I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror when I went to wash my hands. I looked like hell. I can't believe Pauly or Otis or someone didn't say something. Like, "did you sleep in a gutter last night?" or "did you get rolled in the parking lot?" It was Day 7 of the WSOP and the bags under my eyes were already reaching epic proportions. I'll have to go for the double layer of Laura Mercier concealer tomorrow morning.
Like poker itself, the WSOP is a long, intense grind interrupted by a few moments of sheer magic. Like when I saw a man win a bracelet and another man lose a bracelet within the same five minutes, all as I was coming back to the floor from my dinner break. First I passed the final table of the $2,500 Omaha 8/Stud 8 just as Tom "Donkey Bomber" Schneider won the final hand. Finally having reached his moment in the spotlight, he held his wife in an embrace, neither of them wanting the moment to end. There was a glaze over his eyes as he walked the rail, all of his friends and sweaters congratulating him.
Then, fifty feet away, I saw Gavin Smith heads-up in the $1,500 pot-limit hold'em, all in with a pair of fives vs. the ace-ten of spades. The flop had two spades and after a pause for TV dramatics, another came on the turn. His face fell twenty stories. Just moments ago in the media room, Shronk was telling me that Gavin, more than any other player he knows, values first so much more than second. Phil Hellmuth consoled him with a hug. Jeffrey Pollack gave him the customary "I'm sorry, that sucks" handshake. Gavin just sipped his beer and stared down at the cards still on the table. So. Fucking. Close.
"Did Gavin win?" a railbird asked me.
"Does that look like the face of a man who just won?" was my reply.
* * * * *
I met Tony G. this afternoon. He's a sweet, friendly guy-- nothing like the "I'm gonna rip youuuu apahhht sooo hahhhhrd" stuff you see on TV. Technically he's my boss since he's the one signing the checks. As you may or may not know, The G is a major shareholder in PokerNews. And as you've undoubtedly heard if you're following the WSOP, CardPlayer was caught red-handed stealing chip counts from PokerNews. We knew going into the WSOP that people would steal our work, and lo and behold, it ends up being CardPlayer, now flat on their ass after falling from the high horse they rode all last summer. Blissfully ironic, isn't it, especially after that fracas with their "video expose" of a Bluff reporter allegedly cutting and pasting their updates.
Tony posted his take on the situation on his blog at PokerWorks, where he repeatedly reminds us that he is from the streets, yo.
I am from the street and when you steal from me, you are playing with fire. This is no different than taking money out of my pocket when it was all I had, which wasn't that long ago. I'll bet the Shulmans never thought they would be stealing from me two years ago when they were on top and PokerNews had three employees and was just getting by. I urge the Shulmans to think about what they are doing to me now. They should think about how people feel when they are robbed.I am from the boulevards of Beverly Hills, so I can't exactly relate on the robbing and beating level, but I did spend 8 years in the movie business. I am so used to being shit upon and taken advantage of by scumbags and hangers-on that the whole situation rolled off my back like water. How many times did I write a 10-page memo for a hungover V.P. only to have them slap their name on it and leave mine off when it went to the Big Man? How many times did I develop an idea with a writer only to have some other idiot steal the project right out from under me? Douchebaggery like that is a fact of daily life in Hollywood. If you let it get to you, you're dead. Mind you, I take pride in my work and have incredible loyalty to PokerNews, who took me on post-UIGEA when everyone was losing their freelance gigs, but I have to say I was wholly unsurprised.
How did we figure it out? Fake names. Though Derek McGuire was on a plane to Maine at the time, he somehow amassed a stack in the $1,500 pot-limit hold'em. I don't know how Jonno Pittock was able to manage the entire reporting staff, blog, AND play the $2,500 mixed 8 or better event but CardPlayer had him at 3,500 for most of the day... just like we did. And Professional Keno Player Neil Fontenot is on the European Keno Tour all summer so there's no way he could have bought in to a WSOP event.
* * * * *
Inside the Ropes, Week 1:
At one point, while covering the $1K rebuy, I turned around and found myself looking straight into Brett Jungblut's ass-crack. Maybe that's a new list of five I can start.
The Last Five Pros' Ass-Cracks I've Seen Exposed at the Tables:
1. Brett "Gank" Jungblut
2. Dutch Boyd
3. Cyndy Violette
4. Jeff Shulman
5. Dan Alspach
While we're on lists of five, I have finally pissed next to five pros! It takes a little longer with us ladies, since we're still so vastly outnumbered in the poker world.
