Las Vegas, NV
We live in troubled times.
Open your eyes. Open your minds. It's not hard to see that the civilization is in the process of a tumultuous metamorphosis. Call it what you will -- but the world is imploding, exploding, and for lack of a better cliche -- going straight to hell. The cracknuts cite 2012 as the root of this madness. Scientists insist that the Earth goes through periods of natural unrest and polar shifts which result in earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Seismologists have been crunching data and fear that a big quake catastrophic seismic is coming -- just don't know when.
That's the real reason I'm going to use my advance (from the French version of Lost Vegas) to purchase a Mossberg 590A1. It's not for home protection, but rather as a necessity to survive looting in the slums of Beverly Hills. In case an earthquake ever rattled Los Angeles so badly that civil order and law enforcement breaks down -- a shotgun is an amazing deterrent (if I learned anything from reading Cormac McCarthy's The Road -- is that you better have lots of ammo). All you had to do is watch the footage of the looting and lunacy in Chile a day after their massive terra-mota to realize that civility ceases to exist in times of chaos.
Even if you don't want to look beyond our borders, then make a a quick evaluation of the current state of our glorious country: a hole in the ocean spewing globs of oily blood that's washing up onto our shores and threatening to destroy all life in/on/around the Gulf of Mexico, the gross loss of civil liberties under the Patriot Act that's turning our country into a Nanny State, a slumping economy that's destroying the once thriving middle class, more and more jobs being outsourced and shipped overseas, the dumbification of America with our atrocious public education system and TV/internet/social media brainwashing out children, bloodshed on our Southwest borders due to drug cartels and America's insatiable demand for narcotics, and let's not forget about two wars bleeding us dry. Our armed forces are bogged down in two complex quagmires in Afghanistan and Iraq (with a third front soon to come in Iran) against religious fanatics. It angers me that soused snake-oil representatives in Washington constantly wave the bloody flag of 9/11 and send our troops on wild goose chases in a cave-by-cave in search for a bogeyman, who I'm afraid we'll never find in our lifetime.
It's easy to lose your sanity when you see the world on the cusp of exploding.
Las Vegas is extremely important in these troubled times for two reasons:
1) Las Vegas is an absurd distraction from the horrors of life.Isn't it an awesome time to be alive?
2) Las Vegas a bastion of hedonism for those who want to indulge before the shit really hits the fan.
I'm not trying to be snarky or glib. I'm going for raw honesty here. If... (big if)... you have a dystopian view of the future, then it's never going to get better than this. And this is right now. Las Vegas is one of the few cities in the world where you can get your ya-yas out -- 24 hours a day.
This unrated excerpt from Lost Vegas is proof...
Las Vegas lures you to shed moral responsibility and piss away your money on indulgences like decadent food, entertainment, gambling, and sex. If you don’t enjoy these pastimes, then what’s the point of visiting the land of compromised values? Where else can you get a cheap steak, crash a Mexican wedding, get cold-decked in blackjack by a dealer named Dong, play video poker for thirteen straight hours, drink piña coladas out of a plastic coconut, bum a cigarette from an 85-year-old woman with an oxygen tank, speed away to the Spearmint Rhino in a free limo, get your dick rubbed by a former Miss Teen USA, puke in the back of a cab driven by a retired Navy SEAL, snort cheap cocaine in the bathroom at O’Sheas, and then catch a lucky card on the river to crack pocket aces and win a poker tournament? Only in Las Vegas.Back to what I was trying to say... that this is an awesome time to be alive. If life were a bar, then this is last call. The bartender is flicking the lights on and off and ringing a bell to let everyone know that this is it -- order up and make it count.
Click here to buy Lost Vegas.
Usually when the WSOP Main Event begins I'm very critical of people wasting their money during a shallow and empty pursuit of fame and fortune. My feelings have changed this year because I see the apocalyptic storm on the horizon and it's coming right at us. That's why I have a new outlook on the Main Event...
It's your money. It's your life. Life is incredibly short and money is not going to matter in our dystopian future. So you know what? If you want to live the dream and play in the Main Event -- then so be it. I'll be there on the sidelines cheering you on.
I need an underdog to root for. Heck, America loves underdogs don't we? Hollywood makes gagillions of dollars cranking our derivatives of that theme year after year. In poker, Chris Moneymaker was the ultimate underdog which is why there's an "effect" with his namesake. Every day I step into the press box, I'm greeted by Chris Moneymaker's mural. I say a silent thanks and repeat the Our Father in Latin. He's why I'm here. And the underdogs are why I'm at the 2010 WSOP.
1,125 players bought into Day 1A of the Main Event. How many of those were all-star pros? Maybe a dozen with another thirty or forty who we fluffed up over the years so the public thinks they are much better than they actually are. I'd say a good third of the players in the room were legit pros -- and not "pro" in the sense that the mainstream poker media tries to label it's stable of sponsored pros from online poker rooms -- I'm talking about the hundreds of Joey Knishes in the room and hundreds more online grinders who have astute skill and talent but we have no clue about them since they lack a Hendon Mob database or don't sit on the leaderboard for Bluff Magazine POY. Those are the true professionals who play poker as a job and not for the lifestyle. They are the ones who threw up the middle finger to society, to the system, to the Man. That group of seekers are made up of young men and women who dropped out of school and didn't see a point to continuing on the path laid out for them. More seekers include hardworking people from my generation who grew frustrated with the corporate structure, false promises that were dangled in front of us for three decades, and finally mustered up enough courage for a jail break. Both groups of seekers rushed toward poker. The postmodern gold rush. They wanted to stake their own claim and make something out of nothing -- but that something would be entirely their own. One of the most attractive aspects of playing poker for a living is freedom to work for yourself and not shovel someone else's shit for a living. Mostly everyone I know doesn't like their bosses and holds a deep disdain and contempt for the assholes running their company.
In poker, you are the boss and call the shots. That's why I have a deep admiration for those hundred or so runners on Day 1A who decided to live life now because they know a shitstorm is coming. They get it and flew out to Vegas to take a shot at the big time. And if they fail? Who cares. At least they had the balls to give it a shot.
A ticket into the Main Event is a political and philosophical statement. The bold seekers are saying a collective fuck you to the system. They are taking their money along with a belief that their talents (and propensity to catch a lot of luck from the poker gods) can gain them a level of financial freedom and security that their former terms of employment and lifestyle couldn't offer.
How can you not root for those folks? That's why the 2010 Main Event has a higher percentage of seekers than ever before. They are in search of a life-altering experience that they couldn't get while sitting in their den playing online poker, or sitting in your cubicle and taking guff from a dipshit pencil-necked weasel of a boss.
Yeah, I love the seekers at the Main Event. Their motto is fuck this crazy world, fuck the Man, fuck everything -- I'm rolling up a stake a heading to Vegas to play in the WSOP Main Event.
Photos courtesy of Harper & Benjo.