Friday, June 24, 2005

The Edge of the Knife: Day Three, Part II

Day One, Part I
Day One, Part II
Day One, Part III
Day One, Part IV

Day Two, Part I
Day Two, Part II
Day Two, Part III

Day Three, Part I

Even though I was in a room filled to the brim with other drunken degenerates, I was still going to be mortally embarrassed if I couldn’t find my seating card.

“Say, who’s that dude standing there?”

“That’s Human Head. He’s waiting until everyone sits down so he can see where he is supposed to sit because he lost his seat assignment card.”

“What a donkey. If he can’t keep track of a little card, how in the heck did he even find his way out of bed?

…and so on and so forth. To my great relief, I found it in the cellophane of my cigarette pack. I walk around without my smokes like I walk around without my cock, which is to say, NEVER. It was on this logic that I stashed my card with the pack; I forgot to take into account the cognac and the fact that I am at times a frightfully absent-minded individual.

Let’s set the table (in patented Dr. Pauly format)….

Seat 1: Spaceman---Back from a brief blogging hiatus and ready to kick some ass at the table. A master with The Hammer.

Seat 2: Derek—Formidable brother of the hard-working Doctor

Seat 3: Lil’ Otis---Formidable brother of the hard-working Otis, who consequently looks just like Otis.

Seat 4: BG---Esteemed author and thoroughbred obsessive

Seat 5: Drizz---If you don’t know who Drizz is, you need to improve your blog selection.

Seat 6: Scott---EasyCure’s Friend, did I get the name right?

Seat 7: JohnnyHarp---Sunuvabitch and all-around nemesis of the Human Head for the next two hours.

Seat 8: Helixx---Music lover, longtime blogger, and dirty liar who claims the age of 38 or something. Next WPBT get together I’m slipping a casino guard a fiver to check his ID.

Seat 9: EvaCanHang---Al’s better half who is everything one comes to expect from a CantHang and more. Has been known to lead female bloggers and wives of bloggers away from the straight and narrow.

Seat 10: Yours Truly---Looking around for VSOP #5 and vigorously promoting the image of “too drunk to calculate pot odds”.

?:?? AM---Shitty cocktail waitress finally brings VSOP #5 as play begins. My watch is now nothing but a shiny silver thing strapped to my wrist as I lose the will to give a shit about the time. All motivation to take notes is out the window at this point.

After a couple of hands a cheer rises and finds its way to my ears as PokerGeek is the first in the tournament to drop The Hammer. Pretty ballsy considering Gigli was still hanging over everyone’s head. Our table was tight tight tight. For the longest time, no one was knocked out and at our table most hands weren’t going past the flop. Suddenly (I believe on Level 2), PokerNerd got bounced and saddled with the odious Gigli DVD. Playing the hammer, he went with style and grace.

?:?? AM---I have a lock on the waitress and she finally brings VSOP #6. At this point it’s either keep an eye on the waitress or on my table. I chose the waitress since I was fixated on the perceived injustice that my glass was becoming empty before the next round arrived.

After finally regaining focus I knocked a short-stacked Scott out with my AQs vs. 99 (I think) and bought myself a little time with the rapidly escalating blinds. Not too long after that, though, I begin to notice that my stack is again beginning to dwindle and it’s not readily apparent why. Then the flash of insight that would have been obvious had I not been so intent on getting drinks, arrived. That sneaky bastard JohnnyHarp was raising and betting like a maniac and stealing everything! I immediately made him my nemesis and determined that I would play back at him, but by then I was too late. My stack was for shit and he had managed to amass a very respectable amount, enough so that he could call with a lot of holdings if I decide to play back at him, which relegated me to needing good cards before I could make such a move. I took down a couple sets of blinds after that, but unfortunately never in a position to come over the top of him for something more substantial.

?:?? AM---I think the break happened here, but I can’t be sure. I do know that VSOP #7 happened, though. I finally got to meet Hella Shelly who I had been keeping an eye out for the entire time, and needless to say, the break was waay too short; I desperately wanted to keep talking. Perhaps the next event can take on a more social format, more of an all day event or something. Longer breaks, deeper stacks, and blinds that escalate more slowly. A guy can dream, right?

Best Laydown: Helixx laying down AA to EvaCanHang who turned a frush with K-10 heads-up. It left him brutally short-stacked, but had he gone in he would have been bounced even earlier.

After his untimely exit, there was table balancing and Felicia took his place. Fuckin’ Great. Yet another tough player to deal with and I have the Iggy of chipstacks, short short short. Thankfully she was short-stacked as well which made me feel a bit better.

