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Around the World in 90 Days: Days 55-72

Bond18 Days 71-72

Things are much quieter now. More and more people are leaving Las Vegas having busted out of the Main, and those left are just hanging around playing a few days of online tournaments then heading out shortly.

Over at the World Series, it’s the bubble day and only Sirwatts is still in from our house. Everyone else is at home hanging out and making arrangements to get out of town. At the moment, I’m the only person in the house planning on playing the Bellagio $15,000, though if Watts busts, he’ll almost certainly be playing.

Today is pretty uneventful. I spend most of my time doing catch up writing, then going out to eat and playing Nintendo Wii with housemates. Watts comes home early, having busted before making the money, leaving our entire house out. He tells me he’s definitely going to play the Bellagio $15,000 and the house discusses which day we should play.

While browsing 2+2, I find out Jimmy “Gobboboy” Fricke has made the final table of the Bellagio $5,000 preliminary event, which has a first prize over $440,000, well enough to get him out of make up. I follow his progress all day until he winds up the winner, having made no deal because he held on to a commanding chip lead for the majority of the final table. I call him up to congratulate him and invite him over to the house to hang out.


Days 69-70

As always, I spend my day off relaxing around my pool and firing up the grill, then trying my best to catch up on some writing despite all the distractions. Over two months into my trip and I can see and feel myself getting increasingly out of shape, a result of the Vegas diet of huge but occasional meals, low sleep, almost zero exercise, and doing nothing but sitting in a chair and doing math problems. When I get back to Melbourne the first thing I’ll do is hire a personal trainer and get very strict with my diet to try and repair the damage this trip has done to my health. Until then I’m just going to try and be a bit more mindful about reducing junk food and getting a little more sleep, which even living well off the strip, proves hard to do in Las Vegas. With day two starting tomorrow, I’m aiming for eight hours tonight.

In the morning, nearly the entire house sets out towards the Rio. Nath, Grafyx, LearnedfromTV, and me are all playing our Day Twos today, so I don’t have to worry about ordering a taxi. I checked my Day Two table draw last night and found two recognizable names; Howard Lederer and Jon Robert Bellande. I’ve played with Bellande a bit before during a $5,000 mixed event in 2007 where he massively donked his stack to me, but have never played with Lederer before.

At the Rio I make my way through the massive crowd to my seat in the Amazon room. I rip open my bag, stack up my chips, then survey the table. Outside Bellande and Lederer, all the players are unknown and the majority of them look more inexperienced, though there are a couple of young guys who seem to have a pretty good idea of things. Play restarts at the 250/500 level, and my 35,000 chip stack gives me almost 60 BBs. Almost immediately, I’m involved:


Day 68

Grafyx and I get to the Bellagio about 15 minutes before the start of the $5,000 preliminary event. We stroll up to the cashier and find a massive line waiting for us, insuring that we’re going to be a few minutes late for the event. Not only is there a line, but I need to take money out which I’ve put on deposit after having won the $3,000, and I know that’s going to take even longer. The biggest problem though is that the lines are full of Internet players (who show up late much, much more than recreational players) and if we register late, it’s almost guaranteed I’ll be jammed on a table with several of them.

By the time I get my money out and get bought in, I’m taken to a new table and the tournament is 10 minutes in. My decision to sleep an extra 20 minutes and risk showing up late turns out to be a terrible one when I face a table line up of Rekrul, ELKY, and lil’hold’em.

I met Lil for the first time the other day at the Bellagio. I wasn’t quite sure how he’d react to me after having read the “MTT fight night” I wrote earlier in this trip and put on pocketfives and 2+2. He never brought it up and we chatted for a while about various live pros and how hilariously awful their stack size leaks are. Overall, he seemed like a pretty chill guy who likely just gets overly excited and agitated while playing online.


Day 67

Last year I was anything but excited for the Main Event. Having gotten slaughtered all summer and run almost as poorly as I played back then, I approached the Main with an impending sense of doom. This year, things are entirely different. I’m still playing bad now and then, but I’m running amazingly well. This summer in Vegas I’ve cashed six times, made three final tables, and actually won a live tournament. I’ve decided to play Day 1D, which falls on Sunday, figuring that many of the good online players will have played earlier days since they don’t want to skip the Sunday tournaments.

