Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Travel Report: WPT Marrakech, Day 3

WPT MarrakechAm writing this one on a plane, somewhere high above the Atlantic, a little over halfway through what will ultimately be about a 24-hour journey back home to the States from Marrakech, Morroco. Looking at four flights total today, the first two of which carried Elissa, Mickey, and me to Casablanca, then to Paris.

“Preflop and flop were okay,” I joked with them as together we wound our way through Charles de Gaulle airport. “Now we just gotta hold through the turn and river.” Mickey said something about the flop -- the flight to Paris -- not being ideal, and I cracked that at least we were still drawing live.

They both each had two more flights as well, and we had all been more than a little unsure how the first part of the trip would go. There had been floods in Casablanca and Rabat, causing casualties and (we had heard) shutting down the airport there. And heavy snow in Paris, too, making us unsure whether CDG would be fully operational. But we all made it through those stops without difficulty, and so the journey continues.

Yesterday’s final day of the World Poker Tour Main Event went relatively well, all things considered. Down to nine players and a final table, the tournament was relocated over to the Epicurean room, a not-terribly-large space located adjacent to a bar-slash-lounge right near the casino proper.

Painting on wall at WPT Marrakech final tableA crescent-shaped table with black felt sat in the center -- imagine a largish blackjack table -- with a couple of rows of seats arranged on all sides. Elissa pointed out the paintings of ladies and other ornamentation on the walls, noting that the place perhaps more resembled a bordello than a poker room. But it was certainly functional. There was a flop camera and a couple of television screens in the corners, and all in all the arrangement was such that anyone in the room could see the action from pretty much any spot.

We got there early and took seats in one of the front rows -- just a few feet from the table -- where we had access to power for our laptops. A few other media also set up in the room itself, although many chose to take tables out in the lounge and walk back and forth instead. We found a wireless connection without difficulty prior to the first hand being dealt, and settled in for what initially appeared as though it would be a fairly painless day of reporting.

Such was not to be the case, however, as the wireless immediately stopped working just as the final table began. It was completely out for an hour before it was restored, then went out again shortly after that. We essentially resigned ourselves to writing up several posts at a time, then taking turns running back over closer to the larger poker room where the first two days had been played and from which we could access the internet. Kind of a long, winding walk to and from -- and through the smoky, crowded casino -- which definitely made the day a bit more arduous than we’d hoped it would be.

The final table at WPT MarrakechOur brains were further challenged by the names at this final table. First off, there were two Guillaumes sitting next to each other, then a Sebastian and a Sebastien (with an “e”), also side-by-side and sitting next to them. That group provided a bit of a challenge to WPT Executive Tournament Director Matt Savage who announced the final table. And among the last names we had a Willamsson, a Labuissiere, an Oberauer, and a Nitsche. (My fellow reporters will sympathize with me here.)

But we managed well enough. The final table itself went relatively quickly, with one player -- Sebastian Homann of Germany -- essentially running over the other eight to win the sucker. He’d entered the final table first in chips, then knocked out three of the first four to have more than three-quarters of the total chips with five left. At heads-up his opponent, Guillaume Cescut of France, actually fought back to take the lead briefly, but Homann soon retook the advantage and finished him off.

WPT MarrakechIt was still early evening when we finished, so we ended up at the restaurant at the hotel located adjacent to Casino de Marrakech where we enjoyed one last terrific meal in Morocco. After having fun with some of the English translations on the menu -- the most alarming-sounding being “Cake of brain to tarragon” -- Mickey settled on the salmon while Elissa and I split an especially tasty rack of lamb.

We got back to the hotel by ten o’clock or so, but were already eyeing the clock and calculating how we’d have to leave by 3:30 a.m. to catch our pre-dawn first flight. And, of course, we had those worries about whether airports would be open to keep us from sleeping soundly the few hours we had left to do so. But I did manage to sleep a solid four hours and as I say as it has turned out the hand we’ve been dealt for the journey home has gone just fine up to now.

I wasn’t that anxious, anyway, to be honest. These last couple of days, I’ve been thinking about that Alfred Hitchcock film The Man Who Knew Too Much -- not the first one (from 1934, I think), but the remake he did in 1956 with James Stewart and Doris Day. In that one, an American family goes to Morocco and unwittingly gets involved in international intrigue right there in Casablanca and Marrakesh.

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen it, and now I definitely want to check it out again. Doris Day’s Oscar-award winning song comes up somewhere in there -- “Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be).” Like that Crosby, Stills & Nash song I was referring to a week ago, “Que Sera, Sera” is also one of those especially memorable melodies that kind of sticks with you.

Kind of lullaby-like, even soothing. And I’m realizing the whole “the future’s not ours to see” theme of the song kind of settles one down, too. The internet might stop working, making it hard to do the job you’ve been assigned. Flights might get cancelled or delayed. But like the cards dealt in a hand of hold’em, those things are out of our control. And therefore not worth our fretting over them too much.

Okay, gonna try to rest my peepers a little. Still a long way to go. Might try to post this one during my final layover, if I have access.

If not, no worries, right?

(P.S. Some incredible run good has gotten me home as scheduled. Time shleepy Shamus went to bed.)

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Blogger BJ Nemeth said...

When confronted with challenging names during hand-for-hand coverage, I set up an automatic text replacement macro. (It's built-in for Macs using the latest OS.)

Labuissiere would become "labu," Oberauer would become "ober," and Nitsche would become his initials "dn" -- since "nit" and "nits" might potentially come up in a poker context.

When the final table is over, I delete the macros. Saves a lot of time and effort, and guarantees consistent spelling.

12/02/2010 1:01 AM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

That's a good tip. Thanks, Bartholomew Jebidiah!

12/02/2010 8:26 AM  

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