Saturday, May 31, 2008


Day 4...

Whilst Dana and I await the $1,500 Pot Limit Hold'Em on Monday with the anticipation of an atheist on Death Row, our PokerNews colleagues have been busy beavering away at the opening $10,000 Pot Limit Hold'Em event. Although they could prove elitist, I quite like the introduction of these high buy-in events, if only because there is more potential for a star-studded final table, which in turn will, hopefully, boost the ESPN views that have been sagging so much of late. Of course, at $10k it could possibly take the shine off the main event, which is why I'd like to see them bump up the fee to $15k, or maybe even $20k. If they can attract several thousand for a $10k event. I'm sure the field would remain meaty and satellites popular if they added $5/10k to the asking price.

One thing that I've latched onto this year is the usefulness of the Rio shuttle buses, which commute hourly to other casinos such as Balley's, Paris Paris and Caesar's Palace. Normally I wouldn't have given them a second look, but at several bucks a pop, not to mention the virtually obligatory tip, taxis fees can add up and make a dent in your wallet over a long period of time. The shuttle bus driver made me chuckle today - the journey was only about three minutes, yet he was on the mike like a holiday rep saying things like, "Welcome aboard the Rio shuttle bus, we hope you have a good stay" and "We shall be arriving at our destination very shortly, we wish you the very best of luck". I don't think we'd even left the Rio car park when he said the last one.

On our travels we visited Paris Paris, Balley's, Planet Hollywood and finally the Bellagio, the latter of which I spent a good deal of time in when I covered the 2007 WPT Championship Final. For those who haven't been, the Bellagio is pretty darn exquisite with marble floors, indoor gardens, fantastic fountain display (their biggest expense, I heard) and, much to Dana's joy, a ceiling high chocolate fountain. The atmosphere, although bubbling, seems to be more refined, and everyone acts in a more civilised manner, unlike the Rio where it quickly becomes a cesspool of whooping and hollering as young jocks toss each other off. Whilst admiring the Bellagio interior, we also popped our head into the cardroom where we expected to see a few famous names, but on the whole, the place was dominated by mateyboy with the only familiar face being Marcel Luske. Oh, and, much to Dana's tabloid-loving delight, David Sklansky.

After blowing my roll on blackjack, I convinced Dana to try out one of these aqua massage machines which, as the title implies, uses jet sprays of water to massage your body while you lie patiently in a tank. It's a unique experience to say the least, and apart from tickling my tootsies on every venture south, was rather invigorating. Two little cute Russian girls stood behind the cashier desk, and if Dana hadn't been lurking, I may have wooed them with my boyish charm or, more realistically, cowered like a frightened infant. Either way, I was glad I didn't embarrass myself like one dickhead did as he passed, this American bell-end (should that be hyphenated?) when asked if he wanted a massage replying "What type of massage?" and chuckling away with his buddies as if it was the wittiest jibe they'd ever heard. Fucking twat.

Later we vetoed a night out in the swanky clubs to live it large in the er... Gold Coast casino next door. The temptation of cheap food and a more reserved atmosphere (oh, and we couldn't be bothered to travel further than the next casino along) was too much to resist as we found ourselves pumping the video poker with loose change. If there's one thing I've learnt, it's that the best way to achieve a cheap night is to stick around the one cent slots in these quieter places and just keep ordering cocktails. See, not just a face.

Friday, May 30, 2008


Day 3...

Remember those girls? Well, zip your flies back up because they're yesterday's news, and it looks like we're left with the sorry sight of Billy Connolly, Rowdy Roddy Piper and Rod Paradise as the only known kilt wearers. Sad times indeed.

Today was strictly business (well, and chops) as Dana and I attended a PokerNews meeting at Lucille's Smokehouse BBQ in Henderson. It was a bit of a change heading off strip, and a long awaited first in fact after four trips to Vegas, yet it was worth the wait, as the surburbs really are a treat. Many players who migrated to Vegas recall how they played the strip for the first three months of their tenour, before tiring of the plethora of tourism and sticking to more local jaunts - I believe Jim '777dave' McShane was the same.

Around sixty people will be working the World Series for PokerNews this year, and most of them were at Lucille's. Head honcho John Caldwell gave a standard pep talk, before introducing every single member of the team - rather embarrassing and for some unknown reason I decided to wave with both hands like a gooseberry when I was required to stand. However, the most shocking moment of the meeting was when he announced a 'no shorts' dresscode. Wassup wit dat?! How can I woo the ladies without my chiseled pipes on display, I can't work on charm alone?! I guess I'll just have to roll up my sleeves and invite them to the gun show instead.

