We ended up chatting for 10-15 minutes or so about Beyond the Table (the weekly podcast he co-hosts with Dan Michalski and Karridy Askenasy), Hard-Boiled Poker, what I’d been up to thus far in Vegas, and my subsequent plans for the week. I eagerly (and vainly) reported to Tom my successful day of 2/4 limit at the MGM. Might appear hopelessly incongruous to boast about winning a hundred clams to someone in the process of qualifying for a $25,000 buy-in event. But if you’ve ever heard Beyond the Table -- or read Tom’s book, Oops! I Won Too Much Money -- you’d know that Tom, like many successful pros, understands well how the significance of dollar amounts is all relative.
Tom is probably best known for his final table appearance at the WPT World Poker Challenge in Reno in 2006 where he placed third. (Here’s his Hendon Mob database entry.) He’s also made a couple of WSOP final tables -- the $3,000 pot limit hold ‘em event in 2002, and the $1,500 limit hold ‘em shootout last year. His book, subtitled “Winning Wisdom from the Boardroom to the Poker Table,” is not a conventional poker strategy text, but rather a series of short, highly-readable essays that impart valuable advice to poker players and others. Certain themes -- honesty, personal integrity, dealing fairly and openly with others, the benefits of hard work, knowing oneself -- emerge over the course of the book. I mentioned to Tom how I’d read it a few months ago, then gave it to Vera (who doesn’t play poker) who dog-eared certain chapters she thought I could stand to read again.
Every couple of minutes, Tom would move back to the table whenever another hand was dealt. Meanwhile I spot Shannon Elizabeth at a nearby table. Then, over to the left, I see Men “The Master” Nguyen stirring a glass of cream-laden coffee, head buried in a copy of CardPlayer. I scan the room for other big names, but am distracted when I notice Tom is not folding his hand.
I lean forward to see a ragged flop and the player to Tom’s left putting out a modest-sized bet. Tom looks at his cards again, then promptly pushes a larger stack of chips to the center to raise. As the initial bettor contemplates his decision, I’m stricken with apprehension that Tom might get involved in a big pot here -- perhaps even get busted. After a few moments, though, the player folds and Tom scoops the chips. He steps over and covering his mouth whispers “I had queen-four.” Not a hand that connected meaningfully with that board, I’m thinking. Nice.
For those of us who don’t follow every stop of the circuit, it is kind of incredible to witness how simple it is for poker fans to get close to their favorite players at these events. In his post on Monday, Dr. Pauly (reporting on the WPT Championship) describes the crush of fans snapping photos outside the Fontana Room, lamenting that the “scene has become all too common at poker tournaments.” Never really witnessed anything similarly out-of-hand when I was there, although I can certainly understand how such easy access to players could allow such scenes to develop -- and how tedious they must be to those who repeatedly must endure them.
During my time there, I tried to steer clear of the players’ business (for the most part), remaining content to watch from afar. Thus did I get a special kick out of Tom’s invitation. (Thanks again, Tom!) I took off shortly after that Q4 hand, moving back outside to reunite with Paul and Rick (see previous post). Tom would go on to qualify to compete against the other 638 players for the almost $4 million title. He made a respectable run in the event, too. He was sitting in 14th position out of the 117 players who made it through Day 2, though would eventually bust out just shy of the money.
Hung out with Paul a bit more. We talked about tourney vs. cash games, the current status of casinos/poker in England, our buds Cell 1919 and Cadmunkey, and whether or not his beloved Leeds United Association Football Club would be able avoid relegation this year. (Either gonna be Leeds or Hull City, correct?)
Around 3 p.m. I decided to run down to the Imperial Palace to play for a couple of hours before meeting up with Vera to see “O.” JasonSpaceman had recommended the Imperial to me as a place where the “competition is donkalicious.” I’d also read Aquaman’s account of his recent Vegas trip and how he had found the 2/4 game at the Imperial “FULL of wonderful fish.”
On entering the Imperial I saw only two tables with players. One was the afternoon tourney, the other the 2/4 game. Every seat was occupied at the 2/4 game, so I put my name on the list. A few minutes later, my seat was ready . . . .
Labels: *on the street