Friday, June 24, 2005

A Little Bit Of This

For some reason I feel like writing but I don't have any particular topic in mind so I'll just do a little free-form and see what happens.

I guess the first thing on my mind is Jason. I only had a couple of conversations with him in Vegas but that was a couple more than I had with most people who attended the gathering for whatever that's worth. Jason seems like a great guy so I know Charlie had to be very special to be considered "best friend". Jason, I am truly sorry for your loss. I've lost a couple people who meant a lot to me so I have some idea what you're going through. All I can offer is this, take things one moment at a time and allow yourself to grieve.

Moving on to the next thought......

I really wish I was going to the NASCAR race at Infineon Raceway this Sunday. I attended once a few years ago, when is was Searspoint Speedway, and had a blast. Even though it's only a couple of hours away, I took a bus. We got a free T-shirt and lunch with the deal plus they let the buses leave the parking lot before the general public so there was no traffic after the race. It's the only race I have ever been to and, even though it was hot and I got a bad sunburn, I had a great time. I took the older of my 3 step-brothers and he had a fun time also. He is an Earnhardt fan (Sr. was still alive) and I was a Jeff Gordon fan at the time so we always have a fun little rivalry. I prefer Tony Stewart now (we have the same temper) but I still cheer for Gordon from time-to-time. Anyway, I just can't afford to go right now which means I'll have to settle for watching it on the big screen TV in the comfort of my Dad's house.

Next subject.....

After Vegas I decided to make a deposit at Poker Stars. I was doing well in the SNG's and had visions of growing a huge bankroll. About I week later I was almost broke so I have been slowly trying to build it back up to where I started by playing low-limit ring games. I forgot how boring limit can be but I think it's the best way to get my bankroll back in shape. I've been playing the $1 MTT's every once in a while to break up the monotony but have yet to cash in any of them.

How about this....

I am nearing the end of one of the best bottles of wine I have ever had (probably why I am so chatty). I'm not an expert by any means but I know what I like and this Charbono from Summers Vinyard's is awesome. I bought it last year while my mom was visiting from Maine. We spent a few day's in Napa/Sonoma and I read something about the vineyard so we went to check it out. It was small, quiet, and the woman working in the tasting room was friendly. We tried a few and I left with a bottle of the Charbono. I spent a little more than I usually do but it was well worth it. Now that it's gone I'll need to plan another trip to the area, otherwise I have to pay to have it shipped to me, and I would rather use this as an excuse to spend a couple days wine tasting.

And lastly....

I've been thinking about what place I have in the poker blogging community. I have decided that I wish to be known as the red-headed step-child of the community (technically I have red hair and I have step-parents but, I digress). Whenever I am involved with some type of "community" whether it's church, hockey, or poker, I never quite feel like I totally belong. So, in an effort to find my "place", I have decided to embrace this aspect of my personality. No longer will I feel left out of anything for any reason other than I am the red-headed step-child of the group. Damn, I think the wine has gotten to me.

Time to open another bottle!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

This One Is For Charlie

I've been trying for the past few days to write something that eloquently covers the emotions I have been feeling since I first heard about Charlie and his phone call from my new favorite poker player, Marcel Luske. Finding the right words has been difficult and reading the ongoing story has only added to that difficulty. I just want everyone involved with Charlie to know that my prayers continue to be with you.

Since I still can't find the words to express myself properly I leave you with the following links (especially for those who may not know what has been going on):

Pauly's story as picked up by Fox Sports - A Guy Named Charlie
The latest update from Jason, best friend to Charlie.

My deepest sympathies go out to Charlie's family and friends. Although I never got the chance to meet Charlie, I don't think I will ever forget the affect he had on a community of poker bloggers and some professional poker players at the WSOP.

Monday, June 20, 2005

The Best Damn WSOP Coverage EVER!

If you're not reading Pauly's WSOP updates then something is seriously wrong with you. He's busting his ass and getting very little sleep to bring this to the masses so the least you could do is show a little support. Here is the link to his site as well as a few other important places for WSOP news.

World Series of Poker Live Blog - A.K.A. Pauly's site

World Series of Poker Photo Gallery - FlipChip's photo's

World Series of Poker News - PokerProf's site

World Series of Poker Tournament Results - Poker Player Newspaper

World Series of Poker Podcast - Lord Admiral Radio

Phil Gordon WSOP Podcast

Now click some links and read!

Sunday, June 19, 2005

I Wish I'd Been There

I got up Saturday after 40 minutes of sleep and crawled to the shower. I felt like I was dead and I was waiting for rigor to set in. How was I going to make it through the "big day"?