I find my seat in the Amazon room and take my seat at a table full of unfamiliar faces; looks like I’m running good already. There are a few young players at the table, but how capable they are has yet to be determined. The tournament starts us with 20,000 in chips at 50/100 blinds with two hour levels and every imaginable level increment.

The play on the table in the early rounds is pretty tight weak. There’s surprisingly not much limping going on, but there’s also not a ton of aggressive play post flop. Nobody on the table seems especially spewy or entirely novice, and I think with people
normally having the option of keeping the $10,000 instead of playing in the WSOP, this year’s (and future years’) tournament will be a little tougher, though it should still be the softest $10,000 tournament in the world.


Day 66

Thanks to drinking several glasses of water, I do not have the vicious hangover I should today. I do not know how much I drank last night (it wasn’t that much), but it was enough to fuck up a stomach as weak as mine.

I have today off before I play in the WSOP Main Event. Everyone in the poker world talks about the World Series Main like it’s the end all of tournaments, and I am not a member of that thought process. To me, the WSOP main is just another tournament, albeit with an incredible structure and massive field filled with god awful players. The fact that the winner of this one tournament is crowned a poker champion and made into a minor celebrity for the rest of his life is pretty absurd, especially considering nobody very good at poker has won it since poker hit the boom years (yes I know, many consider Raymer and Hachem good, but at the time they won they were fairly raw tournament players.) That two complete nobodies who are more or less useless on the marketing side of things have won in the last two years does even more to diffuse the importance of this one tournament, yet whoever wins it this year will yet again be thrown into the spotlight and expected to represent poker as a whole.

I grabbed a copy of Bluff magazine at the Rio the other day. I was glancing through the rankings of the tournament player of the year and, at this point, those things make me entirely disgusted in live poker as a whole. The problem with live poker in general is that the whole community is results oriented and nobody gives a shit about the actual quality of a player, and even worse, his quality as a person. In first place in the rankings is Men “The Master” (and I cannot emphasize “The Master” with enough irony simply in text) Nguyen, who not only is an entirely average tournament poker player, but is a well known scum bag and fairly well established cheat. The fact that this man is celebrated as an excellent player demonstrates everything that is wrong with live poker.


Day 65

The night before my previous final table, I slept like a baby. Unfortunately, last night, I didn’t have as much luck. I woke up a couple times and, due to anticipation, had some trouble falling back asleep. Still, I feel mostly well going into today, but most of all, just don’t want to do something retarded and blow it like I usually do in these kind of spots.

Tom gives Celina and me a ride to the Bellagio. A number of people have come out to watch the final table, not to mention several more who are playing today’s $5,000 No-Limit tournament. I’ve gotten lucky with the seating arrangements, having Keith with the other large stack on my immediate right, and pretty tight players on my left. They have the final table on a raised area, but nowhere for spectators to sit, so unfortunately, the good people who came out to support have to stand for the whole thing. Play
gets underway with about 20 minutes of the 2,000/4,000 level left on the clock.


Day 64

I first fell in love with the Bellagio during last year’s Bellagio Cup III. Not only is the hotel such a visual pleasure to walk through, but the Fontana Lounge where they put the tournaments is roomy and comfortable, in the direct center of the hotel overlooking the fountains. Also, the Bellagio Cup was the only place where I had even the slightest taste of success, finishing eighth in a $2,000 pre-lim for something like $8,000 and change.

This year’s schedule has been vastly reduced after the turn out for last year wasn’t as big as hoped. The $3,000 I’m playing today is the second pre-lim, and the starting stacks have been increased to triple the buy-in. Because of the cab being very slow to get here, Sirwatts and I are about 20 minutes late. That’s OK, I suck with deep stacks anyway. When we finally get seated, I look around at a table of unknowns.