The Last Five Pros I Took a Piss Next to:
1. Kristy Gazes
2. Jennifer Harman
3. Dee Luong
4. Lacey Jones
5. Sabyl Cohen
Daniel Negreanu came up to media row during the rebuy, took a seat next to me, and just started talking. One trait I inherited from my time in the biz is to never have a reaction when meeting or speaking with a celebrity. I told Negreanu I dug his t-shirt, which was emblazoned with a photo of Bob Marley-- made entirely of pot leaves.
Though that shirt was pretty cool, my favorite so far at the WSOP has been the one Joe Pelton wore in the $2K NLHE yesterday. It had a club on the front of it with the words "legalize it."
Andy Bloch seems so reserved when you see him play on TV, but once you get to know him, he's surprisingly animated and friendly. He was wearing a shirt the other day that said "Rent This Space," surrounded by Full Tilt, Pokerwire, and World Poker Association logos and I asked him how much it would cost to rent his chest.
"Finally, a woman asks you that!" teased Bloch's buddy.
There was a crazy wind storm over the past few days in Vegas and the brain trust at Harrah's decided to seat the $1,500 Omaha 8 or better field inside the Poker
"The situation in the Poker Pavilion is impossible. The wind is slamming the tent from the outside, and it's also rushing in through the doors and causing a strong draft inside the room. The entire structure, including the metal rafters and pillars, is shaking like some kind of funhouse attraction. Standing in the middle of the room you can't believe your eyes, it almost feels like the wind might fill the inside of the roof and lift it like a sail. The situation has deteriorated enough that Harrah's has sent the players on an early dinner break and they will try to break as many tables inside the Amazon Room as possible so they can seat the entire event indoors. If they can't do that, they've announced that they will postpone it until tomorrow. It's a decision that had to be made. Players were extremely vocal in their displeasure about the conditions and, frankly, it was starting to look dangerous in there. The wind is very powerful and it hasn't let up all day."Later in the evening, the entire back wall of the tent collapsed. One player nearly had his arm sliced off when a metal pole came crashing down. Which sum of money do you think is larger, the $228K first prize for the event, or Harrahs' legal bills over this incident?
Pauly is always thoughtful enough to bring me food and drinks when I can't get away. He showed up with a Chicken Caesar Salad, a Diet Coke and a cup of ice just as my stomach began to rumble at around 2:30. I've been in Vegas less than two weeks and I think I've already lost five pounds from all the running around and not eating much. I brought three pairs of jeans with me and the snuggest pair is already beginning to loosen. Not that I'm complaining about that particular side effect of my work schedule...
Everyone's favorite trainwreck Brandi Hawbaker has made a number of appearances at the Rio. I first saw her playing satellites with David Sklansky on the rail sweating her, then saw her returning the favor to Sklansky when he made the final two tables of the $1,500 limit hold'em event on Tuesday. Brandi played the $2K NLHE yesterday and cashed in 55th place. She showed up in a brown mini-dress and fuck-me heels to play (so... you don't want everyone to think you're stripper yet you dress like one?) The media was constantly swarming her table and you could tell she was ablsolutely loving it. I saw her chatting with another player on her break about all the sponsorships she's allegedly being offered. I had no idea the Spearmint Rhino staked poker players...
Brandi is definitely no longer broke. Either that, or she's getting backed (not the P.O.B. kind of "backing" but hey, with her you never know). She had a $1,200 Louis Vuitton purse sitting under her chair and was displaying plenty of cleavage. The girl definitely enjoys being looked at. Jonno thought she was cute until I told him about Capt. Tom's Penis and the ensuing scandal.
"Nevermind then. She's kind of dirty" he quipped.
Finally, I have decided to play the WSOP Ladies' Event in lieu of the blogger tournament on Saturday. I can only get one of the two days off and the WSOP wins easily in that matchup. Sorry, guys I couldn't resist the lure of a bracelet. Hopefully I'll work the early shift on Saturday and will be able to come down to the Orleans and hang out afterwards. I bought in with the $500 lammer that I won in a satellite and sold off the other half of my action to various members of the media.
Back to the grind. I'm covering the $5,000 pot-limit hold'em World Championship today and it's a sick field. Negreanu, Brunson, Goehring, Violette and Harman are all within my field of vision from my perch on media row.