Thursday, June 18, 2009

Base Camp Two

While I'm on the road and awake in the middle of the night, I tend to watch some really strange television while trying to fall asleep in the dawn hours. Ice Road Truckers. I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant. Documentaries on the financial crisis. And those Discovery Channel specials on insane lunatics that climb Mount Everest. This morning, while the sun was peeking though the spaces between the blinds, I drifted off while our intrepid climbers reached Base Camp Two. They weren't quite halfway through their climb, but were still high enough that they had to dip into those oxygen tanks for a few hours a day.

That's pretty much where we're at when it comes to the WSOP. Not quite halfway there. We're in the thick of things. Nearly everyone has the thousand-yard stare. Those that are spending their nights trying to grind it out at the tables are telling their bad beat stories with a little more frequency and frustration. 4 a.m. feels like midnight used to, and thankfully, I already had my mental breakdown during the first week of the series, so I'm just trying to focus on myself and my own well-being as I trudge up the mountain. I cover two more events start to finish and then we're at the $50K H.O.R.S.E.

I've been climbing solo for the last two weeks, with my beloved off on the first leg of summer Phish tour, researching his next book. I'll admit it was difficult reading all his posts and Twitters from the road, clearly having the time of his life while I was stuck grinding out a paycheck at the Rio. But at the same time, those dispatches brought a smile to my face during some of the darkest hours in this building.

Check out the Best of Bonnaroo Twitters on Coventry to relive their adventures.

I also cracked up at this post Bonnaroo and Craigslist from Broseph, who pilfered through the "Missed Connections" section and uncovered some gems.

Pauly also has his Bonnaroo recap up.

I've downloaded all the Phish shows from Fenway Park to St. Louis and am slowly making my way through while cranking out articles and driving back and forth to the Rio. Today's selections were from the Asheville show, where they played a killer Divided Sky, but then went into some random country song about a cactus where Mike Gordon started yodeling. WTF? At least after that, they busted out with Bold as Love, which sizzled and made me happy, despite the bumper-to-bumper traffic on I-15.

For now it's another late night at the Rio, a $10,000 stud 8 or better tournament, and Dutch Boyd's tragic hoodie staring me in the face.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Tao All-Stars: The WSOP Fashion Report, Week 1

I'm honored to be one of the Tao All-Stars at this summer's WSOP and just contributed my first of several Fashion Reports. Check it out.


I'm back working for PokerNews at the WSOP and so far, the experience has been more similar to the fresh hell of 2007 than the far more manageable 2008. Basically, the entire official live reporting team was thrown together only two weeks before the start of the series due to protracted negotiations with Harrah's/Bluff, and things are far more disorganized than they were last year. A smaller staff, everyone taking pay cuts (myself included), fewer days off and lots of housing and transportation-related snafus have turned us all into a grumpy bunch pretty quickly. We're eight days in and I already have the thousand-yard stare. To make up for the pay cut I took, I'm still writing three pieces a week for the front page of PokerNews so I can afford to pay rent on my empty apartment back in L.A. and my editor is ready to throttle me, as I've blown every deadline since I got to Las Vegas. Typically I get home around 2 or 3 in the morning and have another couple of hours of work, usually getting to bed around 5. Now I know what Pauly goes through every single night at the WSOP. It's not pretty.

I feel like I haven't seen anyone since I got here. I pass people like Al, LJ, California Jen, Mean Gene, and the PokerListings guys in the hallway and don't have time for more than a passing hello. I haven't had time for a single drink at the hooker bar. I haven't played a hand of poker or Pai Gow. I can't even think about squeezing in a friendly dinner with folks or playing a satellite to try and make a few bucks. It's all about just getting through the day at this point.

Sorry to be such a downer, but that's where I'm at right now. I wish I could spend time with friends, have a laugh or two, and enjoy a nice meal, but with the way things are going at the moment, it's simply not in the cards. And if this $10K Mixed Event ends up going four days instead of three... well, there goes my day off.