This isn't going to involve a whole lot in the way of chronological order, more like snapshots and highlight reel stuff.
For those of you who didn't meet him, Suzy and I brought along Suzy's father on this trip - his first to Vegas. The plan is that we bring somebody along for Suzy to trek through casinos with while I play poker all day, thus increasing the level of matrimonial harmony. It mostly worked.
I'm gonna start by talking about the tournament. After the summer debacle at the Orleans, where the Summer Classic was turned into a Turbo tournament by the dickcheese tournament director at the Orleans poker room (where I will never play again, so help me Jebus) I was a little concerned abut herding 100+ kittens into the Venetian poker room for what looked to be the largest WPBT tourney ever.
I needn't have worried. The staff at the Venetian were excellent, the tournament directors had it all under control and processed everyone quickly, and when the 75/150 blind level hit, the last tiny details that I had been concerned with was covered - they took our structure and made it happen. Miami Don got up and came over to my table at that point to shake my hand for putting in the 75/150 level to give more play early, which was my whole point. Admittedly, we gave up the 100/200 level without antes, but to me going 75/150 then 100/200/25 was a lesser jump than 50/100 then 100/200 then 100/200/25.
Basically when I was given the opportunity to tweak the structure, I made every effort to include as much early play as possible. I knew the event was going to run 8+ hours, and figured that if I ran true to form, I'd only manage about 5 of those hours, so I wanted to make sure I got as much out of the tourney as possible. And that would by extension benefit everyone else, but I did it for me. I've never cashed in a blogger tournament before, live or online, so I figured buying tickets to Blue Man Group for 10PM Saturday was safer than betting the Pats to cover on Sunday.
You didn't take the Steelers, did you?
Well, at 9:35 we broke down to 2 tables after restructuring the prize pool to pay top 20 instead of top 9, and I sold my BMG ticket to Warbucks, since I was in decent chip position and wanted to win the fucker at that point. And yes, I had officially lost the albatross of never cashing in a blogger tournament by making the money. Going into the event my goal had been to make it through the first break, and not be the first of my home game crew to go busto. By the time we got to the money I had long outlasted any of my Charlotte posse, and I said to someone at the table, "Fuck the money, I want the flag."
DrChako had sent, via TheWife (who totally needs to rename herself TheHotWife), a flag that had flown over Camp Connor in Iraq, with a note that said "You are what I'm fighting for." When the final table was in range and I had chips, I wanted the flag.
Of course, by now you all know that it was not to be, as The Rooster, cagey mofo that he is, took it down. I went out somewhere around 13th or 14th, collected my winnings (which amounted to my buy-in back, which I was happy with more for what it symbolized than for the $135) and went on my merry way. Actually, I went to the Noodle Bar with Joe Speaker and we had what must have been the greatest meal of all time. Quite possibly because we hadn't eaten for over 8 hours and both of us were feeling the Vegas crud coming on, the noodles and green tea were frickin' fantastic. And having the chance to eat a quiet meal with one of my favorite writers didn't suck either.
So, there was poker played. I even played some of it. I played squeaky-tight in the early rounds, following a strategy in the first few levels of "win a pot, take a walk." I tend to get too loose early in tournaments, and there was no need in this one, with 6,000 starting chips and 25/50 blinds. So I'd look at my cards, fold, walk around. Or I'd look at my cards, play the hand, scoop a few chips, and take a walk. It worked out okay, and I was just barely over the starting stack at the first break.
So I had 6,050 chips when the level changed to 100/200/25, giving me an M of healthy. I picked up a few pots here and there, but nothing real big until I got moved to my third table of the day. I'm sitting there with Astin, CK, Miami Don and a bunch of others when I pick up the Asian Jew. By this time my stack is starting to look puny, but I have position on CK and Change100, both of whom have bigger stacks. It folds around to Astin, who raises. I shove, he thinks about it for a minute, and just as I think he's folding, he says "since you organized all this, I'll donate." and calls with AT.
Fuck. "I'm doomed. This is exactly how I went out in the summer. The 10's coming."
But history does not repeat itself, and I double through Astin. Then I have chips, and can make a few moves. But I try to stay tight and only apply pressure when it's folded to me in late position or when I have big hands. It doesn't take long before I'm moved again, this time to a table with Jordan, one of Jordan's friends, Schecky, KuroKitty and Blinders. Blinders has a mountain of chips, and my only good feeling is that he's on my right elbow, so I can stay out of his way unless I decide to tangle with him.
I've only been at the table a couple of hands when Jordan's friend raised preflop, it folded around to me and I find AK in late position. I push over the top, not really wanting a call, and certainly not wanting it to be with pocket 10s. But he does, and I sweat the board til the river brings my King. I think at that point I say something about being glad it's a 7-card game. I run into TT-AK again later, this time with me holding the tens, and I fade the AK for another big pot. Then I get moved again, this time to the position that would be my demise.
Let's go ahead and lay it out there that I love the G-Vegas boys. They've got game (except maybe for TheMark, who is this year's edition of Gigli), and I get a kick out of playing with all of them. I also know that they are all, without exception, better poker players than me. So it was with great glee when I got moved to the seat on Otis' left elbow. Because if I have to play someone who's better than me, I need position. So of course, when I make it to my 5th table of the day, I get moved right back next to Otis. On his right elbow. Just where I did not want to be.
But I still had chips, and I still made moves, hit flops and was able to get away from hands. At one point after going all in over the top of my preflop raise again, Otis muttered to me "stop making good laydowns when you're getting 2-1." I took it as the compliment it was meant to be, and tried not to stop making good laydowns. Finally we made a deal to restructure the payouts to pay top 20, because we'd been stalled at 23 for a while and everyone was playing super-tight trying to find the right spots to make a move to get to the final table. Once we set the payout at 20, it only took moments for the bubble to burst, with Columbo on a micro-stack sweating missing his flight the whole way.
As soon as the bubble burst, Columbo got on the phone to the airline and rebooked himself on a later flight, as Mrs. Columbo headed to the airport without him. Now Columbo had a mission - to finish high enough in the money to cover the cost of rebooking his ticket. His stack went all in more times than a jelly dong at a porn convention, but he did a good job of making his way to the final table.
Me? Oh, yeah. When we got reshuffled to two tables, I thought I'd be able to make some moves, except for one dude. Otis. On my left elbow. Again. So when the stacks got small relative to the blinds, I shoved with Presto. Otis called with Queens. The appropriate things happened, Queens held up, and I had cashed in my first ever blogger event. Interestingly enough, I felt like I played far better poker last winter, but suffered a brutal beat to cripple me. I played well in this event, and I was thrilled to make the money. I had a blast, and thought the folks at the Venetian did a fantastic job herding all the cats, even if there was one bitchy cocktail waitress that put Don on tilt.
Oh, and I busted at 9:50 PM, so I coulda made the show. But I needed food desperately, and Jim had never seen Blue Man before, so it was great that he took the ticket.