Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Shamus in Vegas: Episode 3 -- Food for Thought

Food for thought“Poor Vera. Dinner with five poker bloggers?”

So said the Poker Grump to me as we arranged our outing at the Grand Luxe Café at the Venetian. Would be the two of us, Cardgrrl, F-Train, BWoP, and Vera Valmore. Vera isn’t a poker player, but as I’ve documented here before has a lot of patience with those of us who like to tell poker stories. Of course, thinking back to the Wednesday Poker Discussion Group, I later joked with Vera about how she might not have liked a “hand of the day” that lasted two hours.

Vera knew the Grump, F-Train, and BWoP from last summer, and we were both looking forward to meeting Cardgrrl. Dinner was a lot of fun and really there wasn’t as much poker talk as one might have expected. Vera was quizzed a bit about the World Cup. Cardgrrl talked about her adventures in DC and her “year of risky business.” BWoP shared some about her non-pokery work. Poker Grump also told us a bit of his former life in the “straight world.” And F-Train filled us in on his upcoming trip to San Remo and Monte Carlo.

F-Train also told us about a recent incident where some kids had thrown rocks at he and BWoP’s house, breaking a window. That led to a funny discussion of children. You know, children? Those little people who look like us but aren’t as strong and don’t seem to be quite as smart?

Some of the details of F-Train’s story reminded me of one my earliest memories in which I got caught throwing rocks at passing cars. Hey, I was a little person. Not too bright. And unduly influenced by a neighbor girl named Eva. (Insert obvious scriptural allusion here.) In an uncanny prefiguring of F-Train’s account of what happened when he confronted the rock-throwing kids, I recalled how one driver had stopped to confront me and Eva. When he got out of his vehicle -- “$5,000!” I remember him yelling, which gives you an idea how long ago we’re talking -- Eva had suddenly vanished, scampering back to her house and leaving me to face the big person’s wrath. I suppose Adam was in a slightly tougher spot back in the garden, but little Shamus’ predicament was not to be envied, lemme tell ya.

We called it a night by about 10 p.m. Both Poker Grump and BWoP had books for me (thanks!), and since the meals were so oversized we also had take out to carry, too. So we took several bundles, as well as the memory of a fun time, back to the hotel.

'Middle Limit Hold'em Poker' by Bob Ciaffone and Jim BrierOn Thursday, Vera went back over to the show while I met Al Schoonmaker and Jim Brier for lunch over at the Palms buffet. I’ve already related some about our meeting, so I won’t repeat too much here. It was Dr. Al who had recommended the Wednesday Poker Discussion Group to me before (he regularly attends those meetings), and so we talked a bit about that and its history. We also talked some about the differences between limit and no-limit hold’em, as both Schoonmaker and Brier were essentially limit players up until recently. Most of you are probably familiar with Dr. Al’s books on poker psychology. Brier, too, is a poker author, and once co-wrote with Bob Ciaffone a well-regarded strategy text called Middle Limit Hold’em Poker (2002). In fact, Brier has been credited by several for the whole idea of emphasizing hand samples in poker strategy texts, such as one finds in his book with Ciaffone, the Harrington on Hold’em books, and many other publications.

The three of us also discussed the prospects for computers or “poker bots” to become advanced enough to compete in no-limit hold’em. Brier and I were of the opinion it would be a long time, if ever, for that to come to pass, but Schoonmaker seemed to think a bit more of the possibility. After an hour-and-a-half, we parted in the Palms parking lot, and that’s when I decided to head over to the Gold Coast to see if I could again squeeze in another short session. I did manage to find a game, and so will talk about that tomorrow.

In Memory of Justin Shronk (1981-2009)Before signing off today, though, I have to mention how sad it was to hear yesterday of Justin Shronk’s passing. I met Shronk last summer at the World Series of Poker, and like everyone else found him a funny, friendly, smart dude whose presence added significantly to the poker reporting scene. Others knew him a lot better than I did, so I’ll let you find their thoughts about Shronk on other sites and blogs.

I was at the Bellagio last Saturday as the WPT World Championship was getting started, and I swear I thought I saw Shronk, although I must’ve been mistaken. I have a feeling a lot of people are going to experience similar moments at tour stops over the next few months -- thinking he’s there when he isn’t. ’Cause, well, Shronk belongs there. And it’ll be hard to accept that he won’t be. So my very best to those who were closest to him, especially those over at PokerRoad, where the traveling is going to be a bit tougher for a while.

However, as these stories of my meals in Vegas with poker writers attest, this here “poker community” is a great group with which to be involved. So I know that everyone is going to be there for each other, just like Shronk was always there for them.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you planning on being in Vegas for the entre WSOP again Shamus or did last year almost finish you off?

4/22/2009 3:06 PM  
Blogger BWoP said...

I miss evenings filled with great conversation and over-sized portions of food.

Can't wait to do it again!

4/22/2009 6:39 PM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Yorkie: yes & yes. (Details to come.)

Same here, BWoP.

4/22/2009 6:47 PM  

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