After placing an array of meaty treats into a doggy bag (PokerNews spent an impressive $900 on the meal, although I believe they could have rounded it up to a grand), Dana and I headed over to the Rio for the bloggers' meeting with Garry Gates. On route, I spotted Barry Greenstein, Katja Thater, Johnny Chan, Greg Raymer and Jamie Gold in the corridors, so expect to see them in tomorrow's opening $10k Omaha event. I also gave Sorel Mizzi a wave, but I've never been aware of his Omaha prowess, so perhaps he's braced for event two.

The Amazon Room itself is pretty much the same, if perhaps swamped with even more advertorial banners than before. Surrounding the room they've brought back the giant picture banners of previous main event winners, now accompanied by Player of the Year victors, which means Jeff Madsen, Daniel Negreanu and Allen Cunningham will now be peering down at you as you play.

Our blogger (bloggers write, field reporters observe) meeting was an amusing one, predominatly due to the in depth discussion about whether no limit should be capitalised or if cutoff was one word or not (it is, apparently). A big kerfuffle occurred when the issue of 'preflop' and 'postflop' cropped up, but after about thirty minutes of back and forth debate, history was finally made on Orange Table Twelve when it was announced that these words would NOT be hyphenated. Many were delighted, but some were clearly appalled, even suggesting that they would take hostages until the hyphen was returned.

Today also saw Dana and I set up camp in the Rio after two nights in the Orleans. I've never been a fan of the Rio - it's loud, gaudy, crowded, expensive, elitist etc - but it's worth it to save the daily commute. The most annoying thing is that it's inexplicably difficult to find food. At 11.30pm we found ourselves heading back to the Orleans just to grab some cheap tucker in their 24 hour diner. I feel so uncomfortable in the surroundings of the Rio that the serenity of the Orleans was welcomed with open arms. What's more, I had a full breakfast for just $2.95 whilst Dana munched on steak and eggs for $3.95. Now that's value!

Having said that, the rooms at the Rio are impressive. Comfy bed, nice big sofa, floorspace - and what about the view, it takes half an hour to close the curtains of a night! What does concern me, however, is the little window connecting the bedroom to the bathroom. I caught Dana peering through today whilst I was on the kazi like a horny peeping tom or a salivating pervert at a peep show. I had to close the shower door to obstruct her view, but it was a highly disconcerting experience nonetheless.

Although the Series starts tomorrow, Dana and I aren't pencilled in until Monday as updaters are being asked to cover the entirety of each individual event. This most likely means that we'll be working six (or maybe even nine) days straight, so I guess I'll have to make good use of my days off. The bar will be a good start, and maybe even Seamless strip club if I can convince Dana that it's a form of art.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Day 2...

Am at the Orleans, but will be heading over to the Rio tomorrow in preparation for my Alan Patridge-esque stint. Been pretty quiet so far, and there don't seem to be too many Brits around, apart from Neil Channing who has temporarily exchanged the Bellagio for the Vic. Guess I won't be seeing much homegrown talent in Friday's 10k Omaha, although surely the likes of Colclough, Goodwin, Grundy, Ashby and co won't miss that one?...

Still a bit jet lagged, so took it easy today, basically wandering aimlessly around the casinos. Managed to see Mandalay Bay, Excalibur, Hooters, MGM, Tropicana and Luxor, all with expected gaudy themes. Can't work out Mandalay Bay though, is that a place? Is it like Summer Bay? Nope, hold on, just Wikipedia-ed it and apparently it's a South East Asia theme - that's like Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, etc... Hmm, not one of the dealers said they'd been loving me long time, so I'm not convinced.

Somehow was able to walk from Mandalay Bay all the way back to Orleans without dying of dehydration (okay, okay, we stopped off for shelter in the Adult Superstore on the way - needs must when you are a curious cat), but it shows that the weather here is workable, unlike the pending 110+ heatwave of upcoming months.

After a few fruitless spins on the slots and a debut at In-N-Out Burger (surely slimmest menu of any restaurant around), finished the night with a second trip to the flicks to see The Forgotten Kingdom. Nice surprise, not amazing, but still plenty of fun, and great to see Jackie Chan and Jet Li in collaboration, even if their scenes, the ones that were in English and thus didn't require subtitles, really did.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


DAY 1...

