Thursday, May 27, 2010

Fun and Games

Doyle Brunson Beer Pong Invitational IIICan’t really claim to have ever been much of a drinking game aficionado. Oh, we drank all right. But I can’t recall ever getting too competitive about it. So while I’d been exposed to certain variations of the game known as “beer pong” before, my familiarity with it was admittedly vague.

You’re throwing ping pong balls into cups. You drink if you miss? Or if your opponent hits? Something like that, right?

I’m glad to say today that has all changed. After attending the pre-WSOP Doyle Brunson Beer Pong Invitational III yesterday, I’m in a much better position to appreciate the many nuances of the game, one that like poker (and, well, most everything) cleverly -- fiendishly? -- mixes skill and luck.

And the potential to get hammered.

It was an interesting mix of folks at the Hogs & Heifers Saloon, located downtown on 3rd street (not far from Fremont). That’s the chain on which the film Coyote Ugly was based, so we’re talking about a “biker” bar where you’ll see a lot of Hell’s Angels-types and the lady bartenders hop on the bar to dance from time to time. Lots of smoke and “Ring of Fire” on the jukebox and people getting raucous. Fun stuff.

Dancing on the bar at Hogs & HeifersThrow in a number of poker people -- players and media -- and like I say you get kind of a curious mix. Doyle was there, of course, his sharp-looking pink long sleeve dress shirt contrasting vividly with all of the black being worn in the place. The Godfather of Poker was teamed with Zach “CrazyZachary” Clark (one of the “Brunson 10” pros on Doyle’s site). His son, Todd, was there, too, partnered with Brett “Gank” Jungblut.

Hoyt Corkins was present as well, and he and his partner, Steve “gboro780” Gross, made a formidable team that would eventually eliminate my buds Eric Ramsey and F-Train in the second round. Tiffany Michelle and Lisa Parsons were a team, too. Some might remember Parsons was the next-to-last woman eliminated from the 2008 WSOP Main Event (in 76th), and Michelle caught some flack for being caught on ESPN celebrating a bit at the news of Parsons’ elimination. (Michelle would go on to finish 17th.) Obviously the pair have formed a friendship since, and like everyone else appeared to be having a good time yesterday.

Other teams included Matt “All in at 420” Stout and AlCantHang, Andrew “LuckyChewy” Lichtenberger and Dan Smith, and Erica Schoenberg and Erick Lindgren. Eli Elezra was there, too, as was Chad Brown, whose partner, Vanessa Rousso, couldn't make it and was replaced by PokerNews’ Kristy Arnett. You can see the original bracket here, although there were some last-minute replacements here and there.

Despite Pokerati Dan Michalski’s efforts to rig the brackets in his favor, Tony “Bond18” Dunst and Leo Murphy ended up surviving the 32-team field to win the trophy.

The Godfather of Beer PongDoyle and Zack’s team made it to the quarterfinals. Their opponents had landed a ball in the last remaining of their ten cups, meaning they each had one chance to sink one in a remaining cup on the other end of the table -- a “rebuttal” -- to avoid elimination.

However, Zack absent-mindedly drank the last cup down before they were able to throw -- which means the game is over. Such was the rule shouted multiple times via megaphone before play began.

I did get a chance to chat briefly with Doyle after his team was ousted. Mentioned to him that I’d reviewed his book and enjoyed it, and he thanked me with a wide grin, clearly having a good time hosting this shindig.

If yr curious about what the scene was like, here’s some video from the event:

I made it back to the home-away-from-home around dinner time. Have to mention one thing I saw on the way back -- sort of an “only in Vegas”-type deal.

Was riding shotgun with some of the other PokerNews guys when at a light I noticed the hands of the dude at the wheel in the vehicle next to us. He was holding playing cards. Then he wasn’t! Then he was again.

I got the attention of Eric, Ben, and Alex -- the guy was doing card tricks in the car while driving! Just making cards appear and disappear. No passengers in the car. We were essentially his audience at that moment. It was quite a show.

Since I’d loaded up on hamburgers and hot dogs at Hogs & Heifers, I wasn’t too hungry. Thought about playing in the Mookie on Full Tilt, as it afforded one last chance to win a spot in tonight’s BBT5 Tournament of Champions. Just 24 players will be competing in that one -- not even as many as were in the Brunson Beer Pong III -- with the top three winning seats in the WSOP Main Event, and the next two winning $2,000 WSOP packages.

I’d had three previous shots to land a seat in earlier Invitational events. Best finish in those had been seventh (needed top two to get into the TOC). The Mookie, meanwhile, only offered one spot. There were 101 entered last night, so the odds of yr humble gumshoe getting there were pretty slim.

The MookiePlayed what felt like a smart first hour in which I’d chipped up slowly but surely without showing down a hand. Then took a horrendous hit with pocket queens when an opponent with fours flopped a full boat on me. I was probably too eager to get my chips in after the 7-4-7 flop, but I imagine they would’ve gotten in somehow anyway. A hand or two after that we were at the first break, and I was down to 700 chips or so and 79th of 80 left.

I subsequently went deep into my turtle shell, poking my head out a couple of times to double up, and somehow made it through the second hour still with chips. Won a few more hands -- including a very lucky one with pocket eights versus K-K when I was the one hitting the flop -- and with 30 to go I was in the top ten.

Ended up making the money, and then eventually got to the final table with the shortest stack. Was all in on the first hand of the final table with A-6 versus Q-J, both a queen and jack flopped, I was outta there. Was satisfying to final table, but obviously it would’ve been nice to get all of the way to the end and be playing again tonight for something more.

Today we’ve got meetings with the PokerNews crew, readying for tomorrow’s big kickoff. I mentioned before that as of now I won’t be live blogging at the WSOP until my return from Peru (I leave next Monday). But I’ll be down at the Rio some tomorrow and this weekend and will report here a bit on what I see.

Gonna go ahead and predict I won’t be reporting much more on drinking games, but one never knows.

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