We picked up Shelly and headed towards the Aladdin. We were running a few minutes late so Maura dropped us off and went to park the car. Unfortunately we had to walk through the mall before we found the casino and it took a few more minutes to find the poker room. We checked in and got our table assignments. I was at Table 9, Seat 8 which should have been lucky (my on-line poker name is April98) but I felt so bad I didn't care. I had only met two people at my table which, under normal circumstances, would have caused me to be more social but I didn't have the energy to utter more than "hi" or "nice hand".

Seat 1 - CJ
Seat 2 - Mrs. Head
Seat 3 - Poker Nerd, later -EV
Seat 4 - Maudie
Seat 5 - Reader Matt
Seat 6 - ?????
Seat 7 - Shane
Seat 8 - Me
Seat 9 - Steve
Seat 10 - Whiskeytown

I don't remember much about my play. At one point I got Shane to lay down a hand where he might have been ahead. I had Q's and an Ace came on the flop. I think he had an Ace but I wanted that pot and managed to bet enough to get him out of the hand. That was the only significant hand I won and all it did was keep me alive through the break. I finally got knocked out by -EV in 38th place. I gave him my bounty (a shot glass from San Jose) and tried to decide what I wanted to do next. Maura was at the spa and wouldn't be done for awhile so I just hung around to cheer Shelly on. I also tried my best to talk with people but I was only at about 10% functional capacity and couldn't come up with any interesting conversation. This became the theme of the day for me.

After Bill won the tournament, people started to head in different directions. Some went to start the after party early and others went to eat elsewhere. Maura and I decided to find food but we weren't really interested in Mexican. We left the Aladdin and ended up eating at the Harley Davidson cafe. The food perked me up a bit but I knew it wasn't going to last long. By the time we arrived at the after party I had started to hit the wall.

The party was in full swing with bloggers at all levels of intoxication. I ordered a regular Margarita and tried to get into the spirit of the party. Unfortunately I was done. I know I talked to a few people. I remember talking with Iggy for a few minutes. He was trying to get someone to carry him around in a backpack but no one was really interested. I told him I didn't think it was a good idea to have an inebriated blogger stumbling around with him on their back but that didn't stop him from asking. I also remember Poker Prof doing his Marcel Luske impression. I think I laughed but I honestly don't remember. Other then that I don't remember much else. Maura finally came back from the M & M store and I took the opportunity to sneak out of the party realizing I had missed the chance to make some great connections.

In retrospect, I probably should have skipped the tournament and caught up on some sleep but I thought I could fake my way through the day. I spend way too much time wondering what other people think about me, though not nearly as much as when I was in high school, and I spent the rest of my trip wishing things had gone differently. At times it's been hard reading the other trip reports, realizing what I missed out on, and questioning whether it would have been different had people actually gotten to meet the real me instead of the shell of my former self that was available that day. I'm trying not to dwell on it, as it will just drive me crazy, but even now I still find myself thinking about it.

I do want everyone to know that despite what happened I did have a good time (it's hard to have a bad time in Vegas) but on Saturday I had nothing to offer and for that I am sorry.

Oh, one last thing, I want BG and HumanHead to know I still owe you guys a shot. I'm sorry it didn't happen this time around but if you catch me at the next one and I'll definitely pay up.

Friday, June 17, 2005

It Was The Best Of Times And Then It All Went To Hell

When we last left the trip reports Maura and I were at the WSOP and had just met our first bloggers. This chapter picks up a few minutes later after we start heading away from the convention center and on to other things.

We were still with Jason and my twin as we passed the Sao Paulo cafe, home to the worst-buffet ever as I understand it, and spotted more bloggers so we took a detour into the restaurant. I recognized Maudie right away but the other bloggers sitting in the booth were a mystery although one looked slightly familiar. It was then that he introduced himself as Iggy. Even though I couldn't shake the feeling that I had seen this face before, I started to buy what he was selling, hook, line, and sinker. It was about this time that I noticed the amused expressions on the faces around me and the imposter let me off the hook by flashing his press pass. And just like that, I had met the hardest working blogger at the WSOP and he introduced me to his brother Derek. After a few more minutes of chatting, everyone decided to split up. Some wanted to head back to the WSOP to cheer Otis on while others were heading back downtown for some much needed nap time. Maura and I decided to hit the strip.