Have arrived in Vegas after a worryingly bumpy ride, which stopped me from going to sleep because my head kept bobbing against my seat. Traveled direct with Virgin, which makes a refreshing change from having to connect in some random city and receive the now customary grilling from custom officers who have barely even heard of poker.

The other end I ran into Pete Costa, who confessed to hating the Rio yet reluctantly continuing to play there, and Surinder Sunar, now donning recently acquired moustache. Throw in a Graham Souness perm and he'll be the spit of a Columbian drug baron. Also spotted was Ludovic Lacay and Nicolas Levi, the two Frenchman hungry for bracelets.

Been a lack-lustre opening day. A few drinks, couple of slots and a trip to the cinema to watch Speed Racer was about as exciting as it got. I am donning a new hair-do after an entire year away from the claws of the hairdresser. My barnet was short and blonde this time last year, and now it's short and brown, but I did experience a spurt of growth in between, of which is documented below in my 'Evolution of Beagle' series.

Don't worry though, I'm not a vain person, these pictures were taken for my girlfriend on various occasions throughout the year. I was going to link them together for a youtube clip like those dudes who take a daily photograph of themselves for five years straight, but I didn't think it was worth it for three seconds of footage.

So, here you go, a twelve month cycle of my hair, including, for your amusement, a quickly disposed of gay pirate look. It was sad to see the chops go, but I concluded that John McCririck's looked like old man pubes, so he can keep his 'biggest chops in poker' title, and I think I would have frightened small children if I'd stayed choppy but cut the rest of my hair.

The question is, was the final chop the correct one? A simple yay or nay will suffice, but preferably the former as I am very sensitive. Dana's likes it long, rather than short, but I say it's what I do with it that counts.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Blistering blue Brunsons, is it that time already?! Gosh, I guess it is, and in just two days I'll be heading over to Vegas for what I believe is my fourth (or is it fifth, they morph into one after a while) time and my third consecutive WSOP. Unlike previous years, however, blonde poker won't be making an appearance of any kind. This is unfortunately due to the exclusivity of the PokerNews blog and the restrictions that are put on place on any other media outlet. So, like any other sensible turncoat, I've joined the enemy and will be working the first month for PokerNews. They did ask me to do the whole Series, but after slogging it out for them last September at WSOPE, the mere thought of battling through two months in the Rio cattle market sent a shiver down my spine and right up into my jaxy. Taking the shrewd advice of those Grange Hillers, I just said no. It's nice to be recruited though, rather than having to go hunting for work. PokerNews are pretty darn good at this poker lark, so it makes me feel that I'm actually good at my job when they knock on my door. Indeed, at one point, I was even arrogant enough to gloat to myself (thankfully not to others) that I was perhaps the world's best blogger. It may be true, who knows, but the mere fact that my ego had expanded to such explosive proportions is now seriously disconcerting in hindsight. I guess because my playing career hasn't gone as swimmingly as I'd once hoped, the thought that I was actually good at something, maybe even the best, was rather comforting.

For those who have never worked at the World Series, take it from me, it's a gruelling task, and it doesn't quite sink in until you're a few days in, knackered and suddenly coming to the realisation that you've still got weeks of updating left. Fortunately, I've always been able to get through it without learning to hate my work, but like most arduous jobs, I try to treat it as a challenge and extract as many positives from the experience as possible.

I haven't decided whether I recall it fondly or not yet, but one of my most vivid memories is the HORSE event of 2006. When just two players departed in the entire opening day, I think Jen and I knew we could be in trouble, and the shimmering of bum holes was indeed justified when Day Two's twenty hour (yes, you heard right - twenty hour!) session was followed by a marathon final table that included that epic seven hour heads up war between Andy Bloch and, praise silence, Chip Reese.

What was worse, and I don't mean to criticise the deceased, is that the two remaining players were, on that day anyhow, the two tighest, cagiest competitors I'd ever seen, and neither was willing to give the other an inch. Few pots were raised pre-flop, and I've seen less checks in my local Natwest Bank! Heads up can undoubtedly be the most challenging part of any update because you have to watch the start of every single hand just in case that's the one that finally seals the deal. Maybe Chip just didn't want a big fuss or an overbearing crowd when he triumphed. Well, he certainly achieved that goal as it was 11am in the morning when he snapped up the title and everyone was in bed except the janitor who was sweeping the stage as tumbleweed flew by the players' tootsies.

