Tuesday, November 28, 2017

In honor of Miami Don: 2010 World Poker Blogger Tournament (WPBT) / Las Vegas Trip Report

Getting ready for the annual WPBT tournament and big blogger gathering in Las Vegas is never easy for me. Two of the absolute worst months of the year for me work-wise are November and December. Non-stop people coming in to see me, non-stop phone calls, non-stop e-mails. I set my internal dial for 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, December 8. If I could make it until then everything would be okay. I almost cruised to the finish line. But … at 3:00p.m., while attempting to sneak back to the office after a meeting, I was asked a question by an administrator: “How would you like to be a ‘shepherd’?” This was a request to be involved in a project I detest. I slithered back to my office without giving an answer. Two hours to go. Then the phone rang. “Can you take this call? This girl blah blah blah …” So instead of cruising through the last two hours, I had to work like all hell to not have to spend too much time after hours . I got home late and attended to things that needed to get done before I left. By the time I was ready to pack (no – I am not one of those people who gets ready a week ahead of time), I was too exhausted to do so. I hoped I would have enough time in the morning to pack and get on the road on time.

Day 1
My youngest daughter was sick, so I actually bought some extra time since I did not have to drive her to school. I still had to pick up my bounty at a store and get cash for the trip. Yes – I am a real last minute guy!

No problems with my two-hour drive to the airport. The plane took off on time, and I was ready for Las Vegas.

Although I had made my reservations last July, my brother decided toward the last minute to come with me. Our flights were arriving in Las Vegas within 45 minutes of each other, so he waited for me to get in before we took a cab to the IP. The plan was to spend three nights at the IP, then two nights at Wynn. My brother was staying one extra night. All free. Thanks Harrah’s and Wynn!

The trip now became a big blur of meeting new friends and talking with old ones. I met Joanada at the Geisha Bar and found that yes, she is the same sweetie that she is on Buddy Dank Radio. Saw a few other bloggers and said a few hellos, but decided to head out for dinner with my brother. Destination: Ellis Island, home of the steak special. For years we used to go to the San Remo for the prime rib special, but now that the San Remo became Hooters, we found a new place for the inaugural Las Vegas dinner. While there, this funny text exchange took place:

Wolfshead: Where R U?
Me: Ellis Island
Wolfshead: Smart ass

I went back to the IP and met Wolfshead, who was playing poker. Now, if you have ever read his blog or chatted with him at a table, you know that his acerbic humor is quite funny. It is the same in person, only better!

I said "hi" to many bloggers and then met NumbBono. Numb and I have had many conversations at the Mookie regarding hockey – my Blackhawks and his Red Wings. Let’s just say he is has not been complimentary about the Hawks. He gave me a big hug, which only goes to show what blogger brotherhood – mixed with alcohol – is all about! I also met Mary and saw her with a nice stack of chips in front of her. This became a familiar sight. I recall this was also when I met BrainMC, maybe, maybe not.

I did get in some $1/2 NL at both the IP and my Las Vegas poker home, Bally’s. A common theme throughout the trip was that there was little good news regarding poker. Poor cards. Bad beats. A few stupid plays. Meh. Not bad for a first day, but not like last year when I hit a Royal Flush my first night and had a mountain of chips in front of me. Ah well …

Day 2
After having breakfast at Harrah’s, I decided to check out the poker room, just in case a blogger or two might be playing there. Who do I see playing in a small tournament? Very Josie! I snuck up behind her and started massaging her neck and shoulders. Could she guess which of her many male admirers it was? I railed her for some time and saw her playing excellent poker. I sat down at a $1/2 NL table and watched her get down to the final four, then three, then two of the small tourney. Unfortunately, she took a few horrendous beats heads up and had to settle for second place. But she played well enough to win.

I spent more time at Bally’s, but was unable to crush the table like I have on previous trips. Very frustrating.

