Las Vegas, NV
Photo by Wolynski
In creation stories, God waved his finger at the void and declared, "Ala peanut butter sandwiches." And viola! The world was created. It wasn't an easy task and took the Big Cheese six days before He decided his work was done on Earth. If you know your scripture, you know that on the seventh day, God rested.
I have no proof if the story checks out, but everyone religious person I know takes off at least one day a week to worship their Creator. Too bad poker players at the WSOP don't take off every seven days to worship Benny Binion by wearing a cowboy hat and heading to downtown Las Vegas to pay homage to the man who created what is known as the postmodern poker industry.
Nope, the WSOP is a 24-hour operation for seven straight weeks. In the age of the internet providing lightning quick information and the skewed entitlement of the international public which desires a 24/7 bombardment of a news cycle, it's impossible to tell dig up complete stories and instead, tiny nuggets of info are released. This is not an issue indigenous to poker, if anything it's more rampant in mainstream media as well. Hence, the insatiable demand of the public forces news organizations to focus on edible bits of information as the lines between jouranlism and entertainment are blurred.
Luckily, I don't have too many problems with that arduous task. You good folks tune in here to get my take on the daily happenings. The Tao is the filter to which you'd like to see the world -- whether it's an intense bright white lifting the darkness, or a blurry psychotropic surreal journey of spending almost every waking second inside a casino for seven weeks straight.
I did that once, staying inside a casino for several weeks straight, and I'll never do it again because it nearly killed me and seriously damaged my brain. I know some pros who will say the same thing. It's not about being "jaded", rather the main goal is to stay sane in a city of compromising vales. If you spend too much time inside a casino, you will either... 1) lose all your money, or 2) go you become a lunatic, frothing at the mouth, otherwise known as a zombie.
Welcome to the zombie apocalypse. You're only hope is to go batshit crazy before your bankroll runs out. Otherwise, you're completely fucked after the "vampire squids" suck every single cent of cash out of your pocket. Thanks to Matt Taibbi for the term "vampire squids" to describe Goldman Sachs, which I'm going to borrow for this piece and use to describe the casino fat cats.
If the vampires don't get you, the vultures will.
When you arrived on flight #2103 from Chicago's O'Hare airport, you don't see the vultures circling above. It's not that they are visible, it's just you're usually in a frame of mind which prevents you from seeing anything tragically wrong in Sin City. After all, this is America's playground, right? A safe haven to frolic and re-live old glory days with a small percentage that you'll go home a winner.
But if you had kids and knew a local playground was crawling with pedophiles, kidnappers, Scientologists, and other shady characters of ill repute, there's no way you'd every let your loved ones step foot onto that playground. That's absurd, right? Yet I see some of the most intelligent men and women in the world disembark at the airport and step right into a black hole where vampire squids and vultures are waiting to steal all your money and rip apart meaty chunks of your soul.
The honeymoon is over. Week 7 of the 2011 WSOP has come and gone. I got two days of rest. I'm the lucky one, while others continued to slug it out day for a week straight. I hope those brave souls last another week before Lost Vegas swallows them up.
I took the weekend off and had pre-written something in my head on my flight back to Vegas, however, the moment I stepped back into the Amazon Ballroom, I deleted my pre-draft. Why? The Devil.
I heard the Devil was lurking around the Rio last week and despite a few confirmed sightings from my friends, I didn't see him. It's not that I didn't believe them -- I couldn't see him for whatever reasons. The Devil chose not to present himself. He has the powers of invisibility and can make the hair on the back of your neck stand straight up. But something happened to me over the weekend that slightly altered my chemical makeup with a few traces still left in my system. As a result, whenever I step back into Las Vegas, it's like walking around in the darkness with night-vision goggles because you see shit you never would have seen otherwise.
He stood in the middle of the Amazon Ballroom and took a few steps toward my direction. The moment he saw me, he whirled around. He knew what was up -- that a few sips of special tea rejuvenated my powers to peek into the souls of all beings -- human and otherworldly. Instead of a confrontation, the Devil disappeared into the crowd, but not before I gave KevMath a panicked look in my eyes and pointed in his direction.
"It's the Devil, Kevin," I whispered. "Stay the fuck out of his way."
The Devil is a project manager. He has his own army of agents which were dispersed way before Las Vegas even became the Las Vegas we know about. The Devil pops in and out checking up on the progress of his attempt to turn good people to the dark side. Much like a vampire needs blood to survive, the Devil and his agents need fresh, new souls to maintain their nourishment. If they don't eat with regularity, they will eventually die.
The only way to win this battle between light and dark is to not fall prey to all of the temptations Las Vegas offers around every corner. The lure you with curiosity, greed, and depravity. Sometimes, something as simple as a day off could do wonders to strengthen your soul and you will have enough energy to rebuke the tantalizing advances of the Devil's agents. The vampires and vultures prey on the weak and feeble, and after a week straight at the WSOP, the Amazon Ballroom becomes a fertile feeding ground.
Last summer, the Brits got off to a raging start and the WSOP had a taste of the British Invasion led by a group of young, brash twenty-somethings, many of whom had received their poker education via the virtual world. The young Brits brimming with confidence and their pockets bulging over with Pound notes with the Queen's royal image stamped on the front, flew out to Las Vegas for the first time. Go west, young Brits and conquer foreign lands in the name of the Queen. Or something like that.
With fewer and fewer Europeans and Scandis willing to risk massive tax obligations on their WSOP winnings, the Brits didn't have to slash and burn their way through Scandi-heavy fields like they do on some EPT stops. Simply put, the Brits arrived last year and kicked some ass. They have the medals, aka the bracelets, to prove their valiant bravery on the battlefield.
And many of them are back and brought some new friends along for the ride. Since last Friday, a pair of twenty-somthing Brits won bracelets. On Friday, Jake Cody took down a bracelet the largest ever prize pool for a Heads-Up tournament. On Monday night, his childhood friend Matt Perrins equaled his feat. Perrins shipped Event #9, $1,500 NL 2-7 Single Draw bested a field of 275 players to win a game he claimed to have never played before. He pulled a Johnny Bax. Back in 2005, Cliff "JohnnyBax" Josephy had never played Seven-card Stud before he bought into the tournament -- and he promptly won it -- after a quick tutorial before game time. A similar story happened to Jen Harman many moons ago when she received a quick tutorial outside the old poker room at Binion's Horseshoe.
When I hear stories about people playing a game for the first time -- and winning a bracelet -- it almost sounds too good to be true and something the press would make up to induce more donks into pissing away their money in games they've never played before. But it's unfair to the players involved. Sure, they might not know how the intricacies of the game -- but they are skilled card players (notice the emphasis on card) and they have an amazing knack for learning quickly on the fly. Alas, not too many players can learn something fast and become an expert. That puts them in the same category of geniuses, savants, and aliens.
Maybe we should do a alien DNA test on Matt Perrins to make sure he's terrestrial. I'd hate to think most of the WSOP bracelet winners are non-human, but if you spent any time inside the Rio or Pavilion, you almost wonder if half the people in the room are really from this world?
Between alien hybrids running rampant inside the Rio and the Devil agents trying to lure weak souls into the back of their unmarked vans, you probably should get some rest. One week of the WSOP is complete and with six more to go, you're going to have to use every ounce of energy to ward off the British invasion, alien hybrids, vampire squids, and the Devil.