Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The Real Vegas Reports... Chapter 1: Day 1, Part I
"Let it be said that Pauly knows how to throw one helluva party." - Iggy
First of all, thanks to The Poker Prof from in addition to the rest of his crew, his dad, Santos, and Foiled Coup. They helped get the pros together for the Meet & Greet. And definitely thanks to Dick Gatewood from Sam's Town. He worked hard to set up the ballroom for breakfast and his tournament went as smoothly as any live one I've attended. His dealers and staff were great. We were treated like high rollers! Seriously, everyone's thanking me for the weekend, when it's Dick and the Poker Prof you should be thanking. My hat goes off to you for all of your help. Now go read their blogs and sites... there's plenty of Christmas shopping you can do on their other sites.

Special thanks to all of the professionals who showed up. Ron Rose hooked all of us up with free copies of his book. Charlie Shoten handed out excerpts of his upcoming book and shared a lot of his wisdom in a great lecture. Thanks to Tom McEvoy for enduring a Q&A session with the bloggers. And thanks to Max Pescatori who skipped a Bellagio event to play with us and take all of our money, except Felicia's.


There's never a perfect place to start a Vegas trip report. You just have to close your eyes and pluck moments out of the air. Ah, and notes are a godsend. I flipped through the first pages of my notebook. I filled an entire small one up with hand histories, overall thoughts, ideas, cell numbers of strippers (just kidding Briana), and even a poem or two. Based on my handwriting, I could tell that I was nervous. I might seem like a guy that acts cool in tough situations but on the inside I was freaking out for the entire week before Vegas. If I wasn't busy writing a new novel in November, I would have been freaking out some more. Some days I feel like I'm hanging onto life by a tiny piece of dental floss as I'm getting tossed around, when other days it's the opposite and I feel like I tearing down the open road of life at 100mph in full control of my destiny. I prayed to the poker gods that Vegas would be a trail blazing adventure. After reading people's trip reports, I'm starting to think it was.

One of the good aspects of my personality is that I feel I can talk to anyone about anything. Individually I was not worried about meeting anyone, even the pros. I love those types of things. My concern was meeting twenty bloggers for the first time (and the more I thought about it, someone like -EV, Bill or Maudie never met any of us before so for them it was meeting 30 people) and not finding enough one-on-one time with everyone. My biggest regret is that I did not get to spend a substantial amount of quality time with... well, pick a name! I wish I could have spent an entire day with everyone one-on-one... walking around Vegas, having a good meal and conversation, and playing at a table with you against tourists, specifically Cowboys. That was tough and as much fun as I had with some people, I felt that I let down a lot the others due to limitations in time, my short attention span, and my precocious gambling and scathing substance abuse problems. Bottom line, I wish I had more time to hang out with all of you but the time we did spend together was special to me. I might do something like HDouble posted jotting down some special memories that I shared with everyone. Yes, I am honored and humbled that everyone took time to come out.

I am also touched to hear how so many folks that could not come out wished us good vibes and were hitting up our blogs all weekend, looking for live updates. Everyone who didn't come was certainly missed. And that might be my second biggest regret of the weekend... that not everyone got to come. I know that this weekend started the ball rolling for future live events, and I hope that we'll have a bunch in 2005 so you can pick one to attend. Seriously, everyone was much cooler than I imagined.

Oh, and my third biggest regret was everyone blowing off Felicia's stud tutorial after the tourney. To Felicia and Glenn, I fully accept the blame on that one for failing to rally the troops to get kick ass advice from a world class stud player. I definitely lost out on improving my stud game. I hope you can forgive me for that.

I knew that everyone spent time and money and cashed in favors (spousal or work-related) to make the trip and with knowing all of that, I was hoping that everyone would have a great time and more specifically, have one great Vegas story. The more I reflected on my flight home, the more I realized that the blogger weekend was one of those events that could be the core of a future novel. Don't get your hopes up too high. I have at least three other novels to write before I could consider writing up this weekend. Which is why these mini-reviews and live updates have helped, along with my scribbled notes, and these trip reports. Seriously, I spent hours this morning ready everyone's versions of the weekend and seeing some random pictures of all of us out there.

