W-Day Plus 28: Determination

I was determined that after a five-day hiatus between the previous two posts, I would get back to daily updates. As it’s now been two weeks, you can see how well that’s gone.

Like so many other dreams in Las Vegas, that one’s been broken. It’s bad, because it not only means that I’ve broken the chain of daily info, but that I have to leave out material in order to keep this post at a manageable length, if I remember  them at all, that is.

We’re now just over a week to the start of the Main Event, which is #68 on the calendar this year. The day I started this post, two events got under way: Events #41 and #42, the $1.5K NLHE Monster Stack and the $3K NLHE Shootout. I’m getting back to it as Event #53, the PLO/O8/Big O is a couple hours off. Determination, eh?

The day after my last post was the beginning of Event #26, the $1,500 Omaha 8 tournament. One of my concerns about taking this job was my ability to remember faces and attach them to names. Much better with remembering trivia, numbers, and dates than people I’ve met. It’s not an age thing, just one of those little quirks I’ve had to live with all my life. But apparently faces and names of poker players that I don’t talk to for the most part are more like trivia than the faces and names of poker players, dealers, or anyone else in daily life that I do talk to, so over the course of two HORSE tournaments I’d picked up a certain amount of familiarity with the people who play limit tournaments at the WSOP. Benny Glaser won the $1,500 a couple of days before winning the $10K version of the same game.

Benny Glaser and his mates just after he won his first bracelet of the year.

Benny Glaser and his mates just after he won his first bracelet of the year.

IMG_2848I played five Bovada tournaments on Sunday—Father’s Day—after the O8 tournament and min-cashed in just one—my only positive poker experience since the Survivor at the Venetian a couple of days after I got here. Played the Orleans HORSE tournament and only made it about three hours in.

Had the next day off, as well, and bricked three Bovada tournaments, then got halfway through the Orleans O8 tournament. Then the next day it was back to reporting, this time on Event #36, a $2.5K O8/Stud 8.

Three-and-a-half weeks' worth of notes on WSOP events, more or less.

Three-and-a-half weeks’ worth of notes on WSOP events, more or less.

Let me just note: keeping track of actions and cards in limit split-pot games is not an easy task. For one thing, there are a lot more cards exposed in stud and Omaha games to start with. Sometimes it’s difficult for players to see what’s out there, and as live reporters, we’re supposed to be as unobtrusive as possible, so despite the occasional stink-eye from players who think we’re crowding them, we really are trying to give them room. And it’s just not all that clear sometimes where the chips are going, who got the high, who got a low, if there’s a quarter, etc. I do my best for someone with crappy handwriting.

Keeping track of moving players isn’t any easier.


With image enhancement, I’m almost visible in the Thunderdome, with Aditya Prasetyo next to the dealer, Fabrice Soulier in the white cap, and champion Hani Awad on the right.

The night Hani Awad won the bracelet he’s been heads up for in 2015, I headed over to the Orleans to play some poker myself since we wrapped up around 11:30pm instead of my usual 2:20am. All the O8 tables were full—it was the day of the first flight of the Monster Stack—but after about 5 minutes, I got a seat at a 1/3 NLHE game. Called a raise to $8 with [kx jx], with me, the original raiser, and the blinds into the pot, flop [kx jx tx], small blind bets $25, original raiser calls, and I put $80 in only to have the original raiser put me all in and suck out with [kx qx] on the turn. I wasn’t about to go to the cash machine for more,

IMG_2853Played 0.5/1 PLO8 on for a total of about 20 minutes and blew 100bb and went to the Golden Nugget to try out the PLO8/O8/Big O format that I’ll be covering starting today (assuming I get this post up on time). Had a couple of good hands, but busted out after about four-and-a-half hours.

harperI had been scheduled to report on the $10K Stud 8 tournament, but the Monster Stack grew to monstrous size. We had three people covering a Day 1B field of 4,507, which meant about 1,500 players—or 150 10-handed tables—apiece, and even with much simpler hands to write down, it was still a little bit of nightmare just trying to find and update people. I wrote an early post about Portland’s Steven Harper, who turned out to be the Day 2 chip leader. I’ve been kind of out of touch except with my particular events, but I did manage to plug the PDX players a little:

I was also the first reporter (I think) to notice Arizona economics professor Mitchell Towner, the guy who won the thing. But I wasn’t there by then. I headed home to Portland for a couple of days. Now it’s back to work in half an hour. I promise not to take so long on the next one.

