Saturday, June 23, 2012


WHATTTAREDBOOOOLLLL!I’m a coffee drinker, although only in the mornings. Am having a second cup right now, in fact. Part of the effort to reawaken the brain and try to focus on the day ahead. Writing a blog post helps with the waking up, too.

Not too big on taking in lots of caffeine late in the day or evening. Even in a case like last night, where after a morning’s full of work at the home-away-from-home, I was at the Rio until about 2:30 a.m. helping with the coverage of Event No. 40, the $2,500 Limit Hold’em event for PokerNews. An interesting field left in that one, with Terrence Chan, Sorel Mizzi, Chad Brown, and Rep Porter among the nine players chasing first-time WSOP casher Vincent Gironda who’s led at the end of both Day 1 and Day 2.

My blogging partner Brett had been working since dawn as well, meaning we were both talking about walls and hitting them by the time play concluded and we finally shut things down. Was a good day-slash-night overall, and I was glad to be working with Brett as well as Lee “chingster23” Davy who also helped us out for the middle stretch.

Brett had a Red Bull near the end to help with the final push. I tried a Red Bull once, but didn’t like the taste enough to finish it and thus truly experience its effects. Nor does the massive intake of the drink by a certain tournament director make me any more Red Bullish. (Bang!)

When covering a poker tournament, one grows accustomed to the rhythms of play as well as the improvised choreography of walking in between the tables. It’s an elaborate dance in which reporters, tournament staff members, cocktail waiters and waitresses, massage therapists, and players all participate.

The more you spend time in between the tables, the more you come to anticipate meetings at intersections and the instinctive etiquette involved in stepping aside to allow others to pass. You also become aware of other patterns as well, such as the constant requests from wait staff to players for drink orders.

“Water, Red Bull!” goes the refrain. Over and again. The pitch and intonation of the call punctuates the cricket-like riffling of chips and other ambient noise.

There’s one member of the Rio wait staff, a stout, middle-aged gentleman, whose distinctively gruff baritone always captures the attention of those of us inhabiting the space. Sort of a like a member of the supporting cast, passing in and out of scenes, uttering his one and only line over and again.

He tends to connect the words when he says them, creating a funny-sounding portmanteau that nearly obliterates the intended meaning.

“WHATTTAREDBOOOOLLLL!” he says. And then, a moment later, he says it again.


It almost sounds like he’s marveling at the sight of a striking piece of pottery (“What a red bowl!”). Or a unique breed of cattle (“What a rare bull!”). But we all know what he’s saying. And for whatever reason, we like hearing him say it. Possibly because of the way the call wakes us up momentarily from what can become a somnambulent-like stupor caused by the repetition of hands, of passing between tables, of the dance.

We grin silently as he passes by. Or occasionally take him up on the offer, although like I say I’m more likely to go for the water than the Red Bull.

And the play continues.

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Blogger E.J. said...

Reminds me of my youth and being at a Chicago White Sox game. Being from Florida it was an experience already. But the vendor in our section hawking brew made it even better. His call was "Ice Cold Beer". But for all we could know it sounded like he was saying "Iced Cobia". Cobia being a much sought after game fish in our home area. It entertained us all day. And being teenagers and unsupervised we spent the whole game trying to build up the nerve to order an Iced Cobia from him. Great post as always. Thx.

6/23/2012 5:18 PM  

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