Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Two Posts in One Day??!! Sweet Fancy Moses!

Let's talk about sports.

Please, Jebus, let it be football season again. That is all I ask.

My wife and I listen to a fairly cheesy, at times corny but also generally amusing radio show in the morning while driving to work. This morning they were discussing Barry Bonds and the pending demise of Hank Aaaron's home run record.

They were already talking about the following idea, so I'm not sure who to give credit to it for, as it could have sprouted elsewhere in the general media, but here's the gist of it: Bonds should tie the record, and on his next at bat, with the media circus in full-blown frenzy mode, simply lay down his bat and walk off. Walk out of the clubhouse, out of baseball, and let Aaron keep his share of the record. In an instant Barry would suddenly go from villain to hero, honoring Aaron at the same time that he redeems himself by finally taking responsibility for all the sterioids he pumped into himself.

It'd be a beautiful, perfect ending to this whole sordid affair. Of course, Barry being Barry, he'd never do this in a million kabillion years, so it's pretty much a moot point.

Sports writers and attorneys of the world, you're on notice. The Michael Vick dogfighting case isn't about race. Stop trying to make it be about race. If Tom Brady were instead the one on the hot seat, do you honestly think that the general public would be clamoring for due process, instead of immediately leaping to judgment and wanting his testicles wrapped in savory bacon and a pack of ravenous, hungry dogs set upon him?

Of course they wouldn't. The frenzy and bloodlust is because the charges are pretty horrific and heinous, but, more than that, are an example of a rich, stupid, arrogant athlete who believes they're above the law that all us normal peons must suffer under. That last one is where all of the bloodlust comes from. The fact that Vick is a black athlete adds fuel to the fire, but it's very much a secondary reaction, and not the catalyst.

Stop playing the race card, just because it gives the story more heft and sells more copies/garners more eyeballs. Because you're giving him extra outs when you do that, in what is otherwise looking more and more like an open and shut case, especially with co-defendents turning on Vick and spilling pretty detailed beans.

"I Have to Call"

As far as my own personal poker play during the WSOP, I managed to cram in a few tournaments at Caesar's (mostly the crapshootastic 11 PM cheapo tourneys they were running during the WSOP), plus a handful of hours at the $1-$3 and $2-$5 NL tables. Basically broke even for the tourneys and ended up down a buy-in at the cash games, so it was close to a wash as far as my poker play goes.

It was interesting, though, playing live tournaments after solely playing SnGs and MTTs online for the last year or so. It's easy to get caught up in the doom and gloom surrounding the status of online poker in the US during the last nine months, but worthwhile to take a few steps back and remember that there's a whole other world out there, as far as playing live.

I tend to forget just how bad most live tournament players are and, ironically, how insanely lucky you have to be to wade through the field (especially when the structure is fast). It's ultimately encouraging, as far as poker continuing to attract large tournament fields with absolutely terrible players plunking down hundreds of dollars to enter, but you also have to temper your own expectations, as you're forced to deal with the absolute nonsensical from time to time.

Case in point. I was playing the $200 noon tournament at Caesar's, which had a much better structure than the other daily tournaments they were running. I managed to stay patient and chip up early, get a couple of timely doubles here and there, and was sitting with an above average stack with about 25 players left, with the top 15 getting paid. We were about 4-5 hours into the tourney, with a lot of the crazies already washed out.

I was sitting in the 9 seat, with about 20,000 chips, and there were a few folds in front of me. I look down to see, for the first time in what seemed like weeks, AA. Blinds are 800-1,600 (I think, in that general vicinity). I'm pondering exactly how much I want to raise, when the 1 seat, thinking I had folded, announces a raise and starts reaching for chips.


The dealer stops him, tells him I still haven't acted, and the guy impatiently exhales/sighs and waits. I actually pondered asking the dealer if he was commmitted to raising anything I bet after verbally declaring a raise out of turn, but didn't want to call any more attention to the strength of my hand; I was already worried that I'd chase him off by raising at all, after he tipped his hand by trying to act out of turn.

I finally raise to 5,000 and he insta-calls, and everyone else folds. I was obviously hoping that he'd come over the top with something like 1010-KK, but just as obviously like the call. He's barely got me covered, so we're both playing for all our marbles here.

