Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Bouncin' Round the Room and Bathwater Surprise

"Strip clubs are homes for troubled girls," Michalski nonchalantly said as he sipped his Lite beer.

He would know. He runs tournaments at the Lodge, an infamous Gentleman's club in Dallas where naked women deal in his weekly tournament. If there's one guy I'm jealous of, it's Dan Michalski from Pokerati fame. The lucky bastard gets to train strippers on the finer art of dealing tournaments while he surrounds himself with semi-naked women on a weekly basis. Plus he's a real journalist. Not like the other hacks here at the WSOP, some of which cannot even spell Jen Harman's name right.

On Tuesday night, we were just two off-duty WSOP reporters sitting in the lounge at the Excalibur several miles away from the action at the Rio, while a horrible second-rate bar band cranked out Clash and No Doubt covers. We reflected on the first week of action at the WSOP as true veterans. This is my second WSOP and Michalski's third. We agreed that the big story so far has not been Dutch "Bipolar" Boyd winning a bracelet or Carlos Mortensen making two final tables. The big story has been the restrictions placed upon the media this year by the suits at Harrah's. And their decision to limit "live updates" has been hurting every party involved.

The folks at home are getting crappy WSOP coverage. The companies that spent a gajillion dollars on exclusive rights on updates are realizing they overpaid for the product. And the players are not getting the proper publicity that they deserve due to the spotty updates. I'm willing to give it another week or so and hope this clusterfuck improves, but as of today, the system that is in place is not working. Even the Poker Wire girls look frustrated and perplexed.

"We can't do what we used to doing," one admitted. "And the coverage is suffering."

It's sad when railbirds and tourists are in a better position to provide more in depth coverage than the rest of us with press badges. I'll save that bitter discussion for a later post. For now, I'm taking it easy at the WSOP. I had an amazing weekend in Hollyweird seeing two Widespread Panic shows. Now my brother is in town for a week and a slew of friends are coming into town over the next few days. I'm not working too hard this week and I'm saving up all of my energies for the main event. I'm just getting used to the new rules and restrictions while doing my best to stay out of trouble. I expect my coverage to evolve over the next few weeks and I'll finally find some sort of routine and rhythm.

The other big story of the first week of the 2006 WSOP has been the whorish nature of this year's WSOP. I'm a participant and just as guilty. Everyone is cashing in on the WSOP's success and popularity. That's why the halls are laced with Milwaukee's Beast large display cans. That's why you'll see a Party Poker logo on the felt of every single table. That's why Image Masters is selling their photos to the players (when Flipchip will give you better quality ones for free). That's why every major online poker room has a hospitality suite because they are hoping that free drinks and free hats will entice players to run home and open up an account.

They should change the name of this event to the World Series of Pimping. Between all the bad beats in the Amazon room and all the exploitation going on in the hallways, everyone is pretty much getting fucked. And not in a good way. I'm sure that if Benny Binion would have been around today, he would have cashed in on the popularity, but he would have continued to share the wealth. Back in the day he gave media reps free rooms and food. I'm lucky that Harrah's hasn't charged me for water bottles in the media room.

Even bad beat stories have risen in prices. There was a time when you could tell a bad beat story for free. Now you have to play $2. I've already heard about ninety or so and haven't wanted to slit my wrists during 82% of the stories. Ninety bad beat stories, and it's not even event #10 since I've been skipping a lot of the action.

* * * * *

I spotted John D'Agostino, Layne Flack, and Bob Stupak playing NL cash games with tourists that hid behind sunglasses, baseball hats, and iPods. Everyday a new punk rolls into town and puts his bankroll on the line at the Rio. They play too many pots and get destroyed post flop against savvy vets like Layne Flack. But the young guns will bluff and slowplay their way into a "story of a lifetime" that they will take back home and tell to their friends at the water cooler or in their homegames.

Annie Duke was sporting the Fidel Castro look at the Rio on Tuesday. Phil Hellmuth was decked out in an ugly black and yellow UB hockey jersey. And Mickey Applebaum looks like he always does... like he just woke up from sleeping in his car after a three day Jim Beam and cough syrup bender.

* * * * *

"I would totally drink his bathwater," one female admirer of Finnish boy-toy Patrik Antonius said out loud to no one in particular.

"Where's that hawwwwwwt French chick?" an overweight guy with a thick New England accent sporting a Red Sox cap said as he fumbled with his digital camera to get a picture of Evelyn Ng.

"Oooh, there's Bill Hellmuth," one guy with a bad sunburn in a sleeveless Harley Davidson shirt said as he pointed out Hellmuth to his wife. "He's the host of my favorite show Celebrity Poker Showdown."

"Where's Gus Hansen?" one guy wearing an 'I'm all in!' t-shirt stopped and asked me. "I heard he lost all his money in the big game."

The last rumor I heard, Gus was stuck $3 million last December which he owed to the Bellagio. He apparently lost that much in the Big Game that he needed a line of credit from the Bellagio. Knowing Gus, he probably won most of it back a few days later flopping a straight with 5-8s.

* * * * *

Derek and I ate lunch at Red Rock Casino before we sat in the sports book with Grubby and watched France's 1-0 victory over Portugal. I had money on the French the last two games. It comes down to an Italy-France final on Sunday. And I got the Italians to go all the way.

I just bumped into Jan from 50 Outs. He's a pro from Germany. I noticed that his wife Katja was playing in the Seven-card Stud event. Stop by and read their recaps from the WSOP.

Actually I didn't bump into Jan. I was sitting in the hallway outside the media room and he walked by. Several people including Otis, Michalski, and Friedman asked me, "What the hell are you doing out here?"

The short answer is that the marble floor is super cool and keeps my sperm count low. The long answer is that the wifi access is slightly faster out here.

Nolan Dalla walked by and joked, "You're a weird guy, Pauly. It must be a New York thing. You're always gonna do things your way."

* * * * *

Make sure you check out some of Flipchip's WSOP photos, like the one below.

Mike Sexton deep in thought

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