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.


At 9:43 AM, Blogger SluggerWV said...

Have a safe trip to Vegas and I hope you have a great time. Best of luck at the tables

At 11:23 AM, Blogger snoopy1239 said...

Thanks, Slugger. I've added your link. :-)


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