I headed over to MGM Grand for the mixed games in the evening. I was surprised that so many people were there so early. I met and talked with Miami Don for the first time. We had a great sports-oriented conversation while waiting for blogger tables to open up. I actually did quite well at the mixed games and was still showing a profit by the end of the second night. Knowing that my luck would run out and my true donkatude would show, I left my table and hung out at the bar. I then met Buddy Dank for the first time. I had a great time talking with Buddy, Joanada, and Numb. A little later Josie and I had a fun conversation (I don’t think she remembers most of it) about when I made my blog a Josie-free zone for a week or two. Accusations flew from both sides. Josie even asked the bartender, Percy, to chip in. Good times! I also got to meet Yo Soy Veneno, who was nothing like I would have imagined! Alan Penner and I talked some baseball. Waffles was all ready to go in the blogger tournament. Go team Killer B’s!

Other new people I met or talked to the first time included 23Skidoo, xkm1245, VinNayStephane (no, I am not really Tom Brady’s cousin), …

The night ended when Waffles, MiamiDon, VeryJosie, and I shared a cab back to the IP. After a little hanging around, it was time for bed. I was running on fumes and wanted to not be a total wreck at the blogger tournament later that morning.

Day 3
The Saturday of the blogger weekend was one of those days when virtually nothing went right. I planned on sleeping in, only to be awakened by Very Josie, who had some morbid fear that I would miss the tournament. I guess the “no late registration” had her worrying. I hoped to use Rapid Rewards comps to eat in one of my regular places, Bally’s Sidewalk Café, but the long line at the entrance meant that my brother and I had to settle for someplace quicker. After downing a sub for breakfast/lunch, I registered for the tournament at Aria, only to find out that Josie and I were at the same table. Not good to have teammates playing against each other that early on.

The table was an interesting mixture of bloggers and a few others I didn’t know or can’t remember. On Josie’s right was Full Tilt Poker from the Rail’s Dave McCarthy. He was very aggressive, especially once he had chips, and ruled our table. Poker Grump was on my right – certainly much better than having him on my left. Blocked mostly from my sight was Absinthe, I think. Later on other notables such as OtisIggy, and NumbBono were moved to the table.

Early on Josie and I heard the bad news – our other teammate, Waffles, went out early set over set. No team challenge money for us. Hmm … should I have ditched my team and grabbed the spot on Team Roach instead?

Not much to say about the tournament. I misplayed one hand, played others decently, but got nothing higher than 10-10. After Bad Blood got moved to our table, I finally got a semblance of a hand while short stacked – A-10diamonds. I immediately pushed and thought I was going to grab the blinds and antes until Bad Blood called with A-J. And that was all she wrote. Out in something like 51st place. Meh.

Josie and I walked back toward the middle of the strip and I headed to my favorite room, Bally’s. Although I usually use the Bally’s poker room as my private ATM, this trip I had my lunch handed to me. Crap cards. Couldn’t catch a thing. Got rivered and bad beat more than a few times. Probably my worst day ever at Bally’s.

Finally decided to give up on Bally’s and headed to the IP. Persuaded Josie to get out of bed and planned to get something to eat or drink. Ran into Bayne and invited him to come along.

We ended up getting some pizza at Flamingo. Had a great conversation about family stuff and beastiality – you know – the usual! I saw that it was past midnight and, figuring my luck would change, offered to flip Bayne for the meal. New day, new winnah! Unfortunately, the streak would stop rather abruptly at the IP poker room.

DrChako and The Wife vacated a couple of spots at a $1/2 NL table that featured some other bloggers, so I grabbed a seat. Someone button straddled and I raised with J-J. There were no callers and then an early limper said “all in.” It looked like he only had about $60 behind, so I called. He tabled A-K, and you know what happened next. At least it was on the flop. Unfortunately, he had a lot more behind than I thought, so I lost an expensive flip. So much for the luck changing.

The guy to my right was a piece of work. The Wife wrote about him in her recaps. ADHD, speed freak, who knows – but he couldn’t stay seated and didn’t quit talking. He seemed to be a little sweet on Mary! Anyway, he had a decent stack of chips in front of him. He then told me that he just learned how to play poker by watching a video in his room. Yeah. I played along, and then I guess he felt guilty. He told me that no, he wasn’t new at the game, and thought he’d tell the truth since I looked like a nice guy. I channeled Dr. Pauly and said, “No, I didn’t believe you. Do I look stupid? I have a PhD in Astrophysics. “ I continued on “Yep – nothing better than watching a rocket blasting off from Cape …” That seemed to actually shut him up. Ha ha – me – the guy who never even took a science course in college due to CLEP credit!