[Lost a little time here]

After a flurry of busts all around the room I was moved to Seat 1 at a table where I knew about 3 people. CJ sat on my left with his giant stack and I had EvaCanHang and Hella Shelly across from me. My stack at this point had been ravaged by a bit of the ole’ escalating blind ultra-violence and I was going to have to push soon.

JoeSpeaker hung out behind me to provide some support as I folded AJo to a raise and a re-raise. I hated doing that, but I would have lost the hand, and besides, AJ is his hand; it holds no special mojo for me.

[Crap cards, fold. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat]

Finally in a BB that left me horrifically short, EvaCanHang pushed and I called with a 74d, figuring that if my chips had to go to someone they should go to another short-stack and not add to the big boys. Really though, I was hoping to pull off a giant suckout. Completely dominated against her 77, the flop brought me some hope with 2 diamonds. The turn brought me an OESD, but the cruel and unfeeling river decided I was unworthy to continue playing and sent me back to the bar in 21st place.

Boo-fucking-Hoo. That’s what I told myself after an ever-so-brief flash of self pity. I lasted longer than I ever thought I would, and while winning is important and always nice, it wasn’t the main intent of this event. The main intent (at least in my case) was to get drunk and play cards with some new friends. That mission was an unbridled success all before midday. That’s right, it’s not even noon yet.

Who’s up for a drink?

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

A Toast

The day which we fear as our last is but the birthday of eternity.
---Lucius Annaeus Seneca

For Charlie and Spaceman, raise ‘em up.

Battle Hardened

Everything he has done thus far has led to this. He’s spent many years honing his craft. He’s been in Hammer training for God knows how long. The Hilton Sisters have mistreated him for many days past, and the love of his life has been snatched by scary cult, yet he keeps on, head held high. He has spent the last 16 days war reporting in the trenches while soaking up all of the knowledge and vibes he can from the greats.

Today he enters the battle on the big stage.

Don’t be surprised when Pauly pulls out something huge. I believe he just may be the first WPBT Medal of Honor recipient.

(We have those, right?)

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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…]

Monday, June 20, 2005

The Calm Before the Storming: Day Two, Part III

The Excalibur can be a strange place. It exists on that particular level in the pantheon of Vegas casinos where it’s not ghetto, but it’s not necessarily nice either. However, the completely vanilla flavor of its theme and surroundings does have one bright spot, the poker room.

It doesn’t shine because of its physical surroundings, no sir. The carpet is kind of dirty and on the whole it looks a bit worn. It’s also a bit of an unorganized madhouse since all they have is a guy with a clipboard and a mic that has a hard time coping when the madhouse gets in full swing. I hope you like your table, because getting an efficient table change can be difficult.

If you have never been, you might ask yourself why in the hell someone would ever go there; I know that I asked myself that very question on the way.

You can smell it long before you even find the room itself; in fact you don’t even need signs. Use your nose and follow the fish scent all the way there. If you’ve ever wondered who is behind those avatars at the virtual micro-limit tables, you don’t really have to look much further. The room was packed with a small crowd waiting, and I wondered for just a second if I was even going to get on a table. That feeling quickly dissipated when I spied Iggy, who was sitting on the customary pile of phone books behind a giant pile of chips which you could tell was making everyone at the table pretty unhappy. People don’t like having their chips taken, but they like it even less when it’s a dwarf that does the taking.

I spied BadBlood and Otis sitting at a $4/8 table and stopped by to offer my condolences to Otis for busting out so close to the money. After speaking briefly, I spied someone I hadn’t met yet, PokerGeek. Turns out he’d been there all day long and had one hell of a chip tower. You could tell he was tired, but it was a happy tired that only comes from steadily raking in pots for many hours. I tried looking for others that I had yet to meet, like Shelly, but the room was quite packed and it was hard to pick people out, so with that I decided to follow Mrs. Head over to the Let it Ride tables for a bit before we gave the low-limit donkfest a go.

Per usual, Mrs. Head got a full house about 20 minutes after sitting down at the table. It never ceases to amaze me just how in the hell she scores a full house or better each and every time she plays Let it Ride, but dammit she does. I hung back and sucked down cokes and things continued to go well until they brought in the black widow dealer to cool things down. I wish I knew why this happened, because logically it shouldn’t, but sure enough the cards turned and the fun that was being had at the table quickly dried up signaling that it was time to hit the poker tables.

