Wednesday, June 06, 2007

D-Day

Wow. It's really finally here. Tonight, I head out to Las Vegas for my second blogger gathering -- and my first in a year -- as well as my second trip to the World Series of Poker. To be honest, even as recently as about 12 months ago, I never ever thought I would ever show my face at the WSOP. I mean, I love playing poker, I've been playing it with some regularity in casinos and home games since I was a teenager, and probably no one was more in to televised poker a few years back than I. But even though I like to think I'm pretty dam good at this game, it never ever occurred to me that I could ever actually play at the World Series of Poker. It seemed more like a dream, a fantasy if you will. And yet there I was almost exactly 11 months ago, sitting down to play Event #13, the $2500 buyin nlh tournament, and stealing blinds from then defending World Champion Joe Hachem who was sitting just to my right. And then watching in horror as Joe sucked out a runner runner flush on me after getting me allin with his pair of 4s against my pair of 6s on the flop.

It's really hard to describe the mania that is the WSOP room at the Rio. First of all, it's the biggest room you've ever seen, and it is basically covered from corner to corner and wall to wall with poker tables. And the atmosphere is just plain crazy. Tons and tons of poker players, spectators, dealers and other casino employees, hot masseuses, food runners, you name it, all basically wall to wall for as far as the eye can see. I tried to take some pictures last year on my cell phone, but the cameras on these phones are so horrible for the most part and the pics I took (still on my phone now btw) are basically worthless. I mean, I know what the pictures are from and they mean a lot to me, but if you saw it you wouldn't even know what you were looking at. But trust me, being at the Rio for the actual WSOP is a spectacle that I hope all of you out there get to experience at some point in your life if you have any interest at all in poker tournaments. I fuckin loved every minute of it.

One of the other really great things about actually being at the WSOP is all the poker pros you see. Sure for guys like Pauly and Otis and others, this has become commonplace, but for a regular stiff like me, being able to walk around the halls or the big room and literally bump in to Daniel Negreanu, Phil Gordon, Sam Farha, Howard Lederer, Doyle and all these other guys I've been watching and emulating on tv for years literally took my breath away. I told these stories last year on my blog, but I had an awesome conversation with Phil Gordon for a good 10 minutes in the Full Tilt hospitality suite. I chatted up Steve Dannenman while he got a massage in the hallway right outside the main WSOP room. I remember following Sean Sheikhan as he repeatedly begged Eli Elezra to stake him in the $2500 event in which I played, with Sean looking totally slovenly and unkempt and wearing like bunny slippers and pajama shorts. I actually had been walking the other way at the time, but when I happened to walk by that scene I immediately turned right around and followed the two guys for a good 5 or 10 minutes. It was uber-lame actually, with Sheikhan clearly out of money at the time and utterly desperate, and Elezra wasn't having any of it. I snapped some cell phone photos of that too -- also only really recognizable to me as I look at them right now on my phone -- but for whatever reason that remains one of my lasting memories of my WSOP trip last summer.

And then of course there are the people. The bloggers. The donkeys you play against in private online tournaments a couple times a week. In many cases, the people whose words you read on a daily or at least semi-weekly basis. In the flesh. WPBT gatherings mean hanging in person with Waffles. Getting to know a real-life dwarf for the first time in my life. Forging relationships with people I still consider good friends here a year later. This week I'm looking forward to seeing a number of you again for the second time, and many of you for the first time as well which I really can't wait to do. As I look back on my time in Vegas last summer, my first WSOP experience was awesome, surely one which I will not forget for a long time. But it was the times I spent in person with the bloggers that will really stay with me forever. And I'm looking forward to that same sort of thing this week in Vegas as well.