Flop is 9 4 2, rainbow. I've got 15K and the pot is ~ 13K. I ponder being cute and betting 7K or 8K but that seems to scream monster pocket pair, so I just shove all-in, hoping he thinks I have AK or a smaller pair to his 1010-KK and assumes I'm trying to push him off the pot.

"Well, I have to call" he says, pretty much immediately, with a bit of resignation in his tone, and lumps in the rest of his chips.

Now, dear reader, what hand do you suppose he has? I would have wagered lots of American dollars that based on all of the above, he would roll over JJ or QQ. Maybe 1010 and maybe KK. Maybe maybe maybe AK. But I fully expected to see QQ, for all the reasons you should expect to see it.

His actual hand? J7 offsuit. J high, no straight or flush draw. Just J high. The hand that he called a decent raise with pre-flop (after he'd acted out of turned and tried to raise), and the hand that he basically called off all of his chips with on the flop, holding J high.

He nods a bit at the sight of my aces, sadly says "Yep", and then sits there silently as the dealer peels off a J on the turn, and a third J on the river. The guy next to me makes the appropriate "Jesus fucking Christ" comment as I stand up and leave, but all my opponent has to say is "That's why they call it poker" as I walk off, steam boiling out of my ears.

(And it took just about every ounce of self-reserve I had to keep walking and not stop and say "You fucking fucknut, that's not even the correct fucking phrase. It's "That's why they call it gambling" you moronic fucktard. Because that's exactly what you're apparently fucking doing, playing like that."

Except, really, he was right. He is right. That is poker, for better or for worse. Absolutely non-sensical in many cases, but also inevitable. And, as much as it pains me to say, hopeful. Once you manage to shrug off the personal pain from beats like that it's hard not to be encouraged to play more live tournaments, as the donkaments have most definitely not left the building, UIGEA be damned.

Friday, July 27, 2007

FDA Confirms that Spastic Rabbits Cure Malaise

Many thanks for the comments on the last couple of navel-gazing posts here. I'd be lying if I said that such matters of malaise and greater life purpose weren't prominent in my mind these days (obviously), but I can also be a bit melodramatic at times. Long story short, yeah, that stuff is bugging me, but not to the point that I'm losing sleep and torturing myself.

Jobs are weird. I've had tons of crappy jobs over the years, so I definitely realize the necessity and the relative cushiness of my current job (as well as the fact that pretty much anything turns into a boring day job, at some point in time, if you do it long enough). My current dilemma isn't so much in finding the perfect job and pursuing it, but deciding whether or not being bored out of my skull is worth the relative comfort and safety my current job supplies. I'm pretty resigned to doing something less than ideal; I just don't want to feel as if I'm sleepwalking through 40 hours each week completely on auto-pilot.

As far as scanning the horizon for other things I could possibly do, real estate (both renovating and building new homes) would be the obvious choice. I do sort of geek out over that stuff in general, and could definitely be happy and relatively fulfilled doing it full-time. The timing for a leap into that is pretty crappy, though, with the general doom and gloom surrounding the housing industry. Things aren't so bad here in central Texas but it's not clear whether we're just trailing the general decline or if conditions are truly different here. It's also a capital intensive endeavor, especially on the home-building side, and would take a much greater leap of faith to pursue.

The slightly perverse part of me wonders about just leaping in and doing something completely and utterly opposite of what I might otherwise choose, if left to my own devices. Yeah, I could probably ramp up the Web design/hosting/SEO/content creation stuff I do into a full-time job, but I don't necessarily get a lot of pleasure out of that work and it's not really anything different, as far as staving off boredom and malaise. So I wonder what would happen if I scanned job ads, found something that would normally make me absolutely cringe (like something in sales), and did that for awhile.

I get locked into the idea that I'm stuck at my current day job, as the necessary job skills are pretty narrow and don't translate to many other jobs, but that's pretty dumb. I make decent money but nowhere near enough to feel chained to this job or industry. All my extra side endeavors produce enough income that I could take a decent cut in pay and we wouldn't really suffer that much or have to alter our already pretty simple lifestyle.

So, in the end, who knows. Not me.

Completely changing gears, we once again have a furry animal in the household:

That's our new dwarf rabbit Creasy, who we've had for three or four weeks now. Mainly my wife's doing, as she's been clamoring for a bunny for years now, and I finally caved in right before I left for Vegas, as she correctly played the guilt/abandonment card at the correct time.

