Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Vegas: Like, literally

Seat draw is an often overlooked form of variance in poker. It's less easy to overlook on transatlantic flights, something that became clear to me within minutes of takeoff from London. I was wedged up against a window, hemmed in by some ladies of Indian origin from Essex, whose hen party numbers were bolstered by the entire rows directly in front and behind me.

That meant nine hours of listening to the same conversation on loop.

"He's fit though innit"
"Yeah Innit"
"You can't say he ain't Innit"
"Yeah he's fit innit"

The only break from this came every twenty minutes or so when it was selfie time. Selfie time took a little longer than it strictly needed to because each of the participants had to decide which of the three pouts in the pout palette to go with this time (the sexy one, the surprised one, or the surprised and sexy one).

Oh, and one of the girls in the front row was wearing two penises on her head.

Like, literally.

Somehow in the midst of all this I managed to write my last blog. Thanks to everyone for their kind comments, retweets and shares which made it one of my most popular in a long while.

Tumble dryer turbulence

It's fair to say I was pretty relieved when we finally touched down in Vegas. As we approached, turbulence made the experience a bit like what I imagine being in a tumble dryer to be. As I watched us about to touch down, I was torn between relief that it would soon be over, and concern at how wildly we were still lurching. I started to wonder if my last blog might be my last blog.

Like, literally.

They say that in such moments strange things pass through your mind. The strange thing that passed through mine was that if we crashed, I hoped my iPad would be recovered and the blog, so that my wife would know I was thinking of her in my final moments.

As it happened, what looked like inches from the ground the pilot must have lost his nerve and we lurched back skywards. Twenty bumpy minutes later we had circled back to the point we could go for it again. This time we touched down safe. I immediately retired to the rest room to recover. When I emerged there was good news and bad news. I sailed through immigration (no line) only to find my baggage hadn't made the trip. A stressed out airline employee took my details and told me it would most likely be delivered the following day.

It wasn't.

My brother from another mother Carlos

Four days later it still hadn't shown up. I'd watched the website lie to me for three days promising delivery in 4 to 6 hours. I tried ringing them but the phone cut out within thirty seconds. They tried ringing me but same thing. I got good at optimising what I could communicate in 30 seconds but not good enough to get sorted out.
When the bag finally showed up, only my brother from another mother Carlos was at home in the Big Brokos house. The delivery guy seemed suspicious. 

"You don't look like a Dara or an O'Kearney"

In the mean time I'd been forced to buy whatever emergency clothing I could find in the Rio, including two of the same trousers in different sizes. When the helpful checkout lady pointed this out I told her I was allowing for weight gain over the series. Well, it's important to be realistic.

My rather motley wardrobe attracted the mirth of my housemates. Andrew compared the experience of living with me to a Tennessee Williams play with my increasingly eccentric attire a barometer to how far I had descended into insanity. I ran into Sam Grafton in Starbucks in the Rio who offered the view that with my age comes the possibility I could carry off the look of a businessman with so much money I was just dressing however the heck I pleased. When he heard I was still waiting for my luggage he said he assumed I'd look less rich eccentric once it got there. Having seen the fruits of Mrs Doke shopping expedition for this year's Vegas attire I assured him this was not a given.

Running in Vegas, like literally

I have been trying to run since I got here but I don't go for more than three miles at a time. It's quite hot so dehydration is a risk, and I'm told the road surface is a lot harder here than back home to prevent melting. Since I generally run on grass at home and have lighter shoes when I run here injury is a real worry, but so far so good on that front. I'm lucky that due to some weird genetic anomaly I don't suffer in heat at all. I ran in 48 degrees one day with the media telling everyone to stay indoors (and they did: I didn't see one runner or pedestrian on my entire run) and felt just fine.

Running bad

So far the script of this trip as far as my poker tournaments go is work my up to roughly double starting stack in the early stages then lose all the flips and coolers. With the shorter starting stacks than we are used to at home (5 times the buyin, so 5k in the $1k events and 7500 in the 1500s), you can't lose too many pots before you find yourself in push fold territory, and even if you start well it'll be time to flip sooner rather than later. I don't think it's a coincidence that the one event so far I got a deepish run in was the Marathon with its 26200 starting stack. And even there a big lost flip late on day 2 was the difference between having a punishing stack that could attack the bubble and a shortish one whose main objective was to get through the bubble.

Hopefully I'll get a change of scriptwriter at some point this trip but the most important thing when running bad is not to let it affect your play, and on that front at least I'm reasonably confident I'm succeeding. This is the most I've enjoyed Vegas outside of the poker ever: it definitely helps that when I look out my window I see Red Rock rather than the lights of the Strip, and my housemates are all very sympatico.

Getting arrested, almost

One new thing I've been dong this year is recording some short Facebook Live clips. Unlike most vlogs the main focus is not me or my results but just to show different typical tiny bites from a poker player's day at the WSOP.  So there have been clips of me waking to my table at start of a tournament, bagging up chips at the end of the day, milling around the corridors of the Rio with the other locusts at the break, and almost getting arrested in the Gold Coast. Turns out it's actually illegal to film in a casino here, despite the fact that Daniel Negreanu does it all the time on his Youtube channel. I considered making this point to the cops but rejected the notion. American cops are not like our nice friendly cops back home: I always get the feeling it wouldn't take much to trigger them going full Rodney King. So I stuck to respectfully answering all my questions as they rifled through my passport. The conversation (and my thoughts in parentheses) went something like this:

"Where are you from?"
"Ireland" (hence the Irish passport, Einstein)
"How did you get to the United States?"
"I flew" (do I look like I swam here?)
"How come there's no stamp? Did you even go thru customs?"
"Um...yeah...I did. I had an ESTA" (is stamping passports even a thing any more?)
"What Middle Eastern countries have you visited?"
"Ummmm.....when..like in my life?" (not sure I like where this is going)
"Like November 2016"
"Huh?" (Huh?)

The cop is jabbing his finger at a stamp in Arabic dated November 2016
(Shit, where did that come from?)
I draw a total blank for about thirty seconds while the cops look like they're about to draw something else before I remember MPN Mazagan last November. I always knew Clodagh Hansen would get me arrested some day. But not like this
"Oh. That's Morocco" (which isn't in the Middle East, but I'm thinking it wouldn't be helpful to point that out).

After that the whole thing fizzled out into a lecture on how it's against the law to film in a casino. Which I'd kinda gathered by now.

A dream comes true

Another highlight was getting to go into the commentary booth for the first four hours of the Seniors final table alongside Lon McEachern and Norman Chad on PokerGo. A lot of people are understandably annoyed at having to pay for something that was always free until now, and it's certainly a shame that casual viewers aren't able to tune in any more as that helps grow the game, but I get that the WSOP is a business and if they can make money from something they will probably look to do so.

It was pretty surreal to find myself sitting beside two icons of the game. Shoutout to Tatjana Pasalic for pushing my case to the producers.


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I was at this place last week. This is such a joy as a place for food! I had a beautiful time here. It reminded me of other venues in NYC. A beautiful, wonderful place that had excellent atmosphere.


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