Mrs. Head wanted to play a bit more, so I went back and got my name on the list for a $2-6 Spread Limit game, and after a small wait of about 10 minutes they decided to start up a new game. I grabbed $120 in chips and sat down eagerly as everyone made their way to the table in the back corner. I tried to heed everyone’s advice about trying to look ignorant and blend in, so when one tattooed NASCAR guy asked me what I was in Vegas for and what I did, I replied that I was a writer currently employed to pen for a prison rag called ‘Stuffed Cornhole’. He looked at me as though he couldn’t quite fathom what I was talking about and I was only able to hold a straight face for about 20 seconds. It’s hard for me to continue outlandish lies when I’m drunk, so I quickly caved and admitted that I was a charter pilot who was simply messing around while waiting for my clients to leave in a couple of days **wink wink**. Mrs. Head finally walked up and was wondering which game she should buy into. One of the guys didn’t show for the table we started, so they let her have the seat right next to me. FINALLY, we got a dealer and the game began. I took a deep breath and channeled my SSHE lessons, and made sure one last time that Mrs. Head realized that her drawing and speculative hand value went way up on a table like this.

I wasn’t counting on making a large profit since I was well into a nice drunk. I also kept getting up to chat with other bloggers scattered throughout the room and to check out the situation when “HAMMER!” cries filled the room, which was often. It never ceases to amaze me how many people buy in short, even at these incredibly low limits. I felt my $120 was a bit short and was prepared to buy more, but these people made me feel like Daddy Warbucks with the typical buy-in being $50-80. After folding the first few hands, I knew we had a perfect table; 2 LAG’s. 4 Passives, 2 Rocks, and the Mrs. and I.

One notable LAG was VERY drunk and talking to anyone who would listen about how he was dealing in the WSOP, I guess in some sort of lame effort to intimidate the table. KK was the first good hand I received. Of, course the inevitable Ace flopped, I bet out and got 2 callers, including the LAG dealer. The turn came a blank, so I bet out again, and one caller folded but the LAG raises me. Crap, I figure I’m beaten by the mighty A2 or something and determine to call it down and see. LAG bets the river, I call, and he turns up…..what? Bottom pair. Ummm, yeah, way to put the moves on me there, bud.

The Mrs. and I raked a few more pots and the LAG was still alive after taking down some chips with mediocre holdings when a couple of others tried to bluff him. Silly, silly. Being used to only talking to virtual tables, I nearly opened my mouth to comment on the fact that you should never bluff bad players, but quickly shut that down and tried to start a conversation extolling the virtues of Yahoo! Poker which nobody seemed interested in continuing. A couple of folks were starting to get a bit steamed at the Mrs. and I, and their short buy-ins were now on life support.

Hand of the Night: I had J9s in the big blind with 4 callers and we take a flop which has 2 spades. Someone bets out $2 and the LAG raises to $6 and now I have a decision. I have a good flush draw, but not the nuts. With $18 in the pot, I’m getting 3 to 1 on my draw (not really, I wasn’t figuring rake), and I really want to bust the LAG so I call and the $2 bettor folds so we’re heads up. Turn is a blank, and I call another $6 with 2nd pair (9 on the board). The river brings my spade, and I want the checkraise which the LAG happily walks into with the last of his chips. I look at him and tell him I don’t have the nuts and he confidently slams down 73s and yells “Flush!” Ummm, yeah, good hand but I have a bigger flush and the beautiful pot gets pushed my way. That was the first time I have ever taken someone’s last chips in a live game and goddamn it felt gooooooooood. With a trail of dejected epithets, the drunk LAG dealer left the room to try and impress someone else with WSOP dealing tales.

After a couple more folks lost their chips or left, the game got really rocky, so the Mrs. and I decided to pack it in. Up 2 racks after about 2.5 hours I was experiencing a full dose of poker euphoria. The Bloods were ready to head out as well, so we split a cab with them back downtown. Lemme tell ya, you’d be hard pressed to find folks better than the Bloods, and after seeing pics of the mini’s, the Mrs. and I found ourselves wondering for the second time in as many days if breeding might not be such a bad idea after all. As we walked back to our room I pondered how odd it was that after two short days and meeting some strangers we had gone from ‘Absolutely NOT’ to ‘What the hell, we should at least consider it’ on the subject of kids.

The degenerate lure of The Plaza called to us, but the voice of our exhaustion was stronger, so we headed to our room. As I drifted off to wet dreams involving the Excalibur’s poker room, it didn’t take to much convincing to realize that sleep was indeed the correct decision.

After all, we had a tournament in the morning, and morning was very near….

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