Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Every now and then when your life gets complicated and the weasels start closing in, the only cure is to load up on heinous chemicals and then drive like a bastard from Hollywood to Las Vegas ... with the music at top volume and at least a pint of ether."
Hunter S. Thompson

I'm happy to report I got my luggage back today.

So let's write up a mini report on my journey to Vegas, shall we? Highlights include Heather Graham hitting on me & Malcolm-Jamal Warner asking me how to play pocket jacks with two overcards on the flop. Playing poker with Ray Romano was pretty cool and even Curt Schilling sat for awhile at the table. I told him that gambling makes Baby Jesus cry.

While living in Vegas in my early twenties, I would occasionally go off on some tremendous binges. I had several buddies who reveled in this type of drunken behavior so off we would go. The end result afterwards being me staying in bed for three days drinking alka-seltzer with an ice pack on my groin.

This past trip pales in comparision to those halcyon days but I'm still in full recovery mode. I'm nearly 15 years older and none the wiser, apparently. To be fair, I caught a nasty cold on this trip that wounded me. I don't even have to mention the beer, that's a given.

I suppose it's my cross to bear.

So here's a quick recap of my week in Vegas. I don't have the energy for a proper writeup, my humble apologies.

Monday through Wednesday: I visited some old friends and played a bunch of poker, primarily at The Mirage and The Sahara. The wait for tables at The Bellagio was simply insane so I ended up playing nary a hand there. I broke even at the Mirage playing 10.20, mostly with rocks, but had a blast in the rocking low-limit 4.8 game at the Sahara. I played there for 10 hours on Tuesday evening / Wednesday morning, winning nearly 60 BB by the time I racked up. It was a great time, with plenty of hilarious table banter and drinking.

I have to mention this one old feller who sat to my left at one point. See, I always make a point to try and befriend the player on my left. I don't care about the player on my right, but I DO care about the players on my left, for obvious reasons. Anyway, this guy was perhaps 65 years old, stylishly dressed, decked out in gold jewelry, waxed mustache and huge bushy black eyebrows, creating quite a striking appearance.

Even though I was barely cogent by the time he sat down, I couldn't help but take a closer look at his bling bling. He had a massive saphire pinky ring, with a beautiful cloudy jewel encircled by two ornate golden snakes wrapping around it. His middle finger was a huge golden devil face ring with tiny pearls for eyes, including a strange, disconcerting iris.

So after some small talk, I asked if he was, in fact, Gandalf, while referencing his saphire pinky ring.

He gave me a look and laughed hard and explained that he was a custom jeweler who specialized in Mephistopheles (The devil in the Faust legend to whom Faust sold his soul.)

Oh the humanity.

This led to some fascinating table chat, to say the least. I won't bore you with the details, but rest assured, I immediately brought up the presidential election because I am a Bad Person. But more importantly, per the game play - very, very loose preflop and very very passive post flop. Fat and juicy, and I didn't get drawn out on very often.

The table broke around 5am. I still don't remember going back to my hotel.

I slept all day Wednesday in preparation of meeting my main man, Hank, at the bar at midnight. He actually arrived earlier and although we had intentions of attacking the poker tables, we basically hunkered down at the bar and got hammered instead. Good times.

Hrm, I don't remember much of Thursday. Hank had a print out of various Vegas poker tournaments and we decide to hit the Luxor 8.00 pm tourney. We buyin and decide to play some ring games beforehand. The biggest limit they spread was 4.8 with an odd blind structure and half kill, to boot. I won a bit and Hank lost a bit. We ultimately discover that the structure for the tourney is an utter joke and ask for our money back, which they thankfully do. A new atrocious female dealer slows our table down to about a hand every ten minutes so we decide to head over to the Mirage.

Couple notes here: this is where I first began feeling ill. It didn't hinder my drinking, mind you, but I was really starting to feel like crap.