W-Day Plus 14: Damn You, Martin Harris!


No waiting at registration at 2am.

I had another title and theme picked out for this post the other day, but it’s completely escaped me.

If this trip has done anything, it has given me even more respect for the abilities and stamina of Martin @hardboiledpoker Harris, and the work he’s done on his “Hard-Boiled Poker” blog. I also might hate him a little bit now, for making live reporting look like a task a mere mortal might be able to take on and still have a life.

I’ve been reading Martin’s work for several years, including his accounts of live reporting from stops in the US, Europe, and Latin America, as well as essays on politics and poker, plus articles on PokerNews. When I first considered branching out from this blog, Martin—by then an editor at PN—was the person I reached out to, and he’s been my editor there ever since. Oh, and he also teaches a course on poker and popular culture and has a farm with horses. After I’d applied for this job, and while I was waiting to hear back about whether I’d be hired, I read through Martin’s daily accounts of covering the 2008 WSOP, back when he was new to the game.

Since then, I’ve come to the conclusion that people like Martin are either just much better at this than I am, or that they have some sort of fucking time machine they’re not telling me about.

After the first HORSE tournament (and no, I don’t think changing the rotation order to HEROES is going to make it any easier for inattentive players to know which game they’re on, just look at the placards), I resolved to make sure I got a post in, no matter what the turnarounds were.

The first day of the $3K HORSE wasn’t anywhere near the car crash of the $1.5K. I was on with a different partner this time, another newbie to live reporting, but one who had some experience as a dealer at the WSOP, and we both had a couple of events under our belts, so we had a better feel for things.

The $3K was a smaller field, as well, though that meant even more concentration of big names to cover, and one issue we found ourselves with was a too-expansive list of stacks to track. Chino Rheem, Jason Somerville, Justin Bonomo (runner up in the $1.5K HORSE), Hellmuth, Ho, David Chiu, Robert Mizrachi just off his Stud bracelet, etc. No dinner break on Day 1 and we wrapped up around 2:30am. Monday. There was a lot of non-poker emotion around, as it was Sunday afternoon that Ryan Laplante talked about the Orlando shooting—which had happened early Sunday morning—at his bracelet ceremony.

I got to the house, finally got to sleep as light was starting to seep from behind the blackout curtains on my window, then woke up at 9:30am. Wrote up the report for the start of Day 2 and posted it, tried to catch up a little on the world outside and what was going on in the rest of the WSOP, but before I knew it, it was time to head back to the Rio for the 2pm start of HORSE.

The Millionaire Maker had been running over the weekend, and there were a number of Portland poker faces I ran across in the halls. Wayne Keller rolled up to me to say hi, and later on I ran across Darin Stout and Jim Rostel  (among others), who were there to rail Danny Elmore, who came in 18th out of nearly 7,200 entries. Elmore busted late on Day 3, but by now everyone knows that another Portland-are player, Lisa Meredith, went on to Day 4 to win half a million dollars after mostly playing $20 tournaments at Claudia’s, a mile from my house. Day 2 of the HORSE tournament wrapped up about 2am again, with two tables of eight players each coming back for Day 3.

Back up at 9:30 or so. Write the Day 3 intro (our guidelines say they’re supposed to be written the night before, but so far that hasn’t happened for me), then into the fray. We had two tables in an otherwise empty quarter of the Amazon Room to start with. The reporting desk was on the far side of the section, a “problem” Martin would sneer at. Then two minutes before the tournament was to start, the floorperson told players to put their chips back in their bags and ran them all the way across the room. My fellow reporter and I had to grab our computers and hurry to catch up, because we were fairly certain one of the players was going to bust on one of the first hands, since he came back for the day with just a single big bet.