Although I have a tendency to moan about a job that many poker fanatics would die for, I do appreciate the other side of updating, and that is my encounters with the many characters of the poker world and all the different stories that they produce. Just off the top of my head, I remember Andy Black and Davood Mehrmand (both mad as box of monkeys) enjoying a scrap in last year's Omaha. Phil Laak also entertained me, as did Kevin O'Leary when he was ID-ed in one of the fancy bars as Jen and I strode ahead. The fact that Kevin is well into his thirties was probably the trigger for his bulldog/wasp impression. How about Vinny Vinh, what the hell happened to him? Reckon he'll be here this year, or are we going to have to search the desert again? I can also picture Marc Goodwin storming out of a bracelet comp having tilted off his stack, frustrated with not only how his Series had gone (that's badly by the way), but his entire year under the Mansion brand up to that point. He genuinely was at his wits end and looked like he was ready to quit poker there and then. The fact that he's just won a GUKPT and is flying high shows you how much the tide can turn.

But out of all the people I've met, the one that inexplicably stands out is Jim Pitman. If you don't recognise the name, he's the one that Phil Hellmuth claimed didn't know how to spell poker on one infamous ESPN clip. In fact, that's how he introduced himself when I met him outside the Orleans - I was waiting for a taxi at the time, and he offered me a ride to the Rio in his truck. On route, he told us how he'd become a minor celebrity just because of those fifteen seconds (yes, forget minutes) of fame. He also told us that since then, he's become a millionaire, selling, would you believe, cushioning for the backs of trucks so people can camp in their vehicles. Truly bizarre. I don't know why I remember this dude. Maybe it's because I recognised him from just one single hand, or maybe it's because I was in awe of how someone could become renowned just for being the recipient of a Hellmuth insult. Perhaps, however, it was simply that he was one of the smaller guys, a minnow who was taking on the titans at the grandest stage of them all. That's what I love about the World Series, the fact that players of all calibre and celebrity can lock horns on the same platform, and that sometimes David defeats Goliath or, as this guy did, flukes a hand, gets shouted out by a poker legend, and goes on to become a millionaire in his own right.

Anyhow, Vegas must be just a day away now after all of my waffling, so I'll stop there. What I will tell you is that the PokerNews gig has left me with little time, especially as I still have to undertake my blonde poker administrative duties post updates each day. This makes extensive blog entries a hurdle too many, so instead, I'll be making short daily entries - snappy, brief, and to the point (something I'm not accustomed to). So, keep an eye out for them and speak soon, peeps. Be sure to tap my shoulder if you spot me in the Rio. "Viva las Vegas!" as one aging rock 'n' roll love machine once sang. No, not the Devilfish.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Howdy, all. I noticed recently that I didn't have links to blogs that bore mine. Thanks to those peeps, but please feel free to pester me for an exchange.

In that sense, if anyone would like me to publish a link to their blog, please leave your url in the comments box so I can add them all at the same time rather than individually.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


I drove Dana to the brink of insanity singing that line incessantly throughout the second half of our holiday, but I felt I had good reason to. After enduring several days of discomfort, I finally decided to take my cyst to the doctors. Simultaneously inviting Dana to "watch something gross", Dr Lee proceeded to squeeze out all the gunk that had built up. According to Dana, it was like a thin tube of yellow puss. Nice.

The fluid kept building back up, and Dana kindly took over squeezing duties, but the lack of any constant lump rubbing against my collar and a second prescription of antibiotics seemed to do the trick, thus making the latter part of my holiday that much more enjoyable.

Leaving Chicago behind, we made our way up to Canada to visit Dana's brother in Toronto, taking the odd detour in the process. The three day trip was assisted by AQA whose wisdom (or, more accurately, access to Google) directed us to the Indiana Dunes, National Lakeshore and Cuyahoga Vallery, all of which we duly visited.

AQA certainly have their uses, but can sometimes miss the mark. I asked then why Dana was sulking one morning and the response was as follows: "Dana was sulking this morning when you left the hotel because you forgot to tell her how beautiful she looked. She wants you to give her more attention." So, in response, I offered my hand and complimented Dana's beauty, to which she replied, "Fuck off". I would have been impressed if AQA had answered "painters are in", but they can't get it right all of the time.