes tournament buy-ins and prop bets (last longers, bracelet bets, betting on flops, et al). That six-figure number is a sobering reminder that a shitty summer can make or break you during the WSOP.
I was also intrigued on who that text was intended. Ivey is a safe bet. Maybe Brunson? Dwan? Only Barry knows for sure. Twitter gives you a ton of insight into what pros think of their tablemates, or what songs they listen to, or what cool club they're at. But it's also the perfect place to monitor mental trainwrecks, gossip, drunken lunacy, and the occasional skeleton in the closet.
Bouncin' Round the Room on Day 33...
After four weeks of choppy seas, we were blessed with one of the calmer days at the WSOP without a final table on the schedule. On the flip side, it was hot as fuck outside, and almost doubled the indoor temps. Anytime you pass 111 degrees, it sucks. I don't care if it's a dry heat - it's still heat. Anyway, with only four tournaments in action and zero final tables, the day certainly lacked the frenzied vibe of the weekend which spilled over into Monday.
Donkulus Day 3: Playing down to the final table after a brutal slaughter on the opening flights on Day 1s and on Day 2. Canadian pro, Owen Crowe, faded the majority of the massive 3,128 donk-laddened field to remain near the top of the leader board for most of Day 2. At one point he had secured the chiplead before dropping back down.
Stripclub owner Michael Beasely finished in 12th place, a few spots short of the final table, meanwhile, Manuel Dividian, bubbled off the final table in 10th place. The remaining nine will return Wednesday.
You can't count OCrowe out of this event for his first bracelet, but his biggest obstacle will be the Scandi... Allan "Sifosis" Baekke. The guy is a monster online an a specialist at heads-up SNGs on PokerStars, so much so that he achieved Supernova status playing $5,000 SNGS.
Baekke rattled everyone's cage at this year's EPT Snowfest. He seized the chiplead on Day 2 and never looked back, essentially going almost wire-to-wire in that event in the Alps. At the very next EPT event, Baekke nearly replicated his Snowfest feat at in San Remo, Italy. He was teasing everyone with back-to-back EPT victories after he jumped out to an early lead... until the Scandi got derailed shortly before the final table and was eliminated in 12th.
"You would mistake him for an online player," explained Benjo who analyzed his play for his commentary (in French) during EPT Live broadcasts. "(Baekke) smiles at the table, but he's very aggressive and never stops attacking."
The Scandi's haven't had much of a showing this year mainly because not too many of them called the Rio their home this summer like in previous years. The Northern Europeans have been absent for the most part, with the sponsored pros opting to play in the Baltic Championships instead of WSOP preliminaries. Despite their absence during the first five weeks, more Scandis tricking in the next few days. Perhaps Baekke's appearance at the final table is a brisk reminder to the Brits that the Scandis are coming.
Donkament Day 2: Georgia's native son, Kenneth Terrell, was among the chipleaders on Day 2, and doing his best to hold off a dwindling field that also included Steve "Stevie444" Chidwick.
One of the bloggers from Poker News, Rich Ryan, advanced to the money in one of his first WSOP events. That's an epic moment for a fellow member of the media because Ryan was essentially playing on one of his few days off. Nothing is more demoralizing that taking your rare day off to play -- and then finding yourself at the shit end of a crappy tournament with nothing to show for it except a food comp and a bad beat story. On the opposite side of the spectrum, when you play only one or two events a year, then advance to a Day 2 of a Boucherie and eventually secure a cash, well, that's a special moment. Nice work, Rich.
Back by popular demand...
Last 5 Pros I Pissed Next To...Photos courtesy of Harper & Benjo.
1. Arnaud Mattern
2. Mel Judah
3. Steve Wong
4. Mickey Appleman
5. Tom Dwan