He's not quite as entertaining (or smart) as a rat, but he's pretty amusing, especially when he gets all spastic and races around the living room at top speed, careening off things and generally imitating a whirling rabbit dervish. It's been kind of nice to have animals running around the place again, so that's been cool. We should be getting a couple of rats in a month or so, too, so the menagerie will once again be at maximum capacity.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Malaise's BFF: Mediocrity

One thing that's hard to ignore in my recent bout of extreme introspection is that I've gotten pretty skilled over the years at hiding a pretty simple fact: my own personal glass ceiling maxes out somewhere around "high average".

That cuts both ways. On the one hand, I pick up things pretty damn quickly and am wired to throw myself headlong into whatever it is I'm pursuing. Ramp up time for any given pursuit is pretty minimal, and lo and behold, pit me against 75% of the general population in any given activity (investing, poker, chess, making money, darts, search engine optimization, juggling, affiliate marketing, and on and on and on) and I'll come out ahead.

I absolutely hate being bad at anything, especially publicly, and will go to insane lengths to not look stupid in front of people. Insane lengths.

But I'm not really good at anything. And never have been. And therein lies an odd rub, one that I think leads to rising water levels in the sea of malaise.

(And yes, I'm mainly going to babble about the dollars and cents aspect of all this, but I'm not necessarily ignoring the personal edification and enjoyment angle of it, either. Most of my recent tussle with malaise centers around the issue of money and how my time is spent in pursuit of it, so that's pretty front and center in my brain at the moment.)

We're somewhat conditioned to heap praise on the jack-of-all-trades Renaissance Person types, but lately I wonder about that. Sure, in theory its great to be well-rounded, to have a diverse and eclectic skill set, to be open-minded and driven enough to accumulate skill and knowledge in a vast array of fields. But really, in the end, what the hell is that actually worth?

I've played many thousands of games of chess. Odds are if we sit down and play, I'll win. Okay, great. While the ego boost is slightly nice, if I could somehow get all those hours I'd dedicated to chess in the past back, I'd do it in a heartbeat. Offer me $20 to eradicate all knowledge of what en passant or fianchetto means and I'd take it in a heartbeat.

And I can repeat the above exercise for many, many things. By and large, they're all activities that I got no immense pleasure from, even at the time, but pursuits that I continued to tilt at, bang my head on, until I got fairly proficient.

So, umm, why? Boil everything else away and odds are great that much of that loops back to a fear of failing, or, more accurately, of being seen as a failure. Which I can own up to pretty easily. Okay. Fear of failure? Check. Tendency to stubbornly persist in endeavors until proficiency is achieved? Check. Frustration and self-loathing based on pervasive feeling of malaise at realization that much of my time is spent in endeavors that have no greater good or promise of larger greatness? Check.

Speaking from a strictly financial perspective, most successful business types make the vast majority of their money (well, at least initially) from something they're really good at. It might be computer programming, trading soy futures, surfboard manufacturing, corporate raiding, selling copious amounts of weed, or building eco-friendly homes. Typically it's something they enjoy doing, aside from any financial gain, which makes it all the easier to amass great piles o' money.

Much of my frustration and malaise of late is that while I've been generally successful in making a goodly amount of money the last five years from widely disparate sources (day job, real estate, equity investments, affiliate marketing, freelance SEO jobs), I've been nowhere near the big score. I'm pretty good at drag bunts, stealing bases, and pushing runs across the plate with sac flies (with an occasional opposite field home run thrown in here and there), but the walk-off home run is still a faraway dream.

To be fair, there's a lot to be said for playing small ball. It's safe and predictable, once you get the hang of it. You're never risking very much at any given point in time. My wife and I are very comfortable right now. We've got basically zero debt other than mortgage debt, have a heap of money in savings, own investment property, and pour money into 401(k)s and IRAs each month. All of which I'm very grateful for, and much of that comes from all of my far-flung schemings and money-making endeavors. But it's not close to being a life-altering sort of thing, as the contraption in its current configuration (day job, business on the side, freelance gigs where I can find them) would need to continue to revolve for quite a few more years before any stopping point was reached.

Despite many small successes, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed in myself, in many ways. Better than average success isn't a bad thing, by any stretch of the imagination. I'm truly grateful for it. But part of me can't help but wonder what I might be capable of if I stopped flitting around from thing to thing, if I put it all out there and for once in my life focused on one single, solitary thing, with enough potential reward (and risk of ruin) involved that the stakes would be more than meaningful.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Dread Malaise

Despite being damn glad to be back home from the land o' Vegas, I've been in the throes of a pretty serious case of malaise ever since. Boo, malaise.