Little did we know that there would be such a flurry of action as we had, with seven players busting in the course of ninety minutes, which meant a move to a secondary feature table, which was next to the “Thunderdome” where the final table of the Millionaire Maker was taking place. Fortunately, the placement of the media table was a little more protected than on the other secondary table (tertiary table?), which had been an issue on the $1.5K HORSE.

The chip leader through most of late Day 2 and up until almost dinner break on Day 3 was Jared Talarico, who I described in my Day 3 intro as having put on a “master class in relaxed aggression” (which was edited out) due to his being continually massaged for most of three days, blew up just before dinner break on the final table, losing a huge pot to Marco Johnson. In a series of about three hands, Talarico went from having more than half of the 6M chips in play to less than a 1M. There was no masseuse after the dinner break.

Johnson won the bracelet about midnight. I got home, watched the latest Game of Thrones, and slept until 10:30 (it was Wednesday, by now). I had planned to play the 11am 6-Max tournament at Planet Hollywood, but I was going to be late. Played it anyway and busted in Level 6, when I played [6x 6x] and the board ran out [qx jx 5x qx 6x], natch, my caller had the [qx jx] and the better full house before I even made mine. Thought about playing the afternoon Big O game, but went back to the house, helped chop stuff up for tostadas, ate too much, had a couple of drinks, and went to bed earlier than I normally do even when I’m not reporting late into the night.

Damn you, Martin Harris!

W-Day Plus 9: Turnarounds


What happened to W-Days Plus 6 through 8, you might ask? Well, Event #8, the $1.5K HORSE tournament is what happened.

The first day of the event, I got to the Rio early and set up in the Amazon Room. The displays showed the tournament clock for the event. My colleague joined me and got his computer set up, but with fifteen minutes to go, nobody else at the table, no dealer, and no players, we were getting the feeling we were in the wrong place.

We eventually decamped to Brasilia, which was half full of eager HORSE players, but by then we were already behind the eight-ball, to use an analogy from a different game. As it turns out, the two of us were the coverage team, and the we got to work setting up the details of coverage for the tournament, spotting notable players, figuring out which sections we were covering, etc. HORSE uses up more tables because it’s played eight-handed. It isn’t like 6-Max, where you need half again as many tables as 9-handed, but still, 10% more. By a couple hours after starting time, the field had grown from over 500 to more than 700 (capping out at 778) and the two of us were feeling a bit overwhelmed.

That wasn’t helped by the fact that since HORSE whose player base is generally more experienced and established, the field was studded with big names who you really don’t want to make a mistake writing about. Of course, you necer want to make mistakes, but they do happen. The fear of getting the first name of a bracelet winner from the night before wrong, or writing down the wrong card for someone like Scotty Nguyen (who made the final table) or getting action wrong for a hand involving Greg Raymer (I’m not saying any of those things happened, just using them as examples)can be daunting. These are people who live poker, and however much as a player and reporter I sort of live poker, it wasn’t my job until last week, so I don’t have the same years of investment in what happens. If I put someone’s name into a post and get something wrong, they might bad, but my name’s not on the post. I might get in trouble or get fired, but nobody outside of the organization will have the slightest idea who I am.

Anyway, Day 1 didn’t feel like it went so well.

It also didn’t go well for Seattle-area player Ian Johns, who was down to 2K at the end of the day.


We wrapped up sometime about 3 in the morning, I got to bed around 4, and was back at the Rio by 11 by 11am.

Day 2 started to go better, as we got a feel for the project. Also, only 202 players to cover. It went bettter for Johns as well, and when I checked on his seat, I wrote a post about him being up to nearly 20K. He continued to climb throughout the day, my partner and I got better (plus there were fewer players to cover), and we were down to 20 by the end of the day, barely getting the three-table seat draw up before having to scurry around to get chip counts and  table balancing seating changes.

Home at 4am again and back to the Rio by 11am. By Day three, I was starting to feel a bit sleep-deprived. I don’t normally sleep much anyway, but three-and-a-half or four hours a night for a week grinds even me down.

