Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Edge of the Knife: Day Three, Part I

There’s nothing quite like a desert morning. The temperature is perfect in the early hours, and while the various degenerates of Las Vegas drift into their fitful slumber there is a sense of peace and renewal. If you remain still for a moment it's funny how you can see and feel the degeneration increase as the day progresses and the temperature continues to rise. Without the restorative power of a desert morning, I wonder sometimes if Las Vegas would have prospered in any other place or simply died of sheer exhaustion.

After some Starbucks fuel we grabbed a taxi and as we rode back to our favorite place I was thankful I had made the decision to sleep for a few hours. I had a big feeling that today was going to need long haul endurance, a feeling that only got stronger as we entered the casino and headed towards the poker room.

It was tournament time.

OK, not exactly tournament time, it was pre-registration time. Mrs. Head and I ponied up our dough and received our seating cards. It goes without saying that I was getting pretty pumped, this being only the second live tournament I’ve ever played in. Hell, I was downright nervous; all of the bloggers would be descending to the Aladdin within a few hours and I was a little bit shaky with the anticipation. In Las Vegas there’s only one cure for that at 9:15 AM….


Aaah, there were the glistening bottles, looking so shiny and pretty, beckoning with their siren song that promised great times and the courage to play bold and daring cards. I made my way around to the dark side of the bar to greet the venerable AlCantHang , and wondered what I should be ordering. Of course, being in Al’s presence I was tempted to go with a SoCo, but for me this is not a morning cocktail. Bloody Mary? Too much like breakfast, I wasn’t hungry. Martini? That’s just an accident waiting to happen. Beer? Nope, not today. This morning called for something special, so I had to ask myself, “Self, if you had an official drink, what would it be?”

Courvoisier VSOP. Potent wang concoction and Official Drink of the Human Head and The Ladies Man. If you ever find yourself needing to rise to an occasion (literally or figuratively) there’s nothing better to give you running start. Mrs. Head requested one, as well, and right then I knew with certainty that desert mornings are truly an excellent thing.

9:25—VSOP #2---Boy, these are going down waaaaaay too easily.

The dark side of the bar may as well have been the dark side of the moon. Upon thinking back, I am amazed at the fact that in all that open space just how much that side of the bar felt like a world apart. Talking with Pauly (who was on his eleventieth Corona) had me off on so many unrelated-to-poker subjects that I nearly forgot we had a tournament to play.

9:40---VSOP #3—Yep, still going down easy, and my game feels strong..

Helixx found a stool next to mine looking a little rough around the edges and related his tale of the previous evening while ordering some coffee. Feeling the flow of the cognac, I consider chiding him about ordering coffee while everyone around him is imbibing liberally, but I think better of it. After all, he spent the whole night partying while I got a nice wholesome pansy-ass 5 hours of sleep. He’d been in the trenches fighting while I was dodging the draft, let the man have his coffee. The bar and tournament areas begin filling up and the meet and greet was in earnest. While considering the numbers of new people I’m about to meet I silently curse my poor name recollection skills and then get into a brief discussion with myself about which is better, recognition of names or faces. The jury is still out on that one.

9:55---VSOP #4---What? The tournament is about to start? I’ve only had three drinks!

Well that 45 minute pre-tourney warm-up sure did go fast. I hope I don’t get seated with any tough players…waitaminute….Shit, that’s right, I’m playing with bloggers…scratch that idea.

No sweat. I can take ‘em on because I’m floating down a river of cognac and good folks.

Now, where’s that seating assignment card I just had?

[To be continued…]