Which brings me to my specific plans for the weekend. I leave Wednesday night from JFK (you may know this airport as "terrorism central", depending on where you live), so I'm looking forward to a longass security line and countless other lines as well I'm sure. I won't be checking a bag, though, so at least I won't have to wait on the other end at baggage claim before heading out into the Vegas desert. My flight arrives at McCarran shortly after midnight Vegas time. Currently my plan is to cab directly over to the Rio to register for Thursday's 6-max WSOP event, which I have decided to play instead of the Venetian deep stack tournament that day. A bunch of bloggers I love chatting with and reading are going to be at the Venetian on Thursday, but in the end I just can't escape the allure of the WSOP. I can't argue with Chad that the structure and certainly the field size will be much more favorable at the Venetian than at the WSOP. But you know what? I won my friggin WSOP buyin on full tilt, and as my boy jeciimd aptly pointed out in my comments yesterday, 6-max nlh has been my game over the past several months on full tilt. I utterly love the whole WSOP atmosphere, and I just don't want to miss out on the opportunity to play twice in the world's most prestigious poker tournament, rather than playing a daily event at the Venetian with friends, even if I am significantly hurting my chances of cashing in the tournament. I get out to Vegas once a year (if I'm lucky -- given my wife's reaction this week leading up to me leaving, I would not even bet on my being out there again next year), and having won two WSOP buyins this spring, I've decided to take my shots at the Big Dawg of all poker tournaments. So I will register for Thursday's tournament sometime after midnight tonight, and then I plan to head straight to my room at the Monte Carlo for a good night's sleep. I will sleep in as late as I fucking want on Thursday morning -- literally for the first time since last summer in Vegas as I have two young children who don't seem to realize that one can sleep past whenever the sun comes up -- and then grab a nice big breakfast before heading back to the Rio to do my thing.

Now, hopefully those of you in Vegas this weekend won't see much of me, as if all goes perfectly then I will be playing in the 6-max WSOP event all day and all night on Thursday, all day and all night on Friday, and then again at the final table on Saturday. This of course would mean that I would miss Saturday's $1500 buyin nlh WSOP tournament, but a WSOP final table is as good a reason as any I can think of for that to happen. Then if I win that event on Saturday, I will find a way to blow about half of my winnings on a massive binge for all the bloggers on Saturday night. Otherwise, though, I have some generalized alternative plans in case -- somehow -- I don't final table the 6-max event. If I go out on Day 1 on Thursday, then I will probably spend Friday tracking down bloggers and hopefully playing cash poker and maybe betting on some sports -- always a guaranteed loser for me -- until heading over to the MGM on Friday night for mixed games with the WPBT. This was one of the most fun nights of the trip last year and I expect it to be the same this year too, and a great opportunity to see some new faces and get re-acquainted with some old ones as well. Then on Saturday, pretty much no matter what (assuming I'm still not in Event #12), I will be sitting down at noon again back at the Rio for WSOP Event #15, the $1500 straight nlh tournament. Now, cleverly I have scheduled my departing flight for very early in the morning on Sunday. So, if I don't go out of that event on Day 1, then I'll need to spend some time on Saturday night / Sunday morning rescheduling my Sunday a.m. flight until Monday a.m. Then I get to call my boss and give him the big news that I won't be at work on Monday. He'll effing hate that given how busy things are at work right now for me, but at the same time I've let him know it's a possibility and I refuse to let that affect my play at all in Event #15. So then Sunday I leave very early in the morning, so I can get back to New York in time to put the kids to bed and get back into the normal routine before returning to the grind and the rat race on Monday morning.

So that's the plan for the weekend, guys. Anyone who is out there, please feel free to contact me via my cell -- it should be on Falstaff's list if he's updated it in the past week since I finally got off my ass and emailed him -- any time this weekend, which I will be happy to answer if I can. Text messaging may be better while I am playing in the WSOP events because I know they can be kinda anal about letting us talk on cell phones while at the table. And the best part for those of you out there reading this who will not be in Vegas to hear updates from me first-hand, is that this year, unlike last summer, I will be bringing my laptop this year. So, while I'm certainly not going to have my pc with me while at the Series, I will at least try to get some drunken updates up about my WSOP play and about the weekend in general, most likely in the late evenings once I return to my room for the night. So hopefully you will either be out in Vegas chatting me up live and in the flesh, or you can read all about my Vegas poker exploits here on a nightly (or so) basis.