Day three started with three tables, with each one picking up exactly where they left off the day before. By four hours in, the field had been whittled down to a single table of eight, including Scotty Nguyen, and we were moved over to the secondary feature table, while a match in the last stages of the $10K NLHE Heads Up was going on the main stage.

The rail on the HORSE tournament was incredibly loud, which made writing updates—even getting into my seat at the table—kind of hard. The reporter’s table is right next to one of the entrances to the play area, so spectators tended to sort of blur the line of demarkation, with one two-fisted drinker resting a hand on the back of my chair every time I was out of my seat.

On the secondary feature table in the Amazon Room, with (counter-clockwise from the dealer) Chris Vitch, Andre Akkari, Noah Bronstein, Georgios Sotiropoulos, Ian Johns, and Svetlana Gromenkova (the last two with their backs to the camera). To the right out of the camera were seated Scotty Nguyen and Justin Bonomo.

The last day ran a little over twelve hours, and Ian Johns incredibly made it to the top. Aside from the big comeback on Day 2, there were a couple of times on Day 3 when he was knocked back and had to rebuild. By the end of the day, we were starting to get some attaboys from the bosses on our coverage of the event. Of course, neither of those matched the comeback of Ben Keeline, the busto player who went from driving Uber in Denver to winning $1,000,000 in the Colossus.

After that I slept. Woke up after the customary four hours, got something to drink, and laid back down to get some more sleep for the first time in days.

Friday was a day off, the first of two. I hung around the house for a while, helped my host and his web guy with a couple of issues, listened to a lot of talk about DFS and—I think—baseball that I didn’t understand, then finally headed about about 4pm to the airport to pick up a friend from the airport.

I thought I’d get into town with enough time to grab a late lunch at Krung Siam, but Friday afternoon traffic, amirite? Ended up just grabbing a cheeseburger from a McDonald’s near the airport, then driving around in circles a bunch of times while Brad got his luggage and out to the passenger pickup.

Dropped him off at the hotel, then we headed to the Venetian for another Survivor tournament. My table was next to Brad’s, but the noon game was going on with lots of tables in the main poker room, and our tables were in the aisleway next to the sports bet, where there was a lot of noise coming from the Golden State vs. Cleveland game, which made conversation a bit difficult.

IMG_2828I was in seat 8, and got talking with a woman on my right from the Bay Area named Carey who knew Angela Jordison. I was doing reasonably well for three hours, contesting a couple of times with an aggressive European player in seat 1, then things went bad about three hours in. I had [qx qx] on the button, there was a raise to 1,100 from seat 3 in early position, Carey called, and I eyed the stack of the player in seat 3, then put out 4,500. He went all in, with what I thought was a call and Carey folded. Seat 3 had [2x 2x] and flopped a set in the window. When the payout needed to be made, however, it turned out he had a 5,000-chip at the bottom of his stack, which was almost indistinguishable from the color of the table. No raise had been announced, I hadn’t actually said “call,” and I hadn’t put any chips forward to indicate a call. I would have called the extra 2,600 preflop, but I would have put out my full stack if the 5,000 had been visible.

I knew I was likely on the hook for the extra money, but I asked for a floor ruling. It took a while for the floorperson to get to the table and the Euro guy and a couple of others were telling me to just put the chips out. Maybe I should have, and eventually the floor ruled it was a call. Maybe I’m turning into a douchey angle-shooter.

Brad had busted out of the tournament before I did, but Daryl, who was in town on a weekend trip with his wife, made it to the 12th place extra money payout, which was decent since there were 7 players contributing to it.

Brad and I headed back to his hotel and met up with his brother for dinner at Ping Pang Pong. Dan Idema was there having dinner with three or four others at the next table before they moved to a bigger table one away and were replaced by a couple where the guy kept asking Brad and his brother about their food. I think he was hungry. I got some XO Shrimp Lai Fen, which said it was spicy, and the other guys said they thought it was spicy, but it wasn’t holding a candle to anything from Krung Siam.

Headed back home and slept some more for a long, long time.

