Before heading to New York for a much needed mid series mini break and mental reset (I still felt I was playing as well as I can but also felt that might not continue if I continued being the dog that gets beaten every day and wakes up sad), I went to meet my friend Daiva who had just flown in from London to start her campaign. Any meeting with Daiva is pretty much a guaranteed morale booster, and here's how this went (I already tweeted most of this so apologies to my Twitter followers for the repetition):
1. Go to Treasure Island to meet Daiva and go to steakhouse Smidge swears is great
2. Send her message we are in coffee shop near check in. Get message back saying she's in check in line
3. Walk to world's longest check in line. Fail to spot Daiva in scrum
4. Back to coffee shop. Text Daiva saying message me when you get to top of line and I'll come back
5. A while later, walk back after she texts. Spot her familiar blonde pony tail and shape at check in desk
6. Alarmed when the Daiva I'm watching check in texts back without touching her phone or interrupting her chat with check in person
7. Suspicions of disconnect between Daiva I'm watching check in and Daiva I'm texting grow when I see she's checking in with a guy who looks like an extra from the Sopranos in an episode that is some main characters last
8. Disconnect confirmed when I get text saying she's not staying at Treasure Island but at another hotel. Walk over to other hotel wondering why I ever assumed she was staying at Treasure Island (answer: I'm an idiot) and finally find her
9. Walk back to Treasure Island steakhouse with Daiva where an angry hungry cranky Smidge is wondering why what I said would take 2 minutes actually took 45
10. We order Caesar Salad to the apparent annoyance of waiter
11. Brought two of the mangiest Caesar salads in history (three lettuce leaves dipped in something or other with a couple of bread squares tossed on top)
12. After a debate as to whether we should accept these imposter Caesar salads, I watch Daiva steal some of Smidge's pasta dish he gloats is awesome. Hear her assure him it is far from awesome. Resolve to stop taking dining tips from Smidge or anyone else from Longford
13. Go for my first night of drinks with Daiva safe in the knowledge I just have to flop on a plane to New York after. Daiva is something of a modern day siren. Sirens were beautiful but dangerous creatures who lured sailors to shipwreck on the rocky coast. Daiva is a more benign version: she is such good company time flies by in her presence meaning I usually come close to missing planes when she's around, and once again I cut it fine by not noticing the time
14. Walk back to her hotel so she can order me an Uber only for her phone to die in the act. Lend her adapter so she can recharge phone. Now got a genuine might miss flight sweat
15. Forget to take adapter but make it to airport just in time to be told my flight is cancelled
16. After an hour in cancellation line, told I'm on a flight to LA in 6 hours where I can try to sprint to make a NY flight
17. Type up this note in the airport on my dying phone as tired drunkenness turns into a fretful hangover
18. Spend a pretty grim night surrounded by slots and cleaners in Vegas airport, wondering if a 48 minute connection in LAX is even possible
19. Take only 2 minutes to walk between the gates in LAX. Still almost manage to miss the plane watching everyone else at the gate wondering when the boarding will start
20. When I finally stroll to the gate 15 minutes before takeoff, I'm urgently told "Final boarding. Run! Run!" (I guess LA is a bit too laid back for boarding announcements). I do run run down the shoot, only to find myself sitting on a plane waiting to takeoff for over an hour.
The last time I was as relieved to see Mrs Doke as I was to finally see her in JFK was almost three decades ago when I wasn't certain that I'd successfully tricked her into leaving behind a perfectly fine life in Nurnberg for the craziness of coming to live with an eccentric Irishman in pre Celtic Tiger Ireland until she got off the plane in Dublin. And the last time an Irishman was this happy to see New York, there was a potato famine going on back home.
We stayed (as we always do) with our friends Russ and Nancy in their wonderfully located apartment on the Upper East Side a few blocks from Central Park. Wonderfully located it may be, but it might as well be in Queens as we rarely left it except to eat and drink :)
The name of the game was chill, and that we most certainly did. After a few days largely spent lying on sofas watching TV and chin flapping with Russ, it was time to head back to Vegas for round 2 of my WSOP this year. In terms of outcomes it could hardly go much worse than round 1, so I was raring to go.
Mrs Doke and I traveled back to Vegas on different flights scheduled to arrive at the same terminal. We arranged to meet at baggage reclaim, but as I was about to head down the stairs to there, I got a text from her saying I had to catch a train to train terminals. I arrived in a terminal devoid not just of Mrs Doke but anyone, and was unable to catch a train back. I ended up walking the mile and a half between the two terminals at 2 AM, along a route not exactly designed for pedestrianism (think roundabouts, flyovers and ramps). Highlights were when I start to gain on a homeless person in the midst of a rant:
"You're all fucking cowards, hiding in your compounds, keeping everything and everyone out, hiding behind your gates and your walls, driving around in your Popemobile"
and as I approached the destination terminal, a cop car started slowly following me. I guess they were wondering why someone who looked like me with a green ninja turtle bag was walking towards an empty terminal. After making my way inside, I followed the signs and found myself back at the exact spot where I had checked my texts. At the bottom of the stairs waited an impatient Mrs Doke.
Dylan Lindh tweeted that after his best ever WSOP last year, this year's worst ever was a humbling experience, but he had had enough humility and was ready to start running better. My thoughts exactly