I don't remember the exact order of everything but I think we parked at Excalibur and ate at their buffet. Then we headed over to the MGM where we hit Television City and watched the pilot for a new comedy that will be on CBS next season. After filling out a survey we were given a bunch of coupons that would turn out to be very handy on Sunday. During this time Shelly had called to let me know she had arrived and we arranged to meet up in time to "storm the castle" together.

It was just about 10pm when Maura and I found the Excalibur poker room. I looked around for a familiar looking face but didn't see any. Either I called Shelly or she called me and it turned out she was there also so I started looking around and found her standing under the poker room sign wearing her Phylers jersey. It was then that I spotted Hank, I had met him at some point, and I introduced Shelly. Hank was nice enough to point out the infamous Iggy who was sitting on his booster seat with a look of Guinness-fueled determination on his face. As the fish at that table soon learned, don't underestimate the power of a dwarf drinking Guinness.

Shortly thereafter, Shelly talked me in to getting on the waiting list so I could play live poker for the first time. We managed to get seated at different tables so I had to figure out what I was doing on my own. I was in the one seat right next to the dealer and I searched the faces for some sign of a blogger. It wasn't until a few hands in that Helixx introduced himself. Poor guy was sitting in between the two worst players at the table but I think he still managed to leave with more chips than he sat down with. I was hoping to be as lucky. I don't remember any specific hands except that the first hand I played was AJ and the last hand I played was AJ. I won them both. Several bloggers also came over to introduce themselves but I was having a hard time concentrating on the game and chatting so I don't really remember much else. I did manage to leave the table with $24.50 more than I sat down with, not bad for my first time.

Finally it came time to go get some sleep. Maura and I figured we could get about 5 hours in and I knew I could function well on that amount. After dropping Shelly off at her hotel we headed off to sleep. At least that was the idea but for me it didn't happen.

I don't know what it is about blogger tournaments and my health but it seems I am always in some sort of distress when tourny time rolls around. What I would have given to have had a migraine. They hurt but I am used to them and can even get some sleep in while I suffer. Unfortunately what happened that night was much, much worse. I started having chest pain and not just some mild discomfort but some serious high level pain. My left arm also started to go numb, as did my right but to a lesser degree, and at one point I was about to wake Maura up and call an ambulance.

This is the point where some of you are going to question my sanity for not going to a hospital and you have every right to do so. Maura actually has a right to kick my ass because she knows all the details of my health issues and she wouldn't have hesitated to call for help had I asked her to. All I can say in my defense is that I am a fucking idiot. I work in a hospital and tell people all the time that it was good for them to come to the ER and have their chest pain checked out. Better to go to the hospital and have a doctor tell you nothing is wrong then to sit at home and die of a heart attack. Of course I didn't follow my own advice and spent a good four and a half hours suffering for it. I was awake when the sun came up and when I did finally fall asleep it wasn't deep and it only lasted about 40 minutes. The alarm went off and it was time to get ready for the tournament. Let me repeat, I am a fucking idiot.

Up next:

I played, I partied, yet I wasn't really there or how I didn't connect with any bloggers because I'm a fucking idiot.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Almost Free

Just a quick note to let you all know that I will be getting back to the trip reports soon. I have finals this week plus some doctor stuff I wanted to get out of the way but I see freedom on the horizon, at least from the school part. Of course I only get a week before summer session starts but I'm not complaining as the end gets closer with each passing month.

As for the health stuff, we may never figure it all out. I had a test for one thing and something unexpected was found. It's not life threatening but it puts the other stuff on the backburner for a bit. The good news is that it may explain the bad night I had in Vegas (I tried to keep it on the down-low but anyone who tried to communicate with me on Saturday may have noticed something was up). I'll explain more fully in the next trip report. Until then.......(again, nothing witty to offer).

Sunday, June 12, 2005

This Is The Walk That Never Ends

Upon arriving at the Rio, Maura and I immediately looked for signs directing us to the WSOP. Although Otis was the only blogger left at this point I wanted to check everything out and see how he was fairing. We found the first sign and headed in the direction of the arrow.

An hour later I thought I saw the end of the trail. Crap, it was only the gift shop! We continued to walk and spied Phil Gordon walking towards us. As he passed by, Maura kicked me to make sure I saw him (okay, she didn't actually kick me but she probably wanted to because we were still walking). As our hike continued I started noticing more and more familiar looking faces. We must be getting close. I saw Greg Raymer and David Williams just before we hit the end of the trail. At last, we had made it to the WSOP!

We went in the first set of doors and I stopped dead in my tracks. Before me was a very large room filled with poker tables and a sea of people. It was like stepping into a dream and a nightmare all at the same time. We saw table 194 and Maura suggested we continue to walk down the hall and try another door since we were looking for table 16.

