Wednesday, June 24, 2009

2009 WSOP Day 27: The Weigh In and the Miami John Incident

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

I wandered into the Rio shortly after Midnight on early Tuesday morning. Instead of making a beeline for the Amazon Ballroom, I found myself standing at the front desk of the Rio as a customer and checked in for an indefinite amount of nights. After 20 nights on the road, I was looking forward to returning to a familiar bed and waking up next to my girlfriend who I missed dearly. Instead, I returned to a sweltering apartment with a broken AC and empty promises to get it fixed. The result? I spent less than ten minutes in our apartment after arriving at McCarran airport. I emptied my backpack with dirty road clothes and packed a fresh batch of work clothes. I grabbed my media badge and a couple of empty moleskin notebooks and took off. This is something I'm used to since I've been living out of my backpack since 2005.

After I checked into my room at the Rio, I peered out into the darkness of night. We got a remarkable view of the Gold Coast parking lot and the Redneck Riviera somewhere in the distant shows. As bad as that joint was during my initial foray into the WSOP, the AC always worked. Sure, I constantly worried about a meth lab blowing up in a building next door, but my room was always cold when I returned from a long day at the grind.

Alas, my supposedly high end condo south of the Strip was nothing more than a piece of shit and a perfect example of the shotty construction and sleazy realtor practices that cluttered the Las Vegas Valley. Piss poor wiring. Incompetent building managers. Lazy maintenance workers. What a nice little clusterfuck to return home to. However, that's the WSOP in a nutshell. At any given moment, something can go completely wrong.

I wandered down to the Amazon Ballroom and it felt like I was seeing the WSOP for the first time. The vibrant colors. The escalating sounds and clattering of chips. The immediate flashbacks.

The Senior's event neared the end of the evening and I snuck up into an empty press box. I dusted off my old seat and sat down for the first time in almost three weeks. So much time had passed since I left Las Vegas, and in that span, I visited twenty different states and embarked on a journey while I embedded myself with hippies... Las Vegas > New York City > Jones Beach, NY > Providence, RI > Mansfield, MA > Providence, RI > New York City > Camden, NJ > Alexandria, VA > G-Vegas, SC > Asheville, NC > Gatlinburg, TN > Knoxville, TN > Manchester, TN (Bonnaroo) > Nashville, TN > Louisville, KY > Cincinnati, OH > Covington, KY > Cincinnati, OH > Burgettstown, PA > Weirton, WV > Noblesville, IN > Lake Delavan, WI > Alpine Valley, WI > Milwaukee, WI > Las Vegas.

All of that seemed like a distant dream because I was back to the trenches, like a GI who got pulled out of the shit for a few days for a little R&R befoe he returned to the front lines. And on my first day back, there was plenty of drama unfolding.

* * * * *

The Weigh In

There's a cat fight brewing between Liv Boeree and Melissa Castello. The two are scheduled to fight in an unsanctioned boxing match on July 1st inside Wanderlei Silva's gym. Poker Battle is sponsoring the event (along with UB and PokerNews) where $1K will go to the winner's charity while $500 goes to the runner-up.

Boeree has been the poster girl for UB and a subject of numerous photo dumps by the hombres at Wicked Chops Poker. Castello is most known for her video work with Poker News. I had the pleasure of working an assignment with her in Argentina. I also crossed paths back in January in the Bahamas at the PCA. It was late night at the bar and as I slurped down a Kalik, she blindsided me with a crushing blow to my bicep. I was sort of surprised that someone that small could pack a punch. She unloaded on me a second time. And you know what? It fuckin' hurt. That chick can pack a punch, so much so, that I wagered a few hundred on her impending victory.

Castello is from the rough and tumble streets of Chicago. I heard that she once fended off three crackheads on Chicago's South Side with nothing more than a broken beer bottle and her wits. In addition, she was rumored to have started a riot at a club in Manila.

"I've broken my fist and broken my nose in a fight before," commented Castello as she prattled off the numerous injuries she incurred in various brawls over the years.

On the other hand, according to her agent, Boeree completed a stint in a British prison where she became adept at close quarters hand-to-hand fighting.

I headed to the press conference and official weigh in in the hallway. It was scheduled at 4pm and didn't go off until 4:15 which cut into valuable weed smoking time. Joe Stapleton handled emcee duties as he introduced both contestants.

"I have nothing to worry about," explained a cool and confident Boeree.

I have been hearing rumbling around the legality of the match. Supposedly, the Nevada Boxing Commission isn't thrilled about the unsanctioned event and might prevent the cat fight bewteen Boeree and Castello from taking place.

For now, it's still on and scheduled for July 1st. Here's some pics of the weigh in...

Melissa Castello

Liz Boeree

Thanks to MeanGene for the stellar photos of the press conference and weigh in.

* * * * *

The Miami John Incident

I stood outside with Michalski while catching up on my recent misadventures, when I got an urgent text message from Change100. She covered Day 2 of the $2,5000 Razz event where Miami John Cernuto stopped breathing. I rushed over to the Brasilia Room and noticed that everyone from the event was milling around in the hallway. As I entered the room, the entire playing area was empty as four security guards hovered over Miami John while they waited for the paramedics to arrive.

