As I mentioned in the previous post I think it’d be a fun idea to list out what I’ve learned on this trip. So without further adieu, I bring you “Shit you learn by going around the world in 90 days”:
1. Sleeping on planes will never be comfortable, unless you can afford first class, which unless you have roughly $15,000 to spend on every long flight you take you can’t. Instead, you get to sleep in the luxury that is a singular degree of decline in the economy seats, insuring that one day you’ll be spending $15,000 at a chiropractor.
2. Europe is expensive. There’s no joke here, Europe is just expensive as hell.
3. Turkey has a very low divorce rate. This is obviously because of the system of arranged marriage.
4. There is no such thing as a Venetian. Everyone in Venice is a tourist.
5. There is no risk of live poker drying up in the near future.
The 90th day is finally upon me. A full three months of going to tournaments around the world and trying to write up every day of my life. Obviously, I’m a little tired. When I look back at what I’ve accomplished over three months I feel mostly proud, both of my work on and off the felt.
I feel like the blog has mostly been a success, although my falling behind by double digit days during some periods in the trip is a disappointment. I think the blog works more successfully on the reporting angle when the information is very recent, but to be honest if I forced myself to write up my day as soon as I busted each tournament I would’ve ended up killing myself. I’ve found trying to find something interesting and clever to blog about every day is actually quite difficult, as many days are kind of ordinary or bland. Also, since tightening up in live poker a little bit I think the hand histories themselves are somewhat less interesting, though I think the adjustments I’ve made are very much for the better in terms of my equity in the tournaments.
Celina and I wake up around 2pm without the slightest disturbance from the hotel. I’m fairly certain the Chinese version of the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign hanging on my door translates to “Get the fuck out of here. That means you house keeping.”
We leave the hotel in the evening after grabbing dinner and show up at the airport early. The airport staff has some problem about my passport and some kind of glitch about my not being allowed in the country, likely a left over from my ban two years ago. Celina does her best to translate the issue between us, and after half an hour of waiting around they clear everything up and let us advance.
The live poker is over for a time now. All that’s left is to enjoy a day in Macau hanging out in the spa and browsing my various websites.
Spending all day in the spa is the kind of activity you can get used to, if not addicted to. I almost feel bad sitting here while people wait on me and give me massages, but then I remember how awesome it is. After three months of non stop travel spending a few days doing nothing but relaxing is exactly what the doctor ordered.
The upcoming Victorian Poker Championships looks very promising. It’s a surprisingly high stakes series of tournaments, with two 10k tournaments, a 5k PLO, an $1,100 six max event, and the $3,000 main event. The best part about the series though, is for all the high stakes action it doesn’t really attract any international talent. A few online players will be there, as well as the best of the live poker players in Australia, but no major names either live or online will be there to my knowledge. I’m not so sure about the $5,200 PLO since I’m fairly bad and nity in the game, but I’ll play everything else.
I wake up a little before 11am, not bad given how late I got to bed and the fact that I knew I’d be jet lagged to the point that sleeping in would be difficult. I get dressed and eat one of the breakfast bars Kyle gave me in a gift basket. There’s a deep stacked tournament in the poker room at 12:30 that I have assurances will end before the 7pm start of the Red Dragon Macau Cup main event.
I go down to the poker room and play the event but wind up busting out early after being mostly card dead and cramming an open-ended straight flush draw on the turn which gets called by a made straight and misses.
For the afternoon I naturally hit the spa and find the Internet inside almost unworkably slow. I kill some time watching TV and taking foot and head massages. The later is heavily underrated.
In the evening I show up back to the poker room for the Red Dragon event. The event starts us with 5,000 chips at 25/50 blinds and 40 minute levels. It winds up being a pretty small field of 31, though that seems to be roughly what Jeffrey Haas was expecting.
When we arrive at the hotel the front desk does not have our reservation. It takes a while for them to call up to the poker room and sort everything out while we sit in the lobby reeking of 30 plus hours spent on planes and in airports.
We get up to the room and I find it’s currently 10am. I don’t quite feel like sleeping anymore so I go down to get some lunch then try and find the poker room. We’re in the same hotel as last November and while the poker tables on the main casino floor are all still there with posters of various players, there is no actual poker in sight. I go back to the room and tell Celina I’ll be hitting the spa with the laptop to do some writing.