More importantly, Hank bumped into Rafe Furst of Tiltboys fame. Rafe somehow recognized Hank from meeting him at the WSOP and invited him/us to join the celebrity poker TV show as VIP's, complete with an after-show party. Too damn cool!

So anyway, Hank & I managed to sit 10.20 at the same table, which was one of the most awful tables I've ever played at. Not one joke or smiling face and almost zero table talk. Ugh. The only mitigating factor was Clonie Gowen sitting at the table right next us and in my direct line of sight. Hubba hubba.

Anyway, we played here for several hours. No memorable hands except for Hank kicking my ass on a boat over boat. Overall, I think he may have won or broke even whereas I ended up losing 12BB's. No harm, no foul.

We head back to the hotel around 1am to meet up with Hank's beautiful Swedish wife, MrsHDouble, and also his good friend, Ben Affleck's younger brother, Casey Affleck. I truly enjoy hanging with both of these fine, bright folks and we had a great time in the bar, before calling it an evening. A hoist of the Guinness for Casey hanging out that evening with me.

Friday and Saturday are kind of a blur. I was sick, drinking heavily and on meds.

Anyway, let's tackle friday evening. Another of Hank's buddies, Bourbon, hooks up with us and we all head out to The Palms, for the taping of Celebrity Poker. Because I signed a waiver, I technically can't write anything about this, but suffice to say, it was some horrific poker, most especially from the hunky kid on Desperate Housewives. Sidenote: Dave Foley is one funny mutherfucker.

Prolly the highlight of the show for me, outside of sitting 20 feet away from Heather Fucking Graham, is having Andy Bloch sit in front of me and getting up the nerve to introduce myself. He immediately asks why I'm not drinking a Guinness to which I have no good answer. I hate being a stammering fanboy, damnit. For the record, Andy was an excellent heckler of the celebrity players.

Eventually, the demands of participating in a TV audience (incessant forced applause) drive us out of the show and we retire to (where else) the bar for drinks. Here we witness the Pacers-Pistons fan brawl in a truly collective group moment.

I hope Hank writes up this evening because quite frankly, I'm running out of steam here. I'll have to write up my blowoff of Heather Graham in a later post. We also end up blowing off the VIP party after some confusion with the list and shoe requirements.

We head to Terrible's, an off-strip casino, and the place of Hank, Casey, and my insane drunken evening at this past WSOP. We head straight to the craps table and the stickman, Robinson, takes a look at me and immediately says, "Long time no see." Geezus, do you think we made an impression last time?

Whoops, I forgot to mention about Ben Affleck's younger brother, Casey, getting OWNED at the blackjack and craps table and basically going bust. He was down to his last ten gamblooing dollars. I had $20 or so dollars in chips left and handed them to him and told him to get hot at the roulette wheel, his specialty. Which he did in an amazing run, taking that $30 odd dollars all the way up to over $300. Incredible and all due to his freshly autographed (Curt Schilling) Boston hat.

Also, MrsHDouble continued her crushing ways on the slot machines. I think she made $300-$400 this evening. I had far more fun bullshitting with her than I did sitting blackjack or playing craps.

We end up leaving around 2am and head to our home bar. Everyone heads to bed, leaving me sad but Halleluiah! Bourbon decides to hang with me and drink, drink, drink. Woohooo! I had a great time bullshitting with this fine young man, covering everything from poker to politics to programming. We finally staggered off to bed when Saturday's college football games came on TV the next morning.

So it turns out the Boys want to play in a nolimit tournament on our last evening. We head on over to the Sahara for the $60 tourney. 75 players entered. I was experiencing very low energy levels so I immediately started drinking heavily. I continually offered to buy my tablemates shots, but not one single player took me up on it. Egads.

Early on, I get caught stealing on an allin move with Q8o and get called in two places. Somehow I win the hand and start building a midsize stack. All three of us guys now hit that point in the tourney when you have an avg size stack but the blinds dictate you start pushing. And you gotta get lucky.

