Monday, July 04, 2011

2011 WSOP, Day 34: Connections

ConnectionsNot going to spend a lot of time at the laptop this morning, as Vera is here and our time together is limited. I’ll be heading back over to the Rio later this afternoon to join in on the coverage of Event No. 55, the $50,000 Poker Player’s Championship in which 74 of the 128 who entered are still alive.

Had a great day yesterday with Vera. After sleeping in, we met the poker pro and author Tri “SlowHabit” Nguyen for a most enjoyable lunch. I’ve been in contact with Tri for a couple of years now, and we finally had a chance to meet in person yesterday. Some of you may know of him from his CardPlayer articles, his several books (including Let There Be Range, co-authored with Cole South), and/or his Daily Variance website.

Tri is in town to play some cash games, a prelim or two, and the Main Event. He made a deep run in the ME back in 2008, finishing 103rd, and among the several topics we discussed was that experience. Just the other day Julius Goat was telling me about how after nine or ten hours of playing his WSOP event his mind had become totally fried. Tri had done the same thing, only for a whole week, and he, too, experienced a kind of extreme mental challenge to stay focused after so many hands of tourney poker.

Nguyen is a well-regarded poker coach, and I could tell immediately how his students likely appreciate his friendly demeanor and the fact that he’s a good communicator. I got a kick out of Vera and Tri finding a lot of common ground between poker and dressage (Vera’s sport) and the psychological challenges both bring to competitors.

I’ll share one other thing from our lunch, something Tri said about poker that I thought was fairly thought-provoking. He talked about how the game has been very good to him and has improved the lives of many others, including a lot of his friends. But he also noted how the game -- for a variety of reasons -- has not been so good for others. “If I had the power to give poker to the world,” said Tri, “I am not sure if I would or not,” he said, recognizing the various ways the game has affected people’s lives.

We parted with Tri and spent some of the afternoon at the Rio railing the final table of the Ladies event. As was the case last year, there were a lot of folks there supporting the final tablists, who unfortunately had to stand around the secondary feature table as the one on the main stage (in the “mothership”) was undergoing construction in preparation for the Main Event that starts on Thursday.

2011 WSOP, Event No. 53 final tableWhile there we saw Jonathan Epstein -- the “dude” -- get eliminated in ninth, and the rejoicing that followed. That pic to the left is from just after his elimation, with Marsha Wolak, eventual winner and the one who knocked him out, coming over to shake his hand. I didn’t witness too much of the abusive behavior (from railbirds or staff) Michele Lewis correctly calls out in her post from yesterday, but I will say it was a fairly uneasy atmosphere all around as long as Epstein remained alive in the event.

Vera and I ended up over at the MGM for a nice dinner at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant. We had thoughts of either going down to Fremont Street (which Vera has never seen) or even to the Penn & Teller show at the Rio, but ended up just heading back to the home-away-from-home to enjoy a quiet evening together. I work the next two days, then will have one more day off when we’ll get to do more before she leaves on Thursday.

Definitely great to connect with friends and family, which I guess when you put together our lunch with Tri, the Ladies event, and our pleasant evening afterwards, was kind of the theme of yesterday.

Off to lunch and more quality time with Vera now before returning to the Rio. If you aren’t out watching fireworks, grilling hot dogs, or making your own connections with your favorite people, check over at PokerNews’ live reporting to follow the coverage today.

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