W-Day Plus 5: Meet Poker’s Overlords

MSPT Media Director Chad Holloway and Venetian Tournament Director Tommy LaRosa

MSPT Media Director Chad Holloway and Venetian Tournament Director Tommy LaRosa

The poker media have been described as the all-powerful masters of the poker world by some in recent months. I was disappointed that Chad Holloway, host of the Mid-States Poker Tour’s media invitational tournament, didn’t take the opportunity to play that up with a name like MSPT Poker Overlords Tournament or something of the sort.

MSPT put up a seat in their $2M guarantee Main Event for first (and only) prize, and TD Tomma LaRosa—apparently knowing just how high-living most of us writers are—threw in $10 food vouchers, which were snapped up by the participants like fish rising to the top of the tank.

Pretty much everyone there was someone you would know the name of, if not the face. Mo Nuwarrah and Marty Derbyshire of PokerNews (Marty, when he got to my table, said I was “too serious,” but I think it was just three three long days of Colossus). Mark Hoke, Bernard Lee, and even a brief Joe Stapleton sighting.

There were three of us from the WSOP team among the field of 25, including Will Shillibier and Molly Mossey. Will—barely old enough to enter a Vegas casino—is already a far more experienced poker reporter than I am. He was out before me, but Molly was still there after  I left (she didn’t win either). The structure was pretty turbo, with the intent that the game would end in a couple of hours, over before the start of the first flight of the $2M tournament, and I never got above the 2,000 starting stack. Finally got it in under the gun with [ax kx] and was broken by Diana Cox, the media overlord for the Venetian Poker Room, who had [jx jx] in the big blind. Also an Oregonian, which I only found out after the fact.

Funny thing is, that’s my photo. I only posted it to the WSOP media team’s Slack feed, but somehow it got around into the general population. And for the life of me, I can’t figure out why the lighting is so much better than any of the other photos I took, most of which make people look like trolls (see Stapleton and Hoke below, for example). Maybe it’s just Molly.

20160604 MSPT Media Tournament: Mark Hoke20160604 MSPT Media Tournament: Joe Stapleton

Stapleton was sitting just a couple places to the left of Molly on the same table, though he was gone by the time I got her picture on the way out. This is why we have professional photographers.

Rich Bak, winner of the Final Table’s $100K guarantee event in May

Rich Bak hailed me from across the room as we were waiting for the tournament to get going. Like Molly, he took a good photo.

Headed over to Planet Hollywood to play their noon HORSE tournament since I haven’t played it for a while and I’m covering the HORSE tournament next. Did very well on one hand when I made a set of queens in Stud, took out a player who said he was playing the WSOP event (a number of people were there brushing up) then ran into an old man with rolled-up aces on the next Stud rotation as I was drawing to a straight.

Headed back to the house in the late afternoon and sat in the pool while I talked to folks back home. Stayed up later than I planned watching Silicon Valley and Veep and the live stream of the $10,000 Stud final table, then got some sleep before the HORSE tournament in the morning.

W-Day Plus 4: Long Days


Yes, today’s post is pretty late.

I wasn’t even sure if I was going to write it or wait to combine a couple of days into a single report, but let’s give this a try.

Day 2 of the Colossus was set to get under way at 2pm. I got back to the house from covering the last starting flight (Day 1F) at around 4am. Had to stop at a Wal-Mart to pick up something to drink (Diet Coke, natch) and noticed that this town—for all the malls and mini-malls it has—doesn’t have many large groceries. In Portland, pretty much every second or third mall is going to have a grocery store. It might not be open at 4am, but it’d be there at least. Only the fourth or fifth time I’ve ever set foot in a Wal-Mart, and two of the other times were here in Las Vegas.

Slept the sleep of the dead for about four hours then woke up, talked to Barbara at home and the guys in the house, then had to start getting ready to head back to the Rio. It’s about 12 miles. I use an off-brand route that—except for a crossing over US95—avoids the freeways and is pretty much a straight shot with just a couple of turns from Flamingo and onto the street that runs by the subdivision gates. The one downfall being that the first night I drove the last leg, I screeched to a halt at two stop signs that were almost impossible to see in time on unlit sections of a four-lane road road.

ohniskoI made it back to the Rio safe and sound. When 2pm rolled around it was time to get to work. The plan for me was to run around and familiarize myself with the faces attached to  big names, but that sort of went to hell when I ran across a hand for a write-up and tables were breaking at a rapid clip. There were 21,613 entrants total, 846 (under 4%) of them came back for Day 2, and just 78 of those (about 0.036% of the total) made it through the day.