It's an odd case of malaise, as it doesn't stem from the sources one might guess, as far as the timing of it goes, returning home after being in Vegas for the Main Event. I've got absolutely zero desire to play lots of poker. I've got less than zero desire to ever depend on the poker industry for a full-time job as a writer. I've got only a tiny miniscule desire to ever live in Las Vegas. So why the malaise, if I'm happy to leave all of the above in Vegas, and finally get back to my normal life and home?

It's the same tired subject that I've worn to a stub endlessly babbling about here, but the brainless nature of my day job is finally taking its toll, methinks. My writing gig for the 2007 WSOP was the first full-time "job" I've had other than the day job in the last eight years or so. And while it wasn't a perfect job by any stretch of the imagination (and basically lasted all of two weeks), it was a wake-up call in many ways.

I actually had to use my brain and interact with people. There was no script whatsoever as far as what shape the day would take, with much work developing on the fly. I had a real incentive to bust my ass, as this was the first gig of this sort for PokerRoom.com, and future similar gigs might be hinging on what I produced. And, last but not least, it was a writing gig that people were actually reading, and not just meanderings on my blog or the most boring copy about software companies imaginable.

All of which is pretty much the complete antithesis of my current day job. Just reverse all of the above and hey, that's my job.

In the end it boils down to the age-old question of being relatively safe and secure, maxing out your 401(k) contribution each money, knowing exactly what to expect each day (but being completely bored out of your skull), or taking a chance. Which I suppose also ties into the Main Event, as far as taking a shot. Yeah, there are some terrible players who enter each year and pay $10,000, and yeah, it's our right and duty to mock them and talk endlessly about "dead money", but at least they took their shot. It might be completely idiotic and the worst investment they'll ever make, but at least they stepped up to the plate and took their cuts.

I guess I just worry lately that I'm sacrificing too much in my unholy crusade for money. Granted, it's part of a plan to amass as much filthy lucre as possible so that I can eventually do all of the things that I really want to do, but Jebus, boredom and malaise can be deadly, silent killers too.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Sleeping in Your Own Bed is Massively +EV

The title should pretty much speak for itself, but man, was it ever nice to sleep in my own bed last night. So much so that I slept until nearly noon, something I haven't done in a good ten years or so. I figure I'm still running a sleep deficit of about -50 hours, given my wacky hours over the last few weeks in Vegas, but all in all I feel pretty good.

It is pretty odd to not be in Vegas, though, despite a not small measure of loathing that crept in there the last few days. It's just an odd experience to totally immerse yourself in covering the Main Event, cobbling together your daily routine, and for it to all suddenly been done, imploded, and scattered to bits. I don't miss it, really. At all. But it's odd for it not to be there.

Looking back, I have to say that I definitely understand some of the play by pros early in the event that had me scratching my head at the time. It's easy to chalk up speculative plays as dumb (such as Phil Ivey stacking off for all his chips with nothing more than a flush draw), but you really have to witness the long, long grind firsthand to understand much of that. It's not that they want to dump their chips and get back to juicy cash games (although I'm sure that element is there), it's that the Main Event is a massive, massive crapshoot, especially in the later stages.

You can play perfect poker for days, make all the right moves, and get your money in as an 80% favorite and, seconds later, be packing up your shit and hitting the rails. A few hours before the bubble you couldn't walk through the room without seeing someone get knocked out on a bad beat, their hopes crushed. Then ten seconds later it'd happen again, right behind you. And again. And again.

While I'm not at all advocating that you stack off with a draw on the first day of play, knowing that someone has a made hand, I definitely better understand why it happens. You've gotta pick up chips in this thing, from the very get go, and never let up, as you have to find some way to survive all sorts of ridiculous beats and crap will inevitably befall you if you want to make some serious noise.

I'd have to say that a bit of nostalgic bloom is now off the rose for me, as far as the Main Event itself. Yeah, it's pretty damn cool. Yeah, it's a whole ton of money. But no, it's really got nothing to do with joining the pantheon of poker greats from the past, as far as winning the thing. It's just about as far from that as possible, with Harrah's at the helm and 6000+ players entering it.

I don't blame Harrah's from whoring it out, as that's what they do, and they didn't buy rights to the brand to completely change the format and only invite the world's top 100 players each year to battle it out for the world championship.