Getting There

Every journey begins with a first step. I knew I was going to Vegas in December over a year ago. Derek and I love heading out to Vegas during March Madness and the week or two after Thanksgiving. As soon as I mentioned it to Boy Genius while I was dropping him off at the airport in Philadelphia after the insane AlCantHang's Bash at the Boathouse, both he and his brother Bob booked their flights and rooms as soon as he got back to Michigan. Once AlCantHang and EvaCanHang heard the epic news, their posse booked flights. With six of us confirmed, and knowing Felicia and Glenn were nearby I decided to get in touch with the Poker Prof to find out if he knew a place that would host a private table. I spoke to Dick from Sam's Town and he offered up a private tournament. And that's how it all began. One by one some of the bloggers and folks from NYC I was friends with joined in. That was expected. Several bloggers that I only knew through reading their blogs (and never spoke to before via IMs or calls) were reserving spots. Now that was cool! I was worried about filling up one table. We now had two tables and it looked like we were going to fill up three. And in the last week, I got word that HDouble and Daddy from Snail Trax were coming and I knew that I had to stop worrying. Everyone was going to have a blast.

Daddy was the first blogger to arrive late Thursday night. He called me from the airport to announce the beginning of his whiskey bender. Just as I was falling asleep, The Poker Prof called with great news; Marcel Luske was going to attend the function. Of course, I couldn't sleep all night anticipating my trip to Vegas. I should have left Thursday night. I woke up restless to a wet, cold, rainy day in the big city. When Derek and I get into the cab at 7am on Friday to go to the airport, I forgot which one were were flying out of. NYC has three major airports. I knew it wasn't Newark. So I found myself with my first coin-flip situations. LGA or JFK? I figured it was JFK and called to make sure. I was so flustered that I forgot to print up my flight info.

I always fly JetBlue to Vegas from JFK. They have direct TV for everyone. That helps kill half of a 5 hour flight. But after the second hour I was sick of four ESPN stations. I secretly wished that they carried TBS so I could watch Dawson's Creek. Instead I ended up watching cartoons and avoided the real world and stayed away from the alphabet news stations. I began counting the minutes to touchdown. Luckily were were 30 minutes early. On line at the cab stand, Derek spotted Senator John McCain, while I was trying to read my seven text messages and over a dozen voicemails.

As we got out of the cab at The Excalibur, I heard someone shout, "Pauly!" I looked over and AlCantHang and EvaCanHang were rolling up in their rental car. We checked in, grabbed a quick bite and found Daddy, BG and Bob chilling out at the sports book. Within minutes I was hearing the first of many Vegas stories. Daddy's story was hilarious. He was telling me about eating a patty melt at a diner in Sam's Town at 5am with some guy named Vinny. It took just a few seconds to drag them over to the poker room. We all put our names on a list. Felicia and Glenn sat down at a NL table and I almost joined in, but I didn't want to lose some of my bankroll in the first hour against some of the best NL players I have met! I decided to play the lowest limit $1-3 because I wanted to take plenty of table breaks to chat with everyone and be able to field phone calls and meet everyone as they arrived. Most of the weekend was like that. I didn't get to play as much as I would have liked because I was acting as the host, especially on the first day. Luckily were seated at a new table around 1:50pm PCT and the mayhem began
The first ever blogger table in Vegas...
Seat 1: Derek
Seat 2: Tourist
Seat 3: EvaCanHang
Seat 4: Bob
Seat 5: AlCantHang then later Maudie
Seat 6: Me
Seat 7: BG
Seat 8: Daddy
Seat 9: Tourist and later Mas
Seat 10: Tourist and later Otis
The action started out fast. EvaCanHang adheres to the no-limping rule. Bob liked to see a lot of flops and pounded Corona's while AlCantLimp tracked down waitresses for shots of SoCo.

1:55pm PCT... I called a preflop raise with 55. Daddy raised me after I hit a set on the flop. I just called and even asked, "Do you have a set?" I ended up cracking his pocket Jacks. As I stacked up my chips I had the first surreal Vegas moment... How the hell did I get here? BG to my left, The Hangs to my right, Derek and Daddy at the same table with me. Amazing.

1:59PM PCT... AlCantHang got the Hammer for the second time in three hands. He loses to EvaCanHang's Hilton Sisters.

2:45pm PCT... I hear over the loudspeaker, "Dr. Pauly, you have guests at the front desk. Dr. Pauly?" I always wanted to be paged in Las Vegas and I was by Otis and Bad Blood. I had seen pictures of both guys but lemme say, Bad Blood had a pair of guns for arms. If I was cut like that, I'd wear muscle shirts all the time.