My find of the day was Marek Ohinsko a Czech player with just $3,000 in reported tournament earnings, who had a good read on Michael Mizrachi and made an impressive call for all of his chips. I spotted him before he had reached the top of the chip count, and tried to keep an eye on him the rest of the night.

OK, I’d write more, but I’m falling asleep and I don’t even have to read this.

W-Day Plus 3: Do Not Sit On the Tongue

tongueParking at the Rio is always tight during big events, and I think the Colossus II counts as a big event. But I have my tricks. No, the KISSed-out VW Bug isn’t one of them, but it is one of the first things you’ll see if you park in the Masquerade garage at the Rio. Instead of a long trudge in 115° F. heat across a hot parking lot, it’s a quick pop up to the 4th floor pedestrian bridge, then a long trudge through the air-conditioned halls of the Rio. Things have changed here since the last time I came in this way, with the addition of the KISS Monster Mini Golf feature. I’d hoped there was a way I could win the car for my wife, which is the only reason I got this close, but no luck.

Lots of big names in the Colossus Day 1F. Like with the $150K at the Venetian the other night, it’s sort of odd to spot big poker names playing in a tournament where the buyin is more or less affordable to the average Joe (neglected to mention that I saw Max Pescatori watching soccer with a couple of buddies at the Venetian the other night).

Up at the top of the food chain was 2013 Main Event champ Ryan Riess. I felt a bit proud of myself for being the first person to spot him in the field (at least I think I was), considering how many more faces the more experienced (and let’s face it, everyone’s more experienced than I am at the moment) live reporters are. Our flight (the last of six) had Mike Matusow, Jack Salter, PokerNews Podcast‘s Rich T. Ryan, Loni Harwood, David Pham, and a slew of others.

The day started out slow for me, though. I walked through my assignment area looking for faces I recognized and bricked out, though I felt a bit better when a veteran went though the same group of forty or so tables with me and found only one person he felt was worth mentioning at that stage.

Later in the night/morning, I got to write up a post about Rich Ryan, co-host of the PokerNews Podcast. I picked up a great hand without any “name” players in it just after the money bubble, though my original wordplay title ended up changed to something that just sounds funny. I spent half an hour or more—spread out over a longer period—railing Athanasios Polychronopoulous, who was nursing an ever-dwindling handful—nay, fingerful—of chips through the bubble, watching for a bustout, only to have someone else catch it.

I got the assignment of writing the intro for Day 2, and started working off a previous event’s report, got told that wasn’t a good place to start from, then redid it and eventually brought it into some semblance of acceptability. Got a few hours of sleep, though it doesn’t feel like nearly enough, and it’s already getting to be time to think about heading back over to the Rio, after a short turnaround here at the house.

Tomorrow’s a day off, but I’ve snagged a seat in the Mid-States Poker Tour Media Event from Chad Holloway. The prize is a seat in the MSPT/Venetian $2M event this week!

W-Day Plus 2: Colossus

You sort of have to wonder what the artist was thinking when he depicted the Colossus as just barely large enough to admit a ship into the harbor of Rhodes. Was it a commentary on his opinion of engineers that the statue is shown with nearly zero tolerance to the sides of the yard? Or to the top of the mast itself, which nearly spikes the Colossus’s nether regions? Maybe that was the whole point of doing the painting, some sort of inside joke where an artist can slip a titillating concept into a work that’s supposedly about one of the Seven Wonders of the Classical World.

In any case, you also sort of have to wonder what the people who came up with the World Series of Poker Colossus were thinking when they decided to make the biggest-ever live tournament last year. There’s about as much spare room right now at the Rio as there is between the mast and the Colossus’s dingle in the picture. And if the estimates are correct, it’s only going to get crazier today, the last day of entries for this year’s event.