It was clear that I was going nowhere fast so I cashed out and went to bed. I hoped to make it on time for the first football games in the morning.

Day 4
On Sunday I got to Lagasse’s Stadium a little bit later than planned. I wasn’t too interested in any of the early games, however. The Bears vs. the Cheatriots – that was the big game at 1pm. With Bears hat and Bears shirt, I confidently ordered a sandwich and was getting ready for the game. I made a bet with Stephane, uber-Patriots fan and Tom Brady fan. If the Cheatriots were to win, she would claim the Chicago Bears fight song (Bear down Chicago Bears …) for one year and substitute her own lyrics. If the Bears won, she would post that Tom Brady wears women’s underwear under his football uniform on all her blogs. I thought it was a fair deal. Unfortunately, the Cheatriots thoroughly kicked the Bears’ asses right from the start. It was painful to watch.

Had some great conversations that afternoon. I listened to Wolfshead piss and moan about stuff, including his nephew’s inability to get him some Ethyl M chocolates. Shit Wolf – give me the delivery charge you gave him and I’ll deliver any time of the day or night!

I saw Yestbay1’s wife standing by herself, so I chatted her up a bit. So Dave, if she thought some strange guy was hitting on her, it was me! Talked a little sports betting with Dr. Pauly. It is always great to talk with the Dr. One of these days I’ll get off my butt and write a review of Lost Vegas. Got condolences on the game from SoxLover.

I, of course, had to get au pair advice from Dr. Chacko and The Wife. If you have never read the comments in the Wife’s post about au pairs, do so for a good chuckle. The Wife and I found out that we are amazingly similar when it comes to money matters. Probably that early midwest upbringing is to blame.

Big thanks to Al Can’t Hang and Full Tilt Poker for coming through big time on the free food and swag for the football party. It is a great way to complete the weekend before people start to make the transition toward returning home.

Later that night Josie and I talked about life and love while keeping an eye on OhCaptain as he attempted to take down a tournament at IP. After Josie went to bed, I got in the cash game at IP. Funniest moment was when OhCaptain triumphantly came to the table, arms raised in victory, and proclaimed “I’m unstuck.” Uh … next time you do that, check your fly, brotha!

Days 5 and 6
Although my brother had already checked in and spent one night at Wynn, I was too tired to do so late Sunday night. I went to the room Monday morning – ah, so different from the IP! I love the central location and the cheap or free cost of the IP, but I love the atmosphere of Wynn. Great room and great view.

The poker room at Wynn was really dead, so I had lunch with my brother at the Grand Lux Café. We had never eaten there before. My lunch was okay, but certainly nothing to rave about. I decided to play some $1/2 NL at the Venetian. As nice as the poker room is, I seem to always get stuck at tables with d-bags. No surprise that my table included a guy who wouldn’t shut up and his son. The guy went on and on about Las Vegas poker and name dropped several people. Like I gave a shit. I was cruising until a nasty river card cost me a stack of chips. Seeing as how I never have fun playing at Venetian, I left for --where else -- but Bally’s. I gained a little ground and had some fun, but I decided to put poker to bed for the trip. I cashed out and played some slots at Paris. The Amazing Race slot machine was just that – amazing! I was winning and having a blast, but I started dozing off at the machine and decided to call it a night.

Final day in Las Vegas. My brother and I had planned to eat at the Wynn breakfast buffet, but I was not hungry at all. We hung out in the room until it was time for me to head to the airport. An air flight channel on the Wynn television system said that my flight would leave on time. After I checked my luggage at the airport, however, the delay time in my flight was changed three times. I finally took off 2 ½ hours late. I was ready for a really fun flight home when the woman who was to sit next to me started crying. Shit – am I THAT bad? It turns out that she had a terrible day of travel, switching flights and running into all kind of problems. Lucky for her that she sat next to a professional counselor, huh? The flight was uneventful, as was the two-hour plus drive back home. I made it to my house just before midnight.

