Thursday, January 24, 2008

Byronian Days

Byron Bay is lovely this time of year. Hell, it's probably this lovely any time of year, but for now, it's the middle of the summer here in coastal New South Wales. The full-blown summer days of the end of July for us Yanks arrive here in January, and since departing Melbourne on Tuesday, Pauly and I haven't done much besides lying on the beach, drinking pots of the local Aussie brew, playing excessive amounts of Chinese Poker, eating in cafes, and of course, smoking some of the local dank. How we came upon the former is a story unto itself.

Nimbin is a hippie haven in the middle of Bumblefuck, Nowhere. It's about a 60 km drive from Byron on windy, often one-lane roads through rolling green hills. The speed limit on the road is 100 kph , but I could only manage 80 without getting us killed. As I drove, Pauly recounted the story of Senor's trip to Nimbin over a decade ago, where an 8 year old boy, and then a grandmother tried to sell him weed. So it wasn't going to be too much of a hassle to find a qualified salesperson along the town's notorious main drag.

As we entered the town, the first thing I spotted was a head shop called "Bringabong" (a riff on the surf-clothes line Billabong). Dirty hippies roamed the sidewalks and dread-locked rastas with leathery skin played instruments as they hocked their wares. I found a parking space in front of a crumbling wooden bungalow that looked to house at least a half a dozen junkies that likely grew hydroponic weed in the basement. After walking a couple of blocks, I ducked into a dress shop while Pauly executed the "transaction." I was barely through looking at one rack of skirts before he came back and gave me the "mission accomplished" nod. My love was even savvy enough to negotiate the price down 20%.

We made a quick stop at a public loo. When I came out, Pauly had a stricken look on his face.

"Dude... I just saw a three-legged dog."
"I've got bad vibes about this place."
"Yeah, let's get the fuck out of here."

We headed back to the car and sampled the local product. While not as primo as the medicinal nugs I'm used to, it looked soft and fluffy and certainly did the job.

Our days here typically begin with breakfast at one of the local cafes. I had wonderful pancakes at The Balcony, garnished with fresh strawberries and mascarpone cheese and today enjoyed a spinach and goat cheese omelette at Fresh. Brekky is followed by a trip to the beach and some light reading. I've been plowing through Lee Nelson's "Kill Everyone." It's the sequel to his bestselling "Kill Phil" and focuses on advanced tournament and sit-n-go strategies. In a word, it's been enlightening. Post-beach, it's time for the best shower in the world back at the hotel, followed by a trip to a seaside bar where we drink beer and play Chinese poker. Pauly totally whipped me in the afternoon session yesterday, making 21 unanswered points, but in the night session, I convinced him to add deuce-to-seven in the middle hand and I stormed back +19. Ship it!

I got a bit roasty=toasty from the sun yesterday, so much that Pauly is calling me "lobster girl." Alas, it's time to depart this little internet cafe and purchase some sort of floppy hat so I can safely sit in the sand this afternoon and listen to the waves.

Two more days here, then it's on to New Zealand. Pauly wants to jump off a bridge. While I wasn't considering it before, I'm now contemplating joining him...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Jeciimd Makes Day 2 of the Aussie Millions

After all the fuss and drama over the BBT, has anyone noticed and/or written about jeciimd making Day 2 of the Aussie Millions Main Event with a rather healthy stack?

HELLO, people!

I saw him take out the guy on his right early this afternoon. Here's what I wrote about it on Poker News:

Eric "jeciimd" Chadwick Knocks Out a Player

The money went in on the turn, with Chadwick holding {Q-Diamonds}{J-Clubs} and Peter Spann showing {K-Hearts}{9-Spades} on a {9-Diamonds}{8-Diamonds}{2-Spades}{J-Diamonds} board. The river was the {6-Clubs} and Chadwick dragged the pot, eliminating Spann and increasing his stack to well over 60,000.

We've lost over 90 players in the first level of play today and will likely hit the money sometime late this evening. 240 remain, 80 get paid. Tune into Poker News and cheer on our boy!

Photo by Dr. Pauly, courtesy of Poker News


3:45 p.m. Unfortunately, our boy is out. Here's how Pauly reported the hand:

Eric "jeciimd" Chadwick Eliminated

Holding {A-Spades}{A-Clubs}, Eric "jeciimd" Chadwick pushed all in on the turn with three spades showing. His opponent called with {5-Spades}{3-Spades}. Chadwick missed his flush on the river and his opponent won the pot. Chadwick, an olnine qualifier who won AlCantHang's BBT2: Aussie Millions Challenge, was eliminated from the tournament.

Nice run, Eric. At least now you can enjoy Australia!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Annette_15 is Taller Than Amanda Leatherman

Pauly offered me a prop bet today that I thought was a total gimme. It didn't even involve throwing things. We wagered on who was taller-- Annette "Annette_15" Obrestad or Poker Road / Poker News' on-air interviewer Amanda Leatherman-- and I got first pick. Both ladies barely cross the 5' marker, but I was pretty confident in my choice: Annette. Pauly got to judge the contest on-camera.

Check it out for yourself:

Note: If you are reading me in Bloglines, you have to click through to my site to see the video.

You can't hear me in the background, but I'm about three feet off camera behind media row, yelling "SHIP IT!"

Later in the day, we did end up doing a throwing things bet. $20 to hit the trashcan. Will he ever learn? I bought my beloved and Dave beers after the tournament ended for the day with the winnings.

It's day 13 and I'm already totally sick of the food court.

Keep up with all the Aussie Millions nuttiness on Poker News.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Oz Dreams

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.