Michael Craig played in the event and told me that he was in the middle of raking the pot at an adjacent table when the incident unfolded.

"He looked dead," said Craig as Miami John's lifeless body slumped in his chair.

They put him on the floor and it was obvious that he was not breathing. After several seconds of inactivity, Miami John moved a limb. Steve Diano was also in the Razz event and had an oxygen tank to assist him with breathing. Someone grabbed the tank and helped administer oxygen to Miami John while there was a frantic scramble to call 911. Daniel Negreanu had tweeted that Miami John had a heart attack while members of the media holed up in the press room or press box quickly descended upon Brasilia.

Dan Michalski grabbed his camera and snapped a few photos of Miami John. He got plenty of guff from his fellow media reps for taking photos of potential dead bodies, but his journalistic instincts took over. Miami John's health incident affected the tournament. The clock was stopped while he was being attended to by the Rio's staff and the paramedics who eventually burst through the back door of the Brasilia Room.

A run-in with security ensued as Michalski was told to stop shooting pictures. One of the suits in charge threatened to evict him from the property in addition to revoking his credentials. I never saw Michalski so angry before as one of the security guards kept busting his balls.

Moments after the Miami John incident, we recorded a brand spanking new episode of Tao of Pokerati. Listen here...
Episode 11.18: The Angry Michalski Episode (5:00)
Miami John was taken out of the Brasilia Room on a stretcher. He was given an ovation from the remaining players while I spotted him talking on his cell phone as he was whisked away by paramedics.

A couple of Miami John's colleagues mentioned that he had some health problems specifically with diabetes. His weight had fluctuated over the years and everyone knows that poker players are not the fittest bunch.

Nolan Dalla got word late on Tuesday that Miami John was being held overnight for tests. Apparently, he suffered from internal bleeding. Although there is no current medical explanation for his serious condition, I'm going to go out on a limb and state the obvious...

Razz almost killed Miami John Cernuto.

Razz is such an evil game, that I'm not surprised that a player almost died while playing it. Miami John must have gotten kicked in the junk so many times by Razz that it caused internal bleeding and eventually caused him to pass out at the table.

Remember that Eskimo Clark incident in 2007? It also happened during Razz. Coincidence? Or is the reality of Razz finally bubbling to the surface? It's a twisted for demented souls.

The Nevada Gaming Commission should ban Razz immediately before it harms any more poker players. The New Jersey Gaming Commission outlawed Razz in their casinos. That's why there's no HORSE events at the Borgata and only HOSE mixed games. The folks in New Jersey know what's up. Razz kills.

One media rep mentioned this amazing prop bet... which event will most likely have a person die while playing? Razz or the Senior's NL event?

That's an awesome fuckin' proposition bet. The initial choice is the Senior's event because it's for players 50 and older, many of which have serious health problems. However, the logical choice is Razz, mainly because a game like Razz is for pure sadists who take pleasure in pain.

"There's no other game like Razz, where you can start off four to the nuts, then brick up, and end up with toilet paper for a hand," explained F-Train who went deep in last year's Razz event.

Maybe someone might not die directly from playing Razz at the table, but Razz tilt is severe enough that it might send a player on a suicidal binge where they off themselves after a horrible session of Razz.

Brick. Brick. Brick. Brick.
* * * * *

Bouncin' Round the Room on Day 27

Jimmy Fricke went deep in $2,500 Mixed Game. I had some money on him to make a final table. He started Day 3 as one of the short stacks but doubled up early on. He jumped up to third in chips before slipping back into one of the shorties. He finished in 9th place and bubbled off the final table. Gobbomom was in attendance today. I spoke to her a bit on the rail. She had flown out to Las Vegas the night before to spend time with her son. She randomly picked vacation days on the same day as he went deep. Jerrod Ankenman ended up winning that event and he collected his first bracelet.

Early on in the Razz event, I sweated Archie Karas, Shirley Rosario & Mickey Doft. They each busted early on Day 2 and as action raced towards the money bubble, I kept a keen eye on Greg 'Flash in the Pan' Pappas and Michael Craig. Craig had played in almost 25 straight WSOP events without cashing. That streak ended when he was among the final three tables and guaranteed a cash. The final 13 return to the Rio on Wednesday and play down to a bracelet. Jeff Lisandro is the chip leader and seeking bracelet number three for this summer. Michael Craig is in the middle of the pack and still alive.

I'm staying at the Rio and a former bracelet winner is also staying on my floor. We made some chit chat as I saw him leave his room this morning. Anyway, as I walked by a few hours ago, a room service attendant was delivering him some food but a working girl in a bathrobe answered the door. That's how bracelet winners roll in Vegas.... you get your food and sex delivered to your front door.

Since the actual title of this segment is based upon the name of a Phish song, you should head over to Coventry for an index of reviews that I wrote over the last two weeks.

God damn. I love French existentialism. The quote of the day had to be by Benjo.... "The only whores I respect are the ones who are actual whores."

Don't forget you can follow me on Twitter because that where I've been providing random updates throughout the day.

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

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