It's just the ungodly size of it that does it in, as far as it being any test of poker skill. The field is just too large, with too many qualifiers and too many donkeys, for it to be anything other than a crapshoot in the end. Watching the final table pretty much reinforced that this year, as much of the early action involved all-ins and calls with baby pocket pairs versus any two face cards, A rag versus A rag, and all sorts of other stuff that you'd expect to see in token satellites on Full Tilt, and not necessarily so much at final tables of Main Events.

Which isn't really a bad thing, in the end. More and more I think the poker cosmos will shift to looking at the HORSE winner as the true poker world champion (if it doesn't already), with the Main Event being the silly lottery that produces all of the necessary hoopla to remind the world at large that big poker doings are happening.

Call me crazy, but I thought Harrah's did a good job of running the Main Event this year. The choice of colors for certain chips in the later stages was a pretty bad screw-up (and an easily avoidable one), but all the other trains seemed to run pretty much on time. I was surprised that they allowed as much media access as they did to us lowly press peons with purple badges, and they kept the media room reasonably well-stocked with drinks and food. The end stages of the tournament were kind of clunky and rough, as far as media other than ESPN basically being shoved to the side, but again, I don't necessarily blame Harrah's for that. You sell exclsuive rights to someone and at some point that's what you have to give them.

As far as my personal gig there with PokerRoom.com, it actually turned out to be much, much better than I expected. The other staff they sent pretty much busted their butts the whole time making sure players who qualified through them were taken care of, and that spilled over to me as well. So I ate and drank well the entire time and barely spent a dime of my own out of pocket. They also helped greatly with keeping tabs on players, as far as updates when they were on breaks, where they were seated in the cavernous hall, where they were moved to when tables were broken, etc.

They also set up lots of outings and other social silliness, usually meeting at the same time each night at a bar at Caesar's as a jumping off point. Which definitely helped as far as actually socializing and getting out some, as I'd have otherwise had a much more solitary experience.

The actual workload, though, was pretty insane. I went from giggling about what they were paying me for the gig (as I was surprised when they agreed to pay what I originally asked for), to kicking myself a bit, as they definitely got a deal in the end. 16 hour work days were the norm for the first week or so, and they were pretty jam-packed days with little to no downtime. It's a little disappointing when I look at the output, as it's far from great and/or riveting poker writing, but it's just a ton of work covering a tournament, keeping tabs on certan players, and trying to give an overall picture of what's going on. Much more than I would have ever thought. So hats off again to all you fine poker writers that do this thing full-time, as you definitely earn what relative peanuts you make many times over.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Process of Elimination

Surreal has pretty much been the personal buzzword bouncing around in my head the last few weeks, and its pretty applicable today, sitting here in the media room watching the final table action on a live television feed piped into the room. While the real action is literally occuring 100 yards away, media restrictions basically render 95% of media badge holders as mere spectators (and Harrah's for some reason insists on providing seating for only a hundred or so spectators) so it's easier to cover the final table from the media room.

I never thought I'd say it, but man, I'm pretty sick of Vegas. Not for any real demonstrable reason, other than its not my home, not my house, and my wife isn't here. For the first week or so I actually liked the routine nature of each day, as far as working my butt off on the writing/reporting gig, cheering on PokerRoom.com team members, getting together for dinner and drinks at the same place each night, and so on. Then suddenly I realized that I was doing the same damn thing, day in and day out, and it wasn't something I really enjoyed, as far as what I'd be otherwise doing with myself.

I'm not sure I've come to any grand understandings in my 33 years on the planet so far, but I do feel like I'm eliminating some things I'm not. I'm not the sort of person who enjoys being away from home. I'm not the sort of person who ever wants to be away from home on an extended business trip. I'm not the sort of person who enjoys long nights of boozing and assorted adventures.

Whining aside, it's been a fun trip, and something I'd happily do next year if offered the chance. I won a big gob of money at the silly -EV games like blackjack and video poker, thankfully more than enough to offset the losses at the poker tables. This trip was pretty brutal on the poker front, despite a decent cash in a Caesar's nightly tournament. Like most trips, most of the damage was done in a couple of pivotal hands, including losing a $1,400 pot with AA versus 66 and another $1,000 pot with AA versus J7o (on a flop of 10 4 2, no less).

