Monday, October 09, 2017

Short Trip Report

I was in Maryland last week helping cover a World Poker Tour event, the WPT Maryland Live! one in Hanover (near Baltimore).

In contrast to most trips I only had to take a short flight up from Charlotte for this one. Indeed, the flight took less time than did my drive from the farm to the airport. Was great fun reuniting with some of the WPT crew with whom I’ve worked in the past, and I very much enjoyed making some new friends in Brittany Paige and Matt Clark alongside whom I worked and reported.

Also got to reunite with and meet several players, too, as will happen. Andrew Brokos (of the Thinking Poker Podcast) went out just shy of the final 30, and Ari Engel a little after that, and it was nice to chat with each of them again. The friendly and gregarious Kenny Nguyen made it to eighth and kept us all entertained the entire way.

I additionally got a chance to meet the winner Art Papazyan, who in fact was claiming his second WPT title in about five weeks after having won the WPT Legends of Poker in late August where he outlasted Phil Hellmuth heads-up. (The photo above is from the last stages of the tournament, just before Papazyan won.)

Papazyan had some funny stories about playing against Hellmuth, and while he insisted he isn’t a “tournament pro” (being more of a cash game guy), the two victories in close succession probably ensures the California player will be participating in a few more tournaments going forward. They definitely ensure he has a lock on the WPT Player of the Year for this, the tour’s 16th season.

There were five days of poker, all but the last one quite long. Following the second one I was up into the wee hours handling some administrative stuff when I saw the first tweets regarding the shooting in Las Vegas. I clicked through a link one on of them to hear the chatter on the police scanner sharing reports of multiple shooters at several different casinos.

By the time I went to sleep a couple of hours later, there was still a lot of confusion on the scanner, on Twitter, and on cable news (which I’d turned on) about what had happened. Or was still happening (no one was sure). The toll of the violence perpetrated by what turned out to be a single individual wasn’t known yet, either. That didn’t come until Monday.

I got back to Las Vegas last summer for the WSOP Main Event, my first visit there in four years.

I’d never want to live in Vegas permanently. In fact, the 16 consecutive nights I spent at the Rio in July probably represents a maximum possible stay for me at this point in my life. That says more about me than about Vegas. I’m always going to be more small town (or small farm) than big city, regardless of local legislative predilections regarding card games and such.

But I’ve spent enough time in Las Vegas over the years to have developed a meaningful connection to the place and to many people who do live there, a connection that compounded the heartache caused by yet another senseless act of violence.

Can’t say I have anything especially profound to add right now to the discussion about what happened or even to larger conversations regarding gun violence in the United States. Some (not all) lawmakers are saying the usual things about future action, but none of it is very assuring. Nor does it seem likely that even this horror will move those who can perhaps do something to help lessen the likelihood of future acts of violence to do so. Like some others I’ve been thinking a little about the shooter’s background as a gambler and as a result unavoidably considering connections as part of an impracticable attempt at explaining something that resists rational explanation.

But that’s mostly just the intellect vainly trying to distract the emotions.

Back home now for a while until the next trip. Glad to be here helping take care of everybody.

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