3:30pm PCT... Felicia got an Omaha 8 game going for a second blogger table. I passed. I'm a bleeder in Omaha 8 and bankroll management was important for me the first few days. Sounded like everyone was having a good time in the far corner. Whenever I came over to the table everyone asked, "Where's Maudie?" There was a woman roughly the same age as Maudie playing Omaha with the bloggers. She had the same hairstyle and wore glasses. For a second a few of us thought that was her. I called her cell just to make sure it wasn't. Sure enough she arrived and was on her way! I feel that I have special connections with a lot of poker bloggers. The most unique is with Maudie. Sure we are divided by a whole generation gap (Baby Boomer vs. Gen X) as well as a regional difference (big city boy vs. an Okie gal) but we have plenty of connections. She's a theater gal. We have similar tastes in music and donuts, and then there's poker. We've had a whole running joke that Maudie had given me up for adoption 32 years ago and we found each other through poker. We were even going to try to pull off that story at a table. We almost did it once. But I'll tell you that later. My point is this... poker is a unique entity that brings people from all works of life together. It was great to see that connection in real life.

Anyway, here's what Maudie said about our first meeting:
I found the poker room at last and immediately spied Pauly (I'd seen his picture), sitting at a table playing. I went to the counter, however, and asked them to page Dr. Pauly. The guy said, "Dr. Pauly? I know where Dr. Pauly is..." and he took me to Pauly. And it begins. I got a big hug from Pauly, then I spied something out of the corner of my eye - someone stood up and yelled "Ant Maudie!" - and there was Al, arms outstretched and a shit-eating grin on his face.
I felt like a celebrity during those moments. Shit, I felt like the most famous person in Vegas for the entire weekend. It was pretty cool. Maudie sat down and we all started chit chatting. It was almost like Party Poker but with a bigger chat box. One of the dealers asked us how we knew each other. The table grew silent for a few seconds when I muttered, "Prison." That got a chuckle for everyone. Again, I usually don't tell people at a poker table that I'm a poker blogger. And I didn't want to blow our cover.

The Hangs and Felicia and Glenn headed out for sushi off the Strip. I desperately wanted to go but I felt I had to stick around the Excalibur to wait for more arrivals. Grubby was no where to be found and that was a concern. That was the first coin flip decision I had to make in Vegas and I was bummed out that I missed everything especially reading Felicia's take on the dinner.

We played for a little while longer as I directed people to the poker room and giving out other minor directions. I needed some food and we ate at the diner right next to the poker room.

... to be continued.

I will end this section for now. I have too much to write and will spread it out over the next week.

Here's the timetable of the rest of my trip reports:

12.16 - Day 1, Part II: Playing w/ Maudie & cowboys and meeting Iggy
12.17 - Day 2, Part I: Sam's Town Meet & Greet and tourney report
12.18 - Day 2, Part II: More blogger tables, Hammers, & late night hijinks
12.19 - Day 3, Part I: Sun. am shots and NFL betting at Mandalay Bay
12.20 - Day 3, Part II: Late night hijinks including Bellagio hookers
12.21 - Day 4, Part I: Aladdin tourney report & hanging w/ Grubby & Derek
12.22 - Day 4, Part II: The Brawl revisited and Late Night with Otis
12.23 - Day 5: Afterthoughts plus my fav. pictures & quotes
Lucky Julie, 3rd place winner at the WPBT Holiday Classic, will be posting some of her tourney write up here as well.

Stay tuned for more wild and wacky Vegas stories. There are plenty fo Hammer stories too. In the meantime, please visit everyone's blog for their kickass trip reports; Iggy, Derek, Poker Prof, Flip Chip, and Foiled Coup from Lasvegasvegas, Dick from Buy It In Vegas, Riding the F Train, Boy Genius, Bad Blood, Bill Rini, Felicia, Glenn, Otis & CJ & G-Rob, Al Cant Hang & EvaCanHang, Maudie, Signor Ferrari, - EV, Bob, Grubby, Mas from Genius of Poker, Martin from JMC Automatic and Brian, Linda from Poker Works, and Daddy from Snail Trax.

Some are up, some are in the process of writing them, and some people like my brother are swamped with work, so I'm sure you'll be reading about this trip over the next few weeks. Thanks for stopping by.

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