One more quick thing before I sign off for the day, and before the next time you hear from me I will be in Las Fuggin Vegas -- I just wanted to say a personal goodbye to the WWdN, which was held for the last time this past Tuesday night on pokerstars. As many bloggers have been quick to point out, the WWdN was really the private tournament that started it all, at least as far as I'm concerned. When I started playing the WWdN nearly two years ago now, it wasn't just my favorite weekly blogger tournament. It was the only regular blogger tournament. Today's standbys like the Mookie (be there tonight at 10pm ET on full tilt, password is "vegas1" as always btw), Riverchasers, and even my own MATH tournament were barely even twinkles in the respective hosts' eyes when I first got started with the WWdN, and back in the day it really was our group's only chance to get together on any kind of a regular basis for some old-fashioned online pokery goodness. And as much as I've complained about the play in this event as time has worn on -- somebody please tell me again how I ever actually won one of these things -- on the whole it has been fun. Really fun. Last night I did my part to send the WWdN out with a bang, as I final tabled that biatch, and ended up sitting with Wil for the better part of the trek to that point. For all the joking aside, Wil really is a great guy. He's funny, he's cool and he's down to earth and doesn't take his quasi-celebrity too seriously at all. I really think that's been a big part of what's made the WWdN so fun and so successful over the past couple of years. So kudos and a heartfelt thank you to Wil, for playing a big role in the formation of the community of poker bloggers that we all know and love today, and for two years of really fun memories. While I'm sad to see the WWdN go, you know what? We bloggers have done a great job of creating other avenues, other private tournaments, for ourselves to continue the sense of community that Wil helped to start back in 2005. So we will persist, at least until those pesky UIGEA regulations come out and potentially put a damper on all of our online pokering activities, but otherwise our ghey little group will continue to have plenty of opportunities to get together and test our poker mettle against the donkiest best of the best our group has to offer. But it it likely that none of that would have ever happened without Wil and the weekly WWdN tournaments on that old poker site called pokerstars. So thanks for the memories, Wil, and to repeat what I said last night after my pocket pair was beat by a donkey calling my allin raise with his KJ for the second time at the final table (how fitting for the last WWdN, btw), any time you want in on a Monday night MATH tournament on the real best poker site there is, you know where to find it, and if you hit me up a bit ahead of time it would be my distinct pleasure to buy you in myself as a small token of my appreciation for everything you've done for poker blogging, and for all the fun and entertainment you have helped provide me in making Tuesday night something I have really looked forward to for the past couple of years.

OK guys I'm outtie. Next time you hear from me, I will be in Sin City. I definitely plan to get up some regular updates on my WSOP run(s) over the weekend, so check back here often and hopefully I'll have lots of good news to report for you all. Thanks for reading, don't forget to play the Mookie tonight at 10pm ET, and I look forward to a super fun weekend that will live on in my memory starting tonight.

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11 Comments:

Blogger Astin said...

Looking forward to meeting you Hoy. Here's hoping it won't be until Saturday night when you're flush with WSOP cash.

And kudos on the final table last night. Remember, KJ is gold. I think it falls right behind AJ and The Hammer.

11:58 PM  
Blogger StB said...

Nice finish! I donked my way out with everyone's favorite, A J.

12:06 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

StB, you lost with AJ? How could you ever lose with AJ?

12:09 AM  
Blogger Alan said...

In reading the posts of all the people who are going, I am kicking myself for not signing up. I know you will but have fun in Vegas and more importantly, GOOD LUCK!!!!

12:26 AM  
Blogger smokkee said...

we get in Friday afternoon and plan to head straight to the Rio after checking in.

we'll look for you, Don, Weak and the rest of the donkeyiest card slingin' crew there.

12:28 AM  
Blogger Pokerwolf said...

FYI, today was the day that the Allies invaded Normandy during WWII, so your post title is accurate in more ways than one.

Have an awesome time in Vegas, bro!

12:31 AM  
Blogger Chad Carpenter (Yahoo IM: carchd) said...

Donkey..... Best of luck, you are going to need tons of it. Poker is like the saying your grandma probably told you when you were younger, "don't chase waterfalls"!

2:45 AM  
Blogger Astin said...

alan - it's not too late! Book a last minute flight out and crash with someone :). Don't even ask, just get wasted and follow 'em home.

Just don't follow me, my second bed will be used exclusively for holding the monumental pile of cash I intend to win.

3:15 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

While it certainly won't be the same, Wil has asked me to continue the WWdN tourneys in a slightly different form. It sounds like a lot of folks are still going to play, so it'd be great to see you stop by. The site for the tourney is at monkeytourney.com.
The site is basic right now, but should be fully underway soon.

4:49 AM  
Blogger Irongirl01 said...

I cant wait to meet the man behind the curtains..The wizard of hoy!!

Oh yeah I have some news myself about a big tourney ill be playing starting sunday..

IG

6:03 AM  
Blogger River_Rat said...

As a regular reader I wish you good luck in the WSOP events. I will be out there at the end of June so wont have a chance to see you in action.

Ryver_Rat (aka Darrenb2 on FT)

7:28 AM  

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