Sunday, June 29, 2008


Days 29 & 30…

This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end

Another year, another World Series, yes, I’ve come to the end of my Vegas tenure and now write to you from the comfort of my own upright British chair.

Expensive prices, claustrophobic surroundings, jocks whooping on the craps tables, male strippers in bow ties, gaudy burlesque shows, loud music, and a ghastly car that hovers above while some skank throws beads down – if I could imagine a run in hell, a month of the Rio would be at the forefront of my mind. So, for the last two days, Dana and I decided to escape the confines of our prison and move into the New York New York Hotel down the road.

Sandwiched between the Excalibur and MGM casinos, the New York New York (I’m already tiring of typing that twice) was surprisingly pleasant and boasted a serenity that the Rio sorely lacked. Of course, the forced theme was inevitably gaudy at times (one sign reads ‘Authentic New York Pizza’), but it presents everything in a less ‘in-your-face’ manner, meaning that if need be, you can escape to a far corner for a moment’s peace.

The view from the bedroom window was incredible, if a little different to that of the Rio, in that it boasted the majority of the rollercoaster. The muffled screams were reminiscent of a game of Rollercoaster Tycoon on the PC, and every time they sounded I would peer out the window to confirm that this was indeed real life. That’s when I notice the Statue of Liberty staring back at me.

Now I’m back in Birmingham, I’m finding it hard to adjust. After becoming accustomed to heading down the Rio of a day, working long hours and hitting the sack unconscious, the pace here seems incredibly slow and part of me is itching to get back in the game. I’m sure those feelings will expire when I start covering UK events again, but whilst the Series is still running, I can’t help but feel as though I’m missing out.

The jet lag upon return has been tough to handle. I tried to watch Mongol with Dana yesterday, but passed out about half way through. It was only five o’clock. I recall it took me about a fortnight to recover a couple of years back, but I hope it doesn’t take that long this time. I have lots I want to do, and I can’t afford to waste time feeling sleepy during daylight hours.

I’ve been trying to work out a suitable way of finishing my WSOP account, and concluded that it would be best to compare it to my previous visits. Well, apart from a few minor changes, the experience was pretty much the same. A big giant room with lots of poker – that really is about the size of it. You might witness a few differences, such as the heightened organisation, the eradication of the tent, a few new stalls and so on, but who cares, poker is about the characters, and as always, they remain the same. Scotty still says “baby”, Doyle still hobbles around, Sklansky still accompanies a random teenage girl, Phil Ivey still puts more than first prize on the game on the plasma screen, Mike Matusow is still centre of attention, Phil He11muth is still a twit, Erick Lindgren is still a smug git, Gus Hansen is still a ladies’ man, Bill Chen is still a nerd, Jennifer Tilly is still sizzling hot, TJ Cloutier is still losing a fortune at craps, Howard Lederer is still huge, Dutch Boyd is still speaking to the voices in his head, Roland de Wolfe is still wearing the ghastliest of shirts, Patrik Antonius still boasts the chiselled features of a Michaelangelo masterpiece, Greg Raymer still dons shorts, sandals and white socks, Marcel Luske is still stark raving mad, Davood Mehmrand is still psychotic, Freddy Deeb is still knee high to an oompa loompa, Andy Black still looks like he just got out of bed, Devilfish is still dressing like a teenager, Chris Ferguson is still the carrot-chopping messiah, Allen Cunningham is still unbeatable, Todd Brunson still looks like a pony from the back, Dave Singer is still a pain in the ass and the Brits still suck at poker.

Unless Doyle finally pops his clogs within the next twelve months, WSOP 2009 will be exactly the same… but that’s why we love it so.

I hope you enjoyed my WSOP blog, it sure was tough to maintain, so much in fact that I think I need a rest. I don’t know when I’ll post on the blog again, if at all. Writing a blog can be time-consuming at times, and I’m wondering if maybe this should be my last post. I’ve always tried to bring my readers an honest account of all things poker related, whether that be Vegas, my travels around Europe, or my own personal experience with a game that deals out so many beats. I’ve done this without shoving banners, advertising or anything commercial down your face because the pure essence of poker is important to me. Although we embrace the poker boom, we also need to keep a hold of the reality… It’s just a game of cards.

See you around.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Day 28...

It‘s strange when you’ve worked for a month in the Rio and it suddenly ends. You become so accustomed to the Amazon Room that it becomes a home of sorts, somewhere you belong and feel comfortable. What’s more, it’s hard to switch off, to stop thinking about the game. For the past four weeks, my head has been polluted with poker, and I think it’s going to take a while before it begins to heel.

With our final day being the Sunday, we had just two days of free time in Vegas before heading back on Wednesday morning. It was Dana’s birthday on the Monday and I tried all week to get her tickets for the Penn and Teller Show on either Monday or Tuesday. Everyday I would approach the ticket machine and each time was told that tickets were unavailable for these days. I took this as meaning that the tickets weren’t on sale yet, especially as they presented it as a selectable date on the calendar, but it was simply that these were the days of the week that Penn and Teller didn’t work. I don’t know who sod is and how he got into politics, but I hate the fucker.

Nevertheless, Dana celebrated her birthday at the steakhouse in New York New York, eating steaks bigger than her head (that’s pretty big) before heading to the Voodoo Lounge where she drank a cocktail that was bigger than Hellmuth’s head (that’s even bigger). I’ve blogged about the Voodoo Lounge before, but must repeat that the view is excellent and worth the entry fee alone. Sadly, the bar fees are negative ev and I nearly fainted when I received no change for ten bucks after ordering a vodka and coke. I think I stood their waiting for a good few minutes before realising.

Afterwards, we headed down to Spearmint Rhino with Kara Scott, Nick Wetherall, ‘McLovin’