Hoo boy, did I get lucky. Twice I was out of my chair, preparing to leave, only to hit some miracle cards.

I made the final table with a healthy stack, perhaps third or fourth biggest. The chip leader quite possibly had more chips than everyone else at the table combined. He muscled very well and basically played any two, slowly picking off player after player. I steal, tread water and ultimately finish in third place, picking up $700 for 3 1/2 hours of fun. I think first paid out $2500, damnit.

Anyway, we then rejoined MrsHDouble for a celebratory late dinner and ultimately back to the bar for some blackjack and beer.

beer > blackjack

BTW, my official blackjack nickname is The Cooler.

Later on, I was sad to say goodbye to MrsHDouble and Casey - they were so damn nice to me and never once mentioned my height. I'm lucky to meet such cool people. I finished my trip in perfect style, slumming at the bar and drinking with Hank till 6.30am. Very fitting, and kudos to Hank for hanging with me.

My flight was supposed to leave at 10.30 am but that's an entire other story. Ugh, let's just say that Sunday sucked ass.

And now its Wednesday and Vegas seems like a lifetime ago.

Sorry for the lameness of this post but hopefully Hank will pick up my slack and write up a worthy report.

And thus ends today's exercise in navel-gazing. I'll be back to my regular content once I unpack and catch up on my reading.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Forget living on Tulsa Time - I'm on Vegas time, just now waking up. The wife is a tad irritated now with my upside down sleeping habits.

Here's a press release a buddy emailed me to tide you over until I fully regain my faculties. You can go read the article that our own Hank wrote about the poker blog scene for ALLIN Magazine here.


Placing bet on poker mag All In

A former dot-com dealmaker is now dealing a new hand in publishing.

All In, a bimonthly magazine about the world of poker, will be launched next month by Bhu Srinivasan.

A 28-year-old former director of business development with InfoSpace.com, Srinivasan once hungered to take over the online mag Salon.com.

After publishing two test issues of All In from Seattle, the editor and publisher moved the mag to Manhattan and lined up Time Warner to distribute the premiere to Wal-Mart, Barnes & Noble and other big outlets.

"We expect to be the fastest-growing magazine in 2005," he told the Daily News yesterday, saying he'll guarantee advertisers a circulation of 150,000 by February.

"We believe we'll reach more than 500,000 copies next year, in terms of acquiring new subscriptions," he added.

Srinivasan is counting on the surge in poker-playing shows on TV, starting with the Bravo channel's "Celebrity Poker Showdown," to help boost interest in his mag.

Indeed, "Celebrity Poker" co-host Phil Gordon writes for All In, whose premiere will feature his account of a poker game with quarterback Tom Brady and other New England Patriots. The issue will also carry a 25-page instructional section.

Ben Affleck, who won the California State Poker Championship last summer - a $350,000 prize - was on the cover of the second test issue.

Poker champs Howard Lederer and Chris (Jesus) Ferguson also contribute to the mag.

Srinivasan has talked big before. In 1999, he went from high-flying InfoSpace, which provided infrastructure support to hundreds of Web sites (and enabled him to drive a Jaguar and a BMW), to found and obtain funding for something called ThinkView Inc.

It equipped a bunch of newspapers, magazines and broadcasters to syndicate their content across the Internet before folding in 2001.

That's when Srinivasan boasted about wanting to buy financially challenged Salon.com, ax most of its staff and use the Web site as an ad magnet for showcasing stories from The New Yorker, The Economist and other titles.

Now, as he plans other launches after All In, he said, "I just love the magazine business."

His Web site can be found at allinmagazine.com.

I'm happy to report I survived my seven day trip into the heart of darkness. Two flight delays (they also lost my luggage) made for a brutal return journey, as I fully expected to grab some sleep on the return flight. Didn't happen.

I slept nearly 20 straight hours upon arriving home.

Once my head clears, I'll try to write up a lil Trip Report.

Or perhaps I'll just sum things up with this succinct thought:
I had a blast.

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