I hung some picture, moved some furniture, and assembled a vacuum at the house during the day, then headed out to the Rio with what I though was going to be plenty of time to get there. Somehow, between traffic, finding a parking space, and walking in the hot sun to the entrance, I lost twenty minutes of lead time (maybe I can blame Joe Brandenburg, who I chatted with on my way in from the car….)

I got to the live reporters’ room with just a few minutes before the event start. The Colossus is spread out through most of the rooms, and since everyone’s already out on the floor, I don’t have anyone to ask in person about where to go. Messages on the Slack channel are flying fast and thick, and I can’t get anyone’s attention—or I can’t see anyone’s instructions. Can’t find our reporting table in the Pavilion Room, then finally go over to Brasilia and find some of the team.

However, I’m the only person in the room covering the afternoon flight. Most of the room is Flight C, so I get to work familiarizing myself with the players in the quarter of the room that are in Flight D. Even within the rails of that quarter, some of it is ‘C’ tables, which I realize after wondering how such big stacks got built up in less than a level. Then I have to figure out where the demarkation line is.

I get to work doing chip counts, looking for big names, and writing up some hands. Run across a guy early on who’s a “character” that I follow through the rest of the night off and on.


Had Greg Raymer and Carlos Mortensen and Leo Wolpert all at the same table. Scotty Nguyen. Spotted some local players and dealers. But after a while, I noticed that none of my updates were getting onto the site. So I had to get that technical issue fixed, but by then hand histories I’d posted were rather stale. Overall, not a great start for my day. A day that started at 4pm.

Eventually, tables started to break and I was moved into the Pavilion Room with the rest of the Flight D reporters. Got a little section, got told who to cover (Kessler), and kept on the move, trying to work on my chip-counting skills and face memory. Why can’t we put numbers on the players like they do for marathon runners?

The day wrapped up sometime around 3am and I headed back to the house. More folks are arriving, the rooms are full, there was someone sleeping on the living room floor. I collapsed and got ready to do the whole thing again (hopefully, without the hitches) tomorrow (today?)

W-Day Plus 1: Memories


No exhaustive post today. I’m not exhausted, either, after getting my first good night’s rest since leaving Portland.

Didn’t do much in the early part of the day. I had been scheduled to cover the first day of the Colossus, but due to a couple of live reporters wanting to play the Casino Employees event, that went on my ticket, so I had about 36 hours until my next event, the afternoon flight of the second day of entries.

I did head over to a computer shop here in town to get some RAM for my trusty MacBook. I’d intended to upgrade the memory for a while. It’s one of the late 2008 aluminum-body models that came with 2GB of RAM, which was perfectly fine a couple of years ago, when I started to do some 3D modeling in Cinema 4D for a Civil War battlefield visitor’s center, but the newer operation system upgrades have made it grind to a halt just opening Safari. A very nice young tech named Jessica at Century 23 here in Vegas had the 4GB modules I needed in stock and popped them in for me in just a few minutes.

Went back to the house, rested for a while, then headed out to the Venetian for the 7pm bounty tournament (Deepstack Extravaganza #14). I chipped up quickly, knocked out an angry old man who was like a tall version of Portland’s Sleepy Don, took another bounty from a kid with a Muckleshoot cap, then lost a race against a female player from Portland, and doubled up another player when I called his all-in with [ah th] on a [qx tx 6x] board. He showed [kx kx], I got an ace on the turn, then the jack on the river took a big chunk of my chips. My final downfall was when I shoved [kc 9s] from the button and [qx jx] called all in with a shorter stack from the small blind. I had him covered by 600 chips at 800/1.6K/200, he caught a jack on the flop and stayed ahead. I went out the next hand.

Thought I might try my hand at the 1/2 Big O game. There was a seat open and I was able to sit without waiting. I won a little hand that put me ahead after twenty minutes of folding and paying blinds, making top and bottom pair on the flop, then top two pair on the turn and a full house on the river. Then:

Of course, the guy who was driving the action on the flop lost everything, too. Big O is The Devil’s Game.

Headed home after managing to turn a partial loss into a total loss. Slept like a baby in the A/C. Off to cover the second day of the Colossus today!