Not really sure what this trip has done for my outlook on poker, in a broad sense. It did light a bit of fire underneath me to want to play in the Main Event next year, so I suppose that's encouraging. But it's also driving home the fact that I'll simply likely not play a ton of poker in the future, and that when I do I need to resign myself to a certain amount of ridiculousness. I only managed to get in seven or eight hours at cash games this trip, and that's far from enough time to draw any sort of conclusion (or derive any sort of advantage) about any poker skill I might have. Progress to full-time poker duffer continues, but still kind of hard to get my head around from time to time.

Flying home tomorrow, thank Jebus.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Best Laid Plans

So, umm, yeah. Not so much follow through on posting here...

The first two days of this gig were definitely the hardest, as far as suddenly working ridiculously long hours in a pretty wacked-out atmosphere. After a few days, though, you pretty quickly develop a routine and get used to the drill, even if it's a completely different drill than any you've been accustomed to before.

We're still working pretty damn long hours but we're covering fewer and fewer PokerRoom.com players, so it's getting easier as the days unreel. I've managed to lose any and all sense of what day it is, how many days until I get to go home, and other similar stuff.

Covering the tables, though, is getting harder and hard, as space is limited anyway and as players drop out and tables consolidate, there's just not much room to move around in, when you toss in media, floor people, staff, and players. I don't really mind the spectators so much but it's actually been the floor that I've had the most run-ins (literally) with.

Have to give some grudging credit to Harrah's, as so far I've been impressed with how they've handled things. They've mostly kept the spectator crush in check and there haven't been many incidents such as in the past with mucked up chip counts and other shenanigans. Well, shenanigans that we know about so far, that is.

Haven't had any time at all to play poker myself, as I'm pretty exhausted at night when work is done and not fit to do much other than play some mindless -EV blackjack. I did sit at a pretty crazy blackjack table the other night with your sterotypical loud, drunk Texans from Corpus Christi. One of their buddies stumbled out from the high limit area with a single 1,000 chip, and spent the next half hour telling and re-telling the story about how he lost $10,000 playing in their but got paid $1,000 at the end by some sophisicated, suave Euro type if the guy would just leave the high limit area and not come back. He tried to run it up to $5,000 so he could return and demand more money to leave, but only got as high as $3,000 or so before giving it all back.

He got pretty upset when the pit boss wouldn't let him keep two drinks simultaneously in front of him at the table, as he was double-fisting with a vokda and ginger ale (I have no idea why) and a glass of red win (again, no clue). The cocktail waitress was about to take one away, when I saw his eyes light up (he was sitting next to me) with his drunken brilliance, when he called her back and told her she'd taken my drink. So I was his surrogate drink holder for the rest of the night, and he'd pay me a green chip everytime the cocktail waitress brought a re-fill.

Right before he left, though, he did manage to steer some ridiculously attractive very young Greek girl with an British accent to the table, when she made the mistake of approaching slightly too close to his field of gravity. I would have laid many American dollars on the "hooker" side of the line, as she was wearing knee-high calf-skin boots and a mini-skirt that had about three square inches of fabric total, but apparently she wasn't, as her equally-young Greek-looking boyfriend wandered over at some point, left, and she started talking about what a terrible gambler he was, why she'd never marry him because of it, etc.

One of the Texans nearly stroked out when she called someone a "cheeky bastard", and paid her $25 every time she said "cheeky bastard" for the next hour, as he seemed to like the combination of the accent/delivery. To give her credit, she didn't really milk it for all it was potentially worth, pocketing about $200 the hour or so I played, before dragging myself off to bed and passing out.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

2 Days Down, 192,102 More to Go

The workload here at the Main Event is a bit more manageable today, so hopefully I'll be able to sneak in a few more posts here.

Today is shaping up to be a pretty highly-caffeinated day. Head hit the pillow at about 4:30 in the morning, rolled out of bed for breakfast at 9, then stumbled over here to the media room.

The whole media room experience has been interesting. Due to the nature of the coverage we're doing, I end up with my ass parked here for much of the day, from around 10 each morning until about 3 the next morning. So I get a pretty heavy dose of everything that goes on in the media room, for better or for worse.

On the better side, good lord, some of the female talent hired by the Scandi poker sites is pretty amazing. And we're talking writer/reporter types, not your typical skanky booth-girl fare. Sadly, though, most of them disappeared after the first few days.

