I don't think I've slept a night in Australia where I didn't have a bizarre dream. I don't know if it's because I'm on the other side of the world or what, but my subconscious always seems to go into overdrive when I'm in Oz. Last night's edition featured the Big Man's ex-wife of all people. We were a playing $0.25-$0.50 no-limit game with a bunch of illegal Mexicans in a hair salon where we were both waiting for our appointments. I wanted to felt her so badly and she was playing every hand, so it was only a matter of time. But then, her new boyfriend showed up and wanted to buy weed from me. I told them to meet me outside in the alley behind the building so I could give it to him. I went out there and waited for hours but they never showed up, so I ended up taking off on a motorcycle, even though I didn't know how to ride it. Then, I woke up to the sound of fingers on keys, as I do most mornings when Pauly's around. By the time I gain consciousness, he's been pouring out his thoughts on a blank screen for hours. I'd really do anything to be able to sleep as little as he does.
Today is our sixth in Melbourne. We took off from LAX Tuesday night and after some shenanigans with the International Date Line, we arrived here on Thursday morning after a relatively uneventful fifteen-hour flight. That night we joined newlyweds Jules and Graham for a spectacular dinner at Rockpool, the 2007 winner of Melbourne's restaurant of the year. Those two were planning to celebrate their wedding and their respective new jobs that night and were kind enough to let us crash their dinner.
The food was just amazing. I had a sashimi appetizer featuring velvety slices of Ocean Trout, Yellowfin Tuna, and Hiramasa Kingfish in a soy dressing. The quality of the fish was impeccable. I could have kept eating plates and plates of just that all night, but the star of this restaurant is the steak. Pauly and I had the bone-in ribeye for two and it did not disappoint. It came with sides of Bernaise sauce and Horseradish dressing, but they were hardly necessary in the face of the bold flavors of the dry-aged Australian beef. On the side we enjoyed a refreshing tomato salad, some tasty roasted mushrooms, gourmet onion rings and Rockpool's signature mac 'n cheese. Oh, and there was also the matter of the three bottle of Shriaz we tore through. Pauly took photos of course.
I so enjoy the company of these two and our dinner clocked in at a four-hour running time that seemed to pass in the blink of an eye. During the course of our meal, the sun set, flames flew from the Crown's half-dozen giant torches along the Yarra River, and the once-packed restaurant completely emptied out. We adjourned to J.J.'s bar upstairs for juuust one more bottle after dinner. If we'd had two, I might have had to warble along with the cheesy lounge singer/piano player who played a set while we drank.
The next morning, we moved into the Crown Towers. I thought the rooms at the Crown Promenade (the other, less fancy hotel at the Crown Complex) were the nuts last time we were here, but let me tell you, the Towers are a significant upgrade. Fluffy bathrobes and matching slippers, a jacuzzi tub, a seperate changing room, a sick plasma TV and chocolates on your pillow from the maids. 17 nights of luxury living...ship it! Well, yeah, then there's the matter of those 16-hour days in a casino that comes with it.
We're already through three events at the Aussie Millions. Yesterday, Pauly and I spent the day and most of the night covering a mixed stud event. Yeah, mixed stud. Stud high/Stud 8/Razz. The early hours were sheer torture. It took about three hours just to get to the first elimination. Jules turned up to play and went out (natch) on a Razz bad beat. To put it in her words:
"A-2-3, brick, brick, brick, brick."
In the early evening hours, Jimmy "gobboboy" Fricke began pulling away from the field by employing his typical aggressive style and "running good in Razz." He arrived at the final table as the overwhelming chip leader and really never had to look back. He completely ran it over and beat Aussie poker legend Graeme "Kiwi G" Putt heads-up to win the event. I was really happy for Jimmy-- though Howard Lederer may think he's a freak, I think he's a sweet kid with a good heart. He did a great video interview for Poker News with our new on-air hostess Amanda Leatherman a few days ago. Check it out.
The days have been long here, but I'm excited for the arrival of the Full Tilt jet tomorrow, carrying April, Dawn Summers, and Bacon Bikini Mary down under. I can't even imagine the volume of Chinese Poker matches on that flight.
Oh... and thanks again for all the concern over my poor little burned fingers. They are doing much better now and it looks like I'll hardly have any scarring. The blisters are gone, the bandages are off, and all that is there to remind me of that night is some dry, peeling pink skin.
That, and a fear of hot wax.