As we walked I got this feeling that there could be bloggers anywhere so I slowed down and started to look for the few faces I knew. All of a sudden I saw Felicia and Al. My first reaction was to continue walking and pretend I didn't see them. No one knew what I looked like so they wouldn't even know I had chickened out. My curiosity got the better of me and I gathered up my courage. I stopped and said something like "Hey, you guys look familiar". Yeah, I'm a dork. At that moment all conversation ceased and I thought maybe I had a booger hanging out of my nose or something. I immediately introduced myself and Felicia took it upon herself to introduce me to the rest of the group. Besides Al, I met Eva, BG, Joe Speaker, Jason, Bobby Bracelet and, of course, April. (sorry if I missed anyone)

Finally the twins were together, was Vegas ready for us? Better yet, was I ready for Vegas!

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Are We There Yet?

Friday had finally arrived, my bags were packed, and I was counting down the minutes until I got on a plane bound for Vegas. All that was left was picking up Maura and checking in at the airport. If only air travel were so easy!

We arrived at the airport with about an hour before our flight was to leave and went to the self-check desk to hand over our bags. As our boarding passes were printing out I did a double-take. "Boarding time, 12:45pm".
WTF! We were supposed to be leaving at noon so why the hell were we boarding 45 minutes late? We didn't get an answer until we boarded the plane. San Jose airport is building a new runway and evidently they have been delaying flights on a regular basis to piss off tourists flying to Vegas. We didn't get in the air until the moment we were supposed to be arriving in Vegas. I really hoped this wasn't an omen of things to come.

We finally arrive in Vegas and head toward the baggage claim. My suitcase was one of the first off so I went ahead to find Enterprise rent-a-car while Maura continued to wait for her bag. Finding Enterprise was not an easy task as they were hidden behind a stairway or something but I eventually found them. There was no line so I walked up to the clerk and gave him my copy of the reservation along with our big money saving coupon. It was at this point that the sales pitch for an upgrade began. I let him ramble until Maura arrived and we agreed to upgrade for the promise of better air conditioning (it was only $2 more a day). We took the shuttle to the car lot, got our car, and were on the road to downtown before we had a chance to think. This was when we learned the first of many lessons of the weekend. NEVER follow the directions of the guy at Enterprise car rental. He sent us down Tropicana which had a ton of construction and took forever.

Things were looking up once we found the freeway. There was some traffic but not like we're used to in San Jose. We did take a different exit then recommended and drove through a rather scary at night part of the downtown area but soon found our hotel. Lesson number two, when Pauly says slip a twenty to the person at check-in DO IT. I still wonder if we would have gotten a non-smoking room, like I had requested, on the first night instead of the third. Basically the room sucked but we weren't planning to spend that much time there anyway.

It was at this time that I pulled out my cell phone and called up my twin. When she answered I greeted her with this line: "I'd like to speak with the president of the Wil Wheaton/Phil Gordon fan club, please." She laughed and said "I think I know who this is". We made arrangements to meet up at the Rio and Maura and I were off once again.

Coming up:
Meeting my first bloggers.
Storming the castle.
The worst night of my life followed by the WPBT tournament and after party.
Recovery Sunday.
What happens when you don't respect the hammer.
One last poker session followed by the flight home.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

I Almost Forgot!

The WPT tournament on Travel Channel tonight is the Bay 101 Shooting Star event that I was lucky enough to attend last March. Keep an eye on the crowd in the shots from the first couple of days and you just might see me. I was spotted on the news coverage of two different stations so it is possible I could be on the WPT broadcast. Even if you don't see me, it is going to be a great episode.

Here are the links to my reports from the tourny back in March for those who haven't read it or want a refresher:

Round 1, Day 1
Round 1, Day 2
Last day before final table
Random Sunday

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

I'm Back!

I'm tired and have lots of laundry so this will be quick. I will post some sort of trip report when I get the time. I didn't take any notes so I will be relying only on my memory and my memory isn't what it used to be. The next week and a half is going to be busy but I will try to get something up this weekend if not sooner.

Until then I'll be reading the other trip reports and linking them up over on the right for quick reference for my non-poker readers.

UPDATE: Okay, the whole linking to the other trip reports thing isn't working out the way I wanted so I give up. Most of the bloggers listed on the right were in Vegas and most have trip reports posted, or will in the next few days. Feel free to click on over and check them out while I attempt to put together some thoughts and stories of my own.