Wednesday, June 22, 2011

2011 WSOP, Day 22: The Longest Day of the Year

The Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino, midday, June 21, 2011I’m here. In Vegas again. Heat. Poker. Writing.

The trip here, about 2,200 miles or something for yr humble scribbler, always makes for a long day.

The flight was uneventful, the most exciting moment coming when I spilled half a cup of coffee on myself, thankfully avoiding sending the hot liquid all over the bare legs of my shorts-wearing neighbor. I arrived on time (and nearly dry), humped it down to baggage claim, and waited through about four cycles of the show promos while standing by the luggage carousel, the Phantom of the Opera overture being the signal for when we’d started over. Grabbed my bag, and soon was in the back of a Las Vegas cab, riding toward the strip.

As the driver and I silently hurtled down Tropicana Avenue, I was struck by how familiar it all has come to seem, that bizarre landscape of oddly-shaped, shiny buildings of different colors rising up out of the nothing, the first, necessary stage of the disorientation process that will continue until the end of the visitor’s stay.

I also found myself thinking about the fact that this time the stay is only for four weeks (rather than nearly eight), and realizing how that fact was affecting my mindset in an especially positive way.

Speaking of disorientation, the prospect of two whole months in the desert can induce such pretty damned quickly. When the first events kick off at the end of May, the middle of July is so far away it doesn’t seem real. Like that beam shining upwards from the Luxor’s tip, you can see where it starts but as lift your gaze things get fuzzy pretty quickly. And who knows what the hell it’s pointing at, really.

But four weeks you can almost hold in your brain all at once. Especially when they are divided into a couple of weeks of prelims and a couple devoted to the Main.

I got unpacked and settled and was over at the Rio by mid-afternoon. When I picked up my credentials, I asked WSOP Media Director Seth Palansky why they had started without me. We laughed and caught up a bit more, talking some about how a lot of media types seemed to be arriving late this year, with more than usual (it seemed) confining their coverage to the Main Event.

Seth and I also discussed those daily “deepstack” tourneys at the Rio that have been attracting whopping numbers. I believe the $235 buy-in event had 1,100 or so runners yesterday, making for a first prize of $43K or thereabouts. I assured Seth I will be trying one of these at some point before I leave.

The 'Mothership' in darknessI made my way to the Amazon Room and saw the new layout, with the huge “Mothership” -- i.e., the elaborately-constructed arena surrounding the main feature table -- taking up a lot of space there in the center of the room. And looking a bit dark and ominous, yesterday's lone final table (in Event No. 34, a $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em event) having yet to begin.

Between that big, shadowy space in the middle of the room and the deepstack tourney occupying the far corner, there wasn’t a whole heckuva lot happening WSOP-wise when I arrived there in the Amazon, as further indicated by the half-empty press box.

There were plenty of folks there, though, scribbling, formatting photos, and otherwise documenting the proceedings before us.

“Shamus! Good to see you,” said B.J. Nemeth as he passed by, camera in hand. “Welcome to hell,” he added with a grin. It did reach 109˚ yesterday.

I’d end up spending a good while both in the press box and wandering around the Amazon and Pavilion rooms. Saw many of those friends to whom I was referring yesterday, including Pauly, F-Train, Snoopy, Remko, Frank, Jess, Lance, Timtern, Michele, Elissa, Eric, Donnie, Mickey, Paul, Chad, JonBon, Ducky, FlipChip, and other PokerNews peoples, and probably a few more I’m forgetting. Met a few new folks, too, including WhoJedi, Lando, Ben, Ashley, Joe, and some others.

I also finally met Kevmath. (That’s a sentence a few others have written over the last few weeks.) Felt more like a reunion than a first meeting, really, as Kevin and I have been in pretty steady communication for a number of years now. We talked briefly about his WSOP experience thus far, and since he happens to be off today we made plans to meet for lunch before he plays the 2 p.m. deepstack.

Day 22 action from the WSOPWas about to go tag along with B.J. for a quick trip to El Pollo Loco, but ended up going for a sit-down meal with F-Train over at the Thai place right around the corner from the Rio. Among other topics, we talked about Rise Poker (with whom F-Train is working) and some of their upcoming freerolls and other plans and promotions. The two of us then stopped over at the Palms to see Merchdawg, Pauly, and others playing in the famous Pokerati PLO/NLHE game before F-Train took me back to the new home-away-from-home.

As expected, it had been a long day. The longest, you might say, what with it being the summer solstice and all. Not to mention my grabbing three hours more by spending part of it traveling westward three time zones’ worth.

It ended with my discovering that I’d somehow managed to lose track of my ATM card somewhere between home and here. (Remember yesterday how I’d said I had a feeling I’d forgotten something?) Was kind of humorous last night when I called to report the card as lost and asked about getting a replacement. Would I like it mailed to me? Erm, yes, but, you see, funny thing... I’m in Las Vegas...

To cut to the chase, I somehow managed to leave the sucker in the machine yesterday morning on my way to the airport. My branch already has collected it, and Vera will be able to pick it up. A small hassle, all things considered. Have never, ever done that before, if you can believe it. But I was obviously distracted, my mind looking ahead to the coming four weeks. And the heat. And the poker. And the writing.

In addition to meeting Kevmath today, I’m planning to spend some time at the Rio looking in on the action and getting reacclimated to the blogging business. (My first official workday isn’t until tomorrow, when I join in with the coverage of Event No. 40, the $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em / Six-Handed event that will likely draw a lot of high-profile types.) Then I’ll meet the Poker Grump for dinner later.

So another long day, but it should be a fun one. Will try not to spill or lose anything more.

Lookee there, the sun’s already up.

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