Easily my favorite part about a visit to Macau is the time spent in the spa. The entire thing is set up to relax you and put you in a total state of rest slash apathy. Going in for multiple massages, food, and time spent hanging in the lounge room with a recliner that has TV and computer access for several hours will end up costing something like $60 US. Despite being a city similar to Vegas in the sense that it’s full of casinos and little else, Macau is mostly lacking in the distractions and lifestyle of Vegas, with a much higher focus on the actual gambling. As a result, when you spend day after day hanging in the spa you never really feel like you’re missing out.
The people living in the normal world have a huge problem with anyone attempting to sleep beyond 11am. Being able to sleep to this hour is so strange, so inconceivable to them, that they simply won’t tolerate it.
Despite calling the hotel desk the night before and telling them I won’t need a wake up all until 2pm (and double checking that this was cool) the hotel manages to have two phone calls and three knocks on the door previous to the 2pm call. When the call finally arrives I call down to the desk to inform them I’ll be checking out around 2:30pm. They seem less than pleased.
We grab lunch at the club then Kyle and Su give us a ride over to the airport. Our first flight is only 45 minutes long over to LA, but after that it’s a five hour wait in LAX until our next flight. I plug the computer in at a bar and play video games for the duration until Celina and I grab some food at the food court.
The flight to Macau is on a large two story jet where Celina and I have a three seat row to ourselves. For the first couple of hours I continue my video games on the computer then watch ‘21’ on the screen in front of me. The film version is like taking the Hollywoodesque retarded liberties that the book took with the story then injecting them with steroids and adding Kevin Spacey in the mix in a desperate attempt to regain sensibility.
With it being our last day in Fresno and having been out until 4am last night we spend a low key day around the casino and I do some writing work.
With little to talk about in this entry I guess it’s a good opportunity for some reflection as the blog begins to near its end. I’m not sure I’ve mentioned it before, but Tilt and I have agreed to a brief extension that will cover the few days I’m going to Macau for the Macau Cup then back home to Melbourne for the Victorian Poker Championship. The Vic Champs ends on August 19th, but that’s assuming I make it to the final table of the main event, an event which should have roughly 400 players.
That means there’ll still be entries in this blog for another few weeks. And after that? Well it turns out I actually won’t get a major break from live poker for a long while. Beyond the Vic Champs, Celina and I have to return to Macau on August 24 for the APT $5,000 event and the APPT $3,200 and $19,000 events, which run until our departure on September 10th. Celina has been sponsored with a full package in each APPT event at this point, so I doubt I’ll be skipping them. After Macau there’s the Seoul event on September 24th, the APPT New Zealand in early October, then Pokernews Cup in mid October, and then finally a considerable break from live poker (though who knows when the APT will decide the dates of their next event, as they still intend on having ones in the Philippines and Singapore).
Seeing as it’s Sunday and I’m finally in the right time zone to play every tournament I’ve decided to play all day today. The casino is pretty quiet on a Sunday and everyone seems a bit busy, so it’s fitting that I just zone out in front of the computer for 10 hours.
Ten hours of grinding later I’ve busted out of every tournament without a single cash, a phenomenal performance if I may say so. When I’ve finished Su drives Celina and I over to a local Indian restaurant because Indian food is obviously the greatest accomplishment in the history of man. After that it’s more karaoke in the bar, but Kyle decides to call it an early night this time.
The next morning we set off to see the sequoia trees with our friends Rick and Erin driving the van. They’re about an hour outside of town, far up in the mountains of California. The trees truly are massive, and even though I’m not really the outdoors type it’s hard not to marvel at what is clearly one of nature’s wonders. When we get back to Fresno I describe the experience to Kyle as “Those are some big fucking trees man.”
As for tonight, Kyle and Su have arranged my only direct request of the trip, to see the new Batman movie. Even though we’ve already gotten tickets there’s a long line out the IMAX theatre, and we wind up waiting about 20 minutes to get in. Oh man is it worth the wait, that movie is so awesome. I know many people are saying that this performance truly exemplifies why it’s a shame that Heath Ledger died, but to be honest you never even see Ledger in the whole movie. Not only is he caked in make up as the joker for the whole film, but the transformation into the character is so complete, so thorough, that it never occurs to you that you’re watching a fresh faced Australian guy playing a role. In this film you’re watching Ledger transform into a psychopath.
