Las Vegas , NV
Sin City will gobble you up and spit you out... if you let it. It's one thing to surrender to the flow, but it's another to dive head-first into the darkness. Even in our overly litigious society, Vegas has very few disclaimers. In short, you know what you're getting yourself into the moment you step off the plane at the airport or cross over the city line if you're driving from the City of Angeles. I live in LA these days, and it's absurd to think I actually prefer the vapid, plastic city nestled on the Pacific Ocean than running rampant under the scorching lights of the Strip.
But that's the real attraction about Las Vegas -- it's one of the few places you can get absolutely fucked up and have no pangs of guilt. As the saying goes, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas -- as long as you don't tweet about it and post pictures to Facebook. Otherwise, everyone in your collection of virtual friends will know you're a total degen cokehead. That's why I recommend that my friends enact a social media blackout when they embark on a Las Vegas bender. You'd really hate to wake up one day and post a FB update saying, "FML. Rolled by a hooker." To which, seven friends give you the thumbs up.
Even the sheeple love Las Vegas hooker stories. Like.
Day 15 was one of the busiest days at the 2011 WSOP with seven total events running. It's hard to keep up for a team of reporters, let alone one. Some afternoons, I feel like a fat guy grazing at a buffet -- sampling dish after dish -- while wandering around the different tournament areas. The decision to add colored sections was genius -- because savvy media members often can't find the exact tournament they're seeking, so how can we expect players to find out where they have to go. I dunno how many times a day I get asked, "Where am I supposed to go?"
I usually give them annoying philosophical answers --"No matter where you go, there you are."
Donkament final table
Photo courtesy ofVegas Images
I focused on the two final tables. Jason Somerville survived the Running of the Donk after he shipped the 1K NL event. He had a celebrity rail (well, if you consider Daniel Negreanu as a celeb), but the loudest group on the rail had to be the Hungarians. I know, sounds weird, but when non-Americans make a final table, the rail swells up with nationalistic pride -- so if a Hun makes the final table, every possible person of Hungarian decent flocks to the Rio and cheers on their countryman. That's why the Brits show up en masse and drink it up like it's the Premier League Championship match. In this instance, Richard Fridvalszki, became the center of the poker universe for all of Hungary. They invaded the press box right above the secondary table and security had to be called to flush them out. Fridvalszk busted in 4th, and Jason Somerville prevailed.
The 10K Stud Championship started with two tables and Men the Master was seeking back-to-back Stud bracelets. You couldn't miss Men the Master because he wore a disgusting mustard-yellow shirt that looked he he stole the curtains from a massage parlor on Spring Mountain and got in turned into a wardrobe. Men bubbled off the final table in 10th place and was not happy. Men unleashed a tirade in the hallway and dropped more f-bombs than Ozzy Osbourne before breakfast. I later found a shitfaced Men the Master yelling at Scotty Nguyen in the high-stakes cash game section in the Pavilion Room. I don't speak Vietnamese, so it could have been a cordial discussion of Men's bust out hand, but Scotty just stood there with a shit-eating grin and laughed in Men's face.
The final table was set and included Johnny World Hennigan. I hadn't seen too much of Hennigan, but he was one of the more interesting characters in poker before the online poker boom. Chad Brown, fresh off of cancer recovery (doctors removed a tumor in his stomach the size of a VW bug), also made the final table in one of his strongest games. But all eyes were on ElkY. The French pro is a rockstar in Korea, where they refer to him as the Phil Ivey of Video Games. ElkY looks like he could be the albino bad guy in a Fast and Furious sequel. Kev Mathers joked about ElkY's sparkling shirts.
"How does he get those dry cleaned?" asked Mathers.
"He doesn't," I explained. "ElkY is so rich, he buys new designer clothes every day and then throws it in the trash after he's done. Right now, there's a bunch of maids who are super pumped to score garish hoodies and silk shirts with rhinestones."
If ElkY lived in West Hollywood, he'd be mistaken as a Lady GaGa impersonator. But if he walks down the streets of South Korea, he's completely mobbed by screaming teenagers. Who needs poker accolades when you can make women weep at the mere sight of you? That's the stuff legends (and cult leaders) are made of.
ElkY supposedly won his first ever Stud tournament. I love it hearing stories about players playing a new form of poker -- then shipping the bracelet. It gives donks like me hope.
ElkY also joined an elite group of players -- Triple Crown Winners. Of course, this "Triple Crown" was created by the media, so it's not a real distinction, rather it's a way to quantify excellence in the major tournament series -- WSOP, WPT, and the EPT. Jake Cody joined the club last week when he won a bracelet. The other members include Roland de Wolfe and Gavin Griffin.
Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier
Courtesy of the WSOP.com
ElkY is not just one of the best all-time players from France, he's proven he's one of the best in the world. Sheesh, I hate to think what will happen if ElkY starts playing more non-hold'em events. When he gets to Hellmuth or Johnny Chan's age, he has the potential to be the #1 European bracelet winner closing in on double digits in bracelets. That is, if ElkY keeps playing poker. He reached the pinnacle of the gaming world and walked away on top. Maybe he'll get bored in a year or two and focus on becoming a world class Keno player.
Don't you hate fuckers like ElkY that are good at... everything? He's the type of guy who can learn how to play the violin in a weekend and by the end of the month, he's headlining at Carnegie Hall with Yo-Yo Ma.
We need to teach ElkY lime tossing.
Bouncin' Round the Room....
I ran into Johnny Hughes yesterday. The controversial raconteur been playing cards in Vegas for over 50 years. He always had interesting things to say about Vegas of yesteryear. I luckily got to interview him for a podcast. If you haven't listened to him yet, check out Old School Cheats.
Congrats to The Mark, a G-Vegas legend, who finished in 22nd place in the PLO-Donkament which began on Monday. He final tabled a Circuit event in New Orleans a few months ago and his PLO run good continued with a deep run in the WSOP event. Way to represent the G-Vegas boys. You made them proud.
I saw a guy puking into his hands while walking down the hallway in front of the Player of the Year banners. I dunno if he took a wicked bad beat in a satellite, or if he couldn't handle his booze. The WSOP and Vegas in the summer is rough. It's not for amateurs. You've been warned.