The very first hand I raise K-To on the HJ, get re-raised and fold. I get involved in the very next hand:


Day 63

Today’s event at the WSOP is the $1,500 Shoot-Out Limit event, the only format in which Limit can be slightly interesting. For something like the fourth time this WSOP, I’m seated at a starting table with Marco Traniello and the majority of the rest are entirely unknown faces, except for fellow Full Tilt Poker blogger Michael Craig across the table. I introduce myself and tell him I work for Tilt as well, but he does not seem to know who I am. That’s OK, I don’t have the time to read anyone else’s stuff during the series either.

As I’ve said before, my Limit game is pretty rusty, but I’ve talked enough with some very good players during the series that I think I’m starting to get the hang of it again. We start with 3,000 chips and the table is a winner-take-all format. In Limit tournaments at the WSOP you have to play sort of nitty to peoples’ aggression, as their unfamiliarity with Limit means its way less likely they’ll be getting out of line.


Days 60-62

As a result of the two hour time zone jump from Vegas to Milwaukee coupled with the late arrival of our flight, I wake up around 3:30PM with the party at 4PM. I scramble to get myself and Celina together before my parents arrive. Previous to this summer I hadn’t seen my immediate family in about a year, and depending on who we’re talking about in the extended family, it’s somewhere in the area of one to two years.

Since moving to Australia, I haven’t really been the most available family member or friend for that matter. Outside my parents I don’t really email anyone regularly, I don’t call, and I’ve stopped using social networking sites like Facebook. Even though I have most people on my AIM list, there’s pretty little to talk about when we have entirely different lives and most of the time I’m online I’ve got eight tables in front of me and can’t talk anyway. The last time I lived in the United States for a sustained amount of time that wasn’t in Las Vegas was 18 months ago, and even that was only for a few months after having already been away for more than a year. The last time I was really around, available, and involved with peoples’ lives was after I finished my sophomore year of college at age 20, and I’m 23 now.


Days 58-59

With two days off and little to do, writing an entry that reads “Today I sat around the pool and ate four hamburgers, then did some writing and watched an episode of The Wire” seems pretty pointless. There’s been a number of interesting and random stories I’ve heard or lived during the WSOP that I haven’t necessarily been able to fit into the trip reports, so this entry seems like a good opportunity to utilize them. Therefore, I bring you Bond18’s random WSOP stories, gossip, and encounters.


Day 57

The $1,000 rebuy tournaments at the WSOP are some of the toughest fields that come together during the series, and outside the $5,000 short-handed tournament, they’ll certainly be the toughest fields in No-Limit Hold ‘em. I’ve got $8,000 in my pocket just in case things get ugly and, if I need more, Sirwatts is only a few tables away. Thus far in my poker career I have yet to get involved in a truly expensive rebuy tournament, and most of the people who go nuts during the rebuy period are really pushing the equity potential for the tournament.

My starting table seems fairly tough; a tight, a mix of good online players and random nitty live players I’ve never seen before. The cards get in the air with 25/50 blinds and hour levels, starting with 2,000 in chips, which we instantly rebuy up to 4000. Not surprisingly, only the online players at the table take the immediate rebuy.


Days 55-56

I finally have a couple of days off. They’re come at just the right time, since I’ve spent so much time at the Rio and away from Celina she’s starting to wonder if I’ve turned gay and use the poker as an excuse to avoid her presence all day. Sure I could go play the $1,000 tournaments over at the Bellagio, but to be honest, I’m very, very tired at this point and the break is absolutely welcome.

The majority of poker players in Vegas for the summer use off days toward one of two things; either going out and getting very drunk or staying home and putting in online volume. I’ll be doing neither. First of all, I have a ton of writing to catch up on. During the European portion of my trip, I had enough free time that I was able to write nearly every night and when I didn’t, I had enough time the next day to catch up. During the Vegas portion I’ve had so many 13 hour days at the Rio that not only am I stressed for time, but I’m mentally exhausted and not feeling particularly creative when I get home. That’s not to say this time in Vegas has been particularly stressful. I’ve been running pretty well in the tournaments, have a great house of guys to hang out with, and Celina is absorbed enough with working on her EBay business that she doesn’t give me too much trouble about being so absent.



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