As part of the massive amount of hospitality Kyle is showing Celina and I, he has arranged for us to have a massage over at a local spa at 11:30am. Naturally we have some trouble waking up at such an hour and make it over 15 minutes late, but nobody at the spa seems too pissed.
I spend the afternoon in Kyle’s office hijacking his computer and writing. Kyle hangs out for a while and spends time elaborating on all the intricacies of the card room/casino industry, which is pretty fascinating stuff. It’s a sort of juggling act of responsibility. The title of boss means he has to be constantly thinking about the bottom line and the efficiency of the operation, but the work environment of the casino means it’s occasionally necessarily for him to transform into a stripper pole on karaoke night.
In the evening the tournament is having a $50 tournament which I tell Kyle that Celina and I will play. He puts a $50 bounty on both of us which forever destroys any chance of my running a bluff. The tournament naturally has a very fast structure but I manage to run good and come into the final table with a medium stack (which is about 9 BB’s.) A few hands into the final table I peek down at JJ and open shove. I get called by KQ and TT, and when the KQ makes a boat my tournament is over, though I did manage to break even for Celina and myself.
Sleep deprivation sucks. Having stayed out until nearly 4am celebrating with Sirwatts and Korean BBQ (they didn’t even finish playing until about 2am) our noon check out time from the house feels much too early. I’d called one of the owners a couple days ago about pushing it back to the afternoon but he said noon was the absolute latest. Celina and I haven’t even packed yet, meaning when the owner arrives I tell him “We just need to spend a few minutes to finish packing” then proceed to take over half an hour.
We catch a cab to the airport and kill some time in the terminal before our flight to Fresno. The flight is on one of those small planes that you can’t even stand up straight in and has exposed propellers, the type that sway in the wind so much you wonder how it even stays airborne.
At the airport my friend Kyle from www.tworags.com comes to pick us up with his hostess Su and they take us over to his casino/card room in downtown Fresno, ‘Club One’. He checks us into the hotel next door then we head out for Korean food. There truly is no such thing as too much Korean food.
I first met Mike ‘Sirwatts’ Watson at the beginning of the 2007 WSOP. He and Stevepa hadn’t been able to get into their place that night and needed to crash somewhere else and wondered if I could accommodate them in my room. When I met Watts he was so quiet I didn’t even hear or realize who he was the first time we spoke. I knew of him from his 2+2 posting, tournament scores, and the fact that one day while browsing through the highest stakes games on Full Tilt I saw him sitting at 200/400 and asked Timex if it was the same Sirwatts. It turns out Timex had bought a large chunk of Watts to short stack and take shots at the soft game, which initially went quite well but due to unfortunate run ins with David Benyamine ended up being a mostly break even endeavor.
We ended up hanging out the majority of our days at the last WSOP, often grabbing a swim at his condo’s pool after our play was done. Among other things, we shared having a massively losing summer in common and spent a ton of time discussing strategy. Watts is smarter than his introverted and modest nature lets on and even though the city of Waterloo has produced an absurd amount of poker talent I’ve heard many people say they think Watts will be the best of the lot in years to come. As I’ve written before, Watts is restrained and mild tempered to the point that I think if I one day walked up to him and said “Hello Watts!” then punched him square in the face he’d stare at me in confusion and ask calmly “What’d you do that for?”
I told Watts I’d meet him at the Bellagio café around 2:30pm today. For the first time in a while I have enormous trouble getting a cab and I don’t actually arrive at the restaurant until well past 3pm, with the final table starting at 5pm. Watts is sitting with Iweargoggles and his girlfriend, who are on their way out. After that I order some pancakes and offer to flip Watts for the bill. Of course he loses.
It’s my first true off day in a long time. Even with the other off days I had to be very mindful of the fact that I’d be playing a day or two later and couldn’t sleep until whenever the hell I pleased and screw up my schedule.
The big news of the day is (besides Sirwatts making an increasingly deep run in the Bellagio $15k) is the Tiffany Michelle ‘scandal’, if that’s the right word. The controversy goes that as Tiffany went deeper and deeper into the main she naturally gained a large amount of attention, being a young and attractive female with many friends in the industry. All the various poker sites came calling with offers for her to wear a patch during the ESPN coverage and although I have no idea as to the details or offers it’s safe to say she likely had her pick of who she wanted to represent. Unfortunately for everyone, Tiffany chose a certain not-to-be-named poker site currently involved in a scandal.