On the worse side, I came reasonably close to losing my shit yesterday, as one of the major media outlets here seems to have a hiring requirement that you have to be a fucking obnoxiously loud douchebag, and only speak at 11 on your volume scale, even when you're in an otherwise silent room filled with writers and reporters just trying to do their work. The really sad part about it is that the bulk of the decibels is directly proportional to the number of attractive females in the room, despite the fact that there's no fucking woman on earth, attractive or otherwise, that's going to be impressed about you shouting about a stupid call with third pair on a coordinated board. Plus most women don't go for loud fat dudes with beards anyway.

Last night was pretty surreal, getting dropped off from the cab at the front of Caesar's at 4 or so, after working all day. Typical weekend night with a mile-long cab line and silicon breasts spilling out everywhere, and there am I stumbling my way through to go to bed, after a long-ass work day. If you worked in this environment full-time I'm sure you'd get used to it, but my tired head keeps getting confused, as I look around and see Vegas, but it's more a pseudo-Vegas. It looks just like where I was on vacation a few weeks ago but I'm suddenly on the other side of it, pretty far away from boozing it up and donking off cash at the tables.

The PokerRoom employees here have been great as far as picking up the tab for everything, so I've hardly spent any money whatsoever while here. (Again, not my normal Vegas experience at all). I'm pretty much the only American amongst the whole crew, which has been interesting. I find myself otwardly apologizing for all sorts of things ("Umm, yeah, sorry about the whole UIGEA thing; "Yes, indeed, restaurants here insist on serving huge, gigantic portions, haven't you seen all our fatties walking around?) and inwardly feeling like a bit of a loser, as nearly everyone seems to speak approximately 128 different languages.

It's been kind of cool covering a team of 40 or so players. It's frustrating in some ways, as the content we're doing is pretty straightforward (photos of players in action, how they're doing throughout the day, etc.) but it's also good in some ways, as we're not expected to do the same sort of broad coverage of the WSOP that other outlets focus on. That'd be a losing proposition, given the fact that we've got two people in total scampering around the room, so it's kind of nice to not be forced to try to dig up interesting facts or details about the action that no one else has reported on. Since we don't have an ungodly number of players here like Stars or FullTilt, it's possible to keep pretty close tabs on them, and you end up rooting for them fairly strongly.

All this does make me fiend pretty strongly to play in a Main Event, which surprised me a bit given my general "meh" stance on poker of late. It's hard to get a real idea of the level of donkitude that you see, even with a buy-in of $10,000. And I don't bring that up in the normal dead money sort of argument way, just that I need to play in this damn thing at least once, if everyone and their brother's uncle's dog is doing the same.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

This Main Event Thing Lasts HOW Long?


On the one hand, things have been pretty orderly and *gasp* not horribly mismanaged by Harrah's so far. Nothing has disastrously blown up and everything has gone pretty much as planned, as far as my particular gig here writing for PokerRoom.com. No horrible surprises, no glaring problems, etc.

On the other hand, good lord, these first days are long ones. They're drawing around 1,500 players for each of the first four starting days, and play begins at noon, and ends at about 4 in the morning. We get here an hour or two early to set-up and play catch-up from the day before, so it's basically a 15-16 hour day. We've had about twenty players each day we're tracking and reporting on that qualified through PokerRoom and its skins, which isn't a huge number but fairly busy to manage, as far as tracking general chip counts, bust-outs, notable hands, etc. We're also trying to take lots of photos, which leads to much image editing, uploading to servers, and all that fun stuff.

I got about four hours of sleep last night and hey, it's time to do it again. And again. And again. And then another crazy day when Day 2 kicks off. It should eventuallt settle down quite a bit as players get knocked out, but for now its pretty insanely busy.

I honestly have no clue how Otis and Pauly and others not only do this stuff, day in and day out, yet somehow find time to write meaty, thoughtful posts in their regular blogs. It's all I can do to keep up with what's on my plate, much less contemplate being all writerly on top of that.

All that said, I do have a kickass view from my hotel room at Caesar's, which more than makes up for the long, exhausting hours, when I come back to the room and relax, reveling in the view:

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Vegas, Baby

Still seems very surreal to me that I'm off early tomorrow for two weeks in Vegas, writing about teh poker, but that's apparently what I'll be doing. I'll be sharing space here with another PokerRoom.com writer, which should be pretty interesting.

No clue what spending two solid weeks in Vegas is going to be like. I guess I'm about to find out.