W-Day: Frying Pan


It was still a little warm back art the house with the A/C malfunctioning. And by “a little warm,” I mean that between trying to get everything settled in the past couple of days, playing at the Venetian into the early hours of the morning the other day, and a bit of excitement at my first day of live reporting, I’ve been operating on about three-and-a-half hours of sleep each night since I left Portland.

Since I woke up early, I got myself together and headed to the Rio. The early bird gets the nearby parking spot. The MutantMobile (aka a baller 1998 Ford Escort wagon). I set up my stuff in the live reporting office and saw that “Jammin'” Jay Zeman was planning to fortify himself along with some friends in the Hash House a Go Go down the hall. So I trekked over and was scanning one section of the restaurant when Angela Jordison hailed me from one of the benches near the entrance where she was also waiting for Jay. We chatted about her dinner the night before with a group that included Allen Kessler and the owner of the Lotus of Siam restaurant, among others. And we speculated on where Jay was, as the hour drew nearer to the time I had to go to work. Eventually, she made another pass through the restaurant, and not seeing Jay, walked down to the tournament area with me.

My first post ever as a live reporter was a lucky catch. Just a few hands into the tournament, I was watching a table when a young man from Mississippi won a pot for nearly half the starting stack with quad nines. Then I ran into Jay, who pointed me to one of the players at his table who’d busted another player’s aces on the first hand, knocking him out and doubling up.

It was a long first day, though, and I made my share of mistakes as we covered 20 half-hour levels. By the end, after an editor pointed out to me that I’d tried to color up a hand with some analysis that was completely wrong because I mentally swapped the cards the players were holding, I was happy enough to be assigned to these important posts:

level19Action ended at about midnight and we scurried around to all of the tables to get the chip tallies of the last 23 (of 731) players. A bit of confusion when we were trying to figure out the count for a player we appeared to have missed. I had a name that was completely different from the missing player, and another reporter had made the same mistake transcribing their last name. Not writing it down wrong like me, but writing it down wrong exactly the same as I had. We sorted it out.

Went back to the house and sat out back in the “cool” Las Vegas evening. The pool’s ready to go! And despite the fact that I haven’t been in the water for a long time, I somehow had two pairs of trunks that looked like the right size in the drawer at home.

W-Day Minus 1: Orientation


Yeah, that’s the Amazon Room in the Rio Convention Center, and while it looks like it’s empty, on the far side of the room are the 500+ entrants in the first $235 Daily Deepstack of the series, which had a prize pool of nearly $100,000 (I’m changing up my notation so I don’t have to switch back and forth between what I’ve used for the blog in years past and what I’ll have to do as a live reporter for the series.

I had started the W-Day countdown referencing the series rather than my first day of coverage, but due to a scheduling change because one of the other reporters wanted to play in the Canino Employees event, I’m going to be covering that instead of having a day off after our orientation today.

Lots of stuff to cover about not upsetting players, how to get hands correct, how not to upset players, how to bring a wide variety of voices into a unified style, and stuff about not upsetting players.

I haven’t done a day of live reporting standing on my feet scribbling notes and running back to write them up yet and I’m already feeling pretty old. People are laughing at how dated one of my superiors’ My LIttle Pony reference is, and that wasn’t even a thing until I was well into adulthood.

Still, everyone’s excited because we’ve got one of the best jobs in the shop. Everyone I’ve talked to loves poker and I suspect most of them—like myself—love to write, so actually getting paid to write about poker is worth what are sure to be some long grueling hours over the next couple of months. I mean, I’ve been doing it for free or—in the case of PokerNews—less than $1 per hour considering the amount of time I’ve put into some of the articles I wrote for them. I mean, I would have written the stuff anyway, it’s just that hardly anyone would have seen it.

Nice post-orientation mixer with the live reporting gang with some delicious Southeast Asian-influenced food (garden rolls with peanut sauce, pot stickers, stuffed mushrooms). There were some yummy-looking fruit cocktails in tall glasses that I thought were just decorative pieces until I saw that a couple of them were gone and looked closer, but by then it was time to head back to the ranch and get some sleep before covering the first bracelet event of the summer.