So here we are, watching what should be a great moment in poker (an attractive girl making a run in the main all over TV, which sounds a little absurd but is clearly good for the game) turn into a massive fucking train wreck. I’ve reading up on the issue quite a bit, including the thoughts and comments in Dr. Pauly’s blog, who not only has quite a bit of personal experience with Tiffany, but also a front row seat to watch the madness unfold. In the end I agree with his sentiments, I mostly feel depressed and disgusted. Tiffany could have picked any site but the one she did and this wouldn’t have happened. So the only real conclusion I can come to is that she’s made her own bed and now she has to lie in it. I’m almost a little happy to see the reaction be so massively negative towards her decision, since this is an industry where people mostly get away with their greedy and unethical choices without any real consequences. That everyone came together to voice a communal “FUCK YOU Tiffany” is in a strange way, inspiring. It makes me think there just might be more to this game than ‘take the money and run’.
In the morning, Watts and I order a cab to the Bellagio. Yet again, Watts loses the flip for the ride and has to dish out the 25 bucks. The starting field today has been reduced to 125 players with 100 paying, and my 106,000 chip stack leaves me in decent but not awesome position to make a run at both cashing and going deeper.
My starting table is not exactly ideal for said run. Almost every player at the table is a known player, including Ike Haxton, Todd Brunson, Fatal Error, John Gale, Apestyles and Glen Chorny. The cards get in the air at noon with the blinds starting at 1,200/2,400 with 300 ante.
On the cab ride to the Bellagio, Sirwatts and I discuss our Day One and our table draw for the day.
“Man I’m so pissed I lost a third of my stack in the last 20 minutes of the day.”
“Nah you’ll be fine Watts, just gaaaaaaaambol like me. Besides, I swapped 5% with you and I have mega swap run good. Do you have any idea what I’m up lifetime in swaps? Like $35,000 or something.”
“Maybe you just suck.”
“Oh for sure, but you’re gonna win either way. Pretty sure I’m fucked though, I just don’t have the dueness anymore.”
At the Bellagio, I find my way over to my seat and have a look around. I have one of the largest stacks on the table, but I do not have a soft draw. There are a number of good online players, including CrazyMarco and Jason Mercier, who is sitting on my direct left. On the first hand, I peek down at A-A in the SB and it folds around to me. I raise and Jason calls. The flop comes ragged and when I bet he quickly folds. I show the A-A and tell everyone “Well that’s enough excitement for me today. I’m out of here.”
With an off day from the Bellagio tournament and a day full of huge guarantees online, there is no way I could pass up playing on the computer. I wake up at 1PM and fire up as many tables as possible, then throw on my headphones and completely zone out.
I was wise to arrange a house with a group of guys who are as big (if not bigger) workaholics as I am, and with the huge Sunday guarantees, there’s no chance anyone in the house would skip playing today. Unfortunately, I only have the laptop to work with, so the most tables I can realistically play is 10, and even that is a major bitch to manage on the one screen. Because of the massive multi-tabling and overlap, I’m forced to play pretty straight forward all day, trying to keep things as automatic as possible.
By the end of the day, I’ve made one final table, a $75 buy-in $17,500 guarantee tournament that due to it being Sunday, has a nearly $12,000 first prize. I come into the final table second in chips and pretty much coast into six-handed in second, a little behind the chip leader. I haven’t been very aggressive or out of line when the largest hand of the day comes up:
The Bellagio Cup IV $15,000 Main Event is about as tough as a live tournament gets. The vast majority of good players have busted the WSOP Main Event by now and almost every major online tournament player either has the backing or the roll to go ahead and take one more shot before leaving Vegas. Having talked to other online players before the event, playing on Saturday is clearly the favored day, leaving the opportunity to play online for huge prize pools on Sunday, or in my case, go play the Venetian $5,000.
Sirwatts and I are the only ones playing from the house. We catch a cab in the morning and for the seventh time straight, Sirwatts loses the flip to pay for the cab. Having run so bad this Summer, and really for the last year in live poker, I can’t get the idea out of my head that Watts is going to do something big.
“Hey Watts, wanna swap 5%?”
“Sucker, I already know you’re gonna win. You just threw away 5%.”
“I’m telling you Watts, dueness and all. DUENESS!”