This was my second WPBT gathering (last year was my first) and I enjoyed it much more than the first. It was great seeing old friends and meeting in person new friends I had played with the past year or two. I was really glad to finally meet the trio of Buddy DankJoanada, and NumbBono. Jo is such a sweetie, Ben was great, and Ian was much friendlier than I would have imagined. I finally met Miami Don and would probably want to close down a bar with him sometime and hear all his stories. Congrats on the WPBT win, Don! I was happy to meet and hang out with Wolfshead, who was just as funny in person as he is on his blog and in chat at the table. I was happy to find that Very Josie is as genuine in person as she is on her blog. And I like her – very much. I’ll still attempt to torture her, though, because that is what friends who are assholes do!

I still have one more post to write about the WPBT weekend – one that looks at things from a different angle. I mean – that is what bloggers, do, right?

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

O.J. Simpson -- A Great Guy and Buddy to Us All, Right?

Early this week, the Twitterverse came alive as former professional football player, former actor and former murderer O.J. Simpson, recently released from a Nevada prison, has been seen in photographs making the rounds with some poker professionals and gambling aficionados. In one photo that stirred some passionate comments on Twitter, poker professional Todd Brunson, on November 5, posted a picture of himself with a smiling O.J. Simpson with the caption "What do these two guys have in common?" In some interesting Twitter stats accurate as of today at 1:00 p.m. Central Time, the post received eight retweets, 65 likes, and 96 comments.

There was certainly some outrage at the photo. Poker blogger Rob from Rob's Vegas and Poker Blog replied to Todd: "They both have horrific judgment and have committed morally reprehensible acts (you, by posing with a double murderer." This elicited the following response from Todd Brunson: "No me for letting an idiot like you follow me." Ummm ... okay. Twitter block #1.

Next Glenn Webber, who describes himself as a recreational poker player, tweeted "You both managed to lose my respect. (You know he killed two people, right?)" Todd's reply: "Then why are u still following me? Here let me help u put." Twitter block #2.

But the fun was just beginning! The Poker Barrister chipped in with "For a guy taking selfies with a murderer, @toddbrunson is a sensitive little twitter-blocking cunt. I mean, if you are going to exercise extremely poor judgment, then just own your own shit." Of course (u see) a response was to follow: "Ya I blocked you cause I wanna see u talk this way to my face. But we both know that will never happen don't we? Scared little coward bitch." Boom - block #3!

And finally (there might have been more, but I'll stop at this one), there was Luke Johnston, self-proclaimed left wing lunatic radical liberal , getting in on the conversation regarding the disposition of the O.J. criminal case: "Found innocent? For fuck's sake, you don't even have a basic understanding of the justice system, do you?" Chalk up block #4.

Even as interesting as these Twitter exchanges were, the profound absurdity of the situation helps gloss over the stark reality of what really happened: O.J. Simpson butchered two people that night. And yes, I realize that O.J. was found not guilty  (as opposed to "innocent") in the criminal trial. However, he was found responsible in the civil trial and was ordered to pay $8.5 million in compensatory damages and an additional $25 million in punitive damages. He has so far skated away with paying almost nothing. I recently read, but am not sure if this is true, that with interest, the amount is now more like $75 million.

But hey -- O.J. is The Juice, right? Football star, movie star, all-around good guy. Aside from the crimes he was convicted of (armed robbery and kidnapping) due to his little "misunderstanding" at Palace Station, this is the reality of what this monster did:
Ex-wife Nicole

Unlucky Ron Goldman

And let's not forget the permanent damage that was done to some of the family:
Ron Goldman's father, Fred, and sister, Kim

Nicole Simpson's sister, Denise

So yeah, I guess it must be okay to laugh and smile with the guy who did this. I mean, he's a celebrity, right? Shit, it was just two murders ...

Author's note: I was pretty much obsessed with the O.J. trial. In fact, my son was born the day of the Ford Bronco chase. I followed both trials every night on television, hung on the word of every guest that Geraldo Rivera had on his program, and read quite a few books on the subject.
Some of the lightning36 OJ reading material

My only hope is that someday O.J. gets his ...

Thanks for reading!