Ended up meeting some friends Wednesday night for dinner at Wolfgang Puck’s Bar & Grill over at the MGM. Had the steamed black mussels in white wine and garlic (excellent), coupla slices of sourdough slathered with Béarnaise (fair), and two pints of Stella Artois (yum, and yum). Still on Eastern time, Vera and I made it an early evening. Got up fairly early on Thursday and Vera took off to watch more dressage at the FEI World Cup. Meanwhile I caught the 10 a.m. shuttle back up to the strip. Had four items on the agenda: to pick up our tickets to “O” for that evening at the theatre in the Bellagio; to visit with my friend from England, Paul (a.k.a., the Microlimit Donkey); to find and say hello to Tom Schneider (of Beyond the Table), who was likely going to be trying satellite his way into the WPT Championship set to begin Saturday; and to play some poker.
I walked back to the Bellagio on the east side of the strip, passing the various souvenir shops along the way. All very touristy (as Dan from Beyond the Table & Pokerati might say). Watched a couple of brothers, probably aged six and eight, laughing like crazy at a plastic doll bent over and blowing bubbles out of his ass. Then I saw a man who was presumably the kids’ father sitting on the other side of the sidewalk, also laughing uncontrollably.
My own grin was just beginning to fade as I reached the Bellagio entrance. I picked up the tickets at the theatre, located just off the main poker room. I had about an hour still before Paul and I had arranged to meet. I lingered over the roulette tables for a while, thinking of Dostoevsky (and how little interest I had in plunking down any chips). I then decided to hike over to the Imperial Palace (only 10-15 minutes away) to scout the poker room there. The Imperial’s poker room, conveniently located just to the right of the entrance, was spreading a 2/4 limit game. They also had a $50 tourney beginning at 2 p.m. which I thought could be a possibility. I decided to return later in the afternoon.
I walked back over to the Bellagio and at noon met Paul on the sidewalk. Even though we’d never met face-to-face (having only previously communicated via our blogs and over email), we recognized each other immediately. My hat probably gave me away, while Paul’s Leeds United jersey served as my clue. We shook hands there before the fountains and walked inside.
As we walked, Paul told me about his week of poker, blackjack, and craps, picking my brain for thoughts about some of the hands he’d played. He also told me about the many pros he’d already seen -- and, in some cases, with whom he’d discussed some of those same hands -- at the Bellagio during the week. He led me over to the Fontana Room, and we saw Steve Dannenmann walking out as we stepped inside.
There we ran into Rick, a new friend of Paul’s who used to deal over at the Starlight. We stepped back outside and ran into Rick’s friend and poker pro Peter “the Poet” Costa. He earned that nickname thanks to his poem “The Big One” commemorating the 2000 WSOP Main Event. The Cyprus-born player has had a long, successful career, including four WSOP final tables (in three different games). We only visited for a short while, but he struck me as a very nice guy. Sort of what you’d expect from the last stanza of “The Big One”:
For after all, it’s just a gameWhile we visited, I snapped this photo of Peter (left) and Paul (right):
So lose your chips, but not your name
And win or lose it with a smile
And do it all with charm and style.
Peter took off and as we started to discuss lunch plans Kenna James strutted past in a red button-up shirt and signature black cowboy hat. He took a spot alone at the end of the long line of registrants to the next satellite. I mentioned to Paul how I’d written a post about James last summer, and he’d even been gracious enough to send me an email about it. Encouraged by Paul, I went over and introduced myself. We chatted for a short while until Kathy Liebert took a place in line behind James. I watched (a little starstruck, I must admit) as the two of them traded $1000 and $5000 chips so each would have the correct change for the satellite. Said hello to Liebert and shook her hand, wished them both well in the satellite, then scampered back to Paul and Rick.
The three of us walked over to Snacks for sandwiches. Paul and I traded stories, alternating between life stuff and poker stuff. Paul’s a thoughtful, super-friendly guy and I’m really glad our trips coincided and we were able to meet. He was among the first ever to comment on Hard-Boiled Poker (coming close to the one-year anniversary here), and I know I’m not the only blogger who has appreciated his feedback over the last twelve months. To give you an idea of Paul’s friendly, outgoing nature, when we ran into Rick, I had assumed he and Paul were old friends -- in fact, they’d only just met earlier in the week. (Go check out Paul’s blog for more about his week, including the tourneys in which he played.)
We finished lunch and moved back over to the main poker room to rail a little more. I was due to meet Tom who had just begun the 1 p.m. satellite and was seated somewhere in the main room. He had told me it was okay to call him even if he were at the table. So I did. Soon I noticed a figure in the back of the room standing with his arm waving while the voice in my ear was asking if I could see him.
“Come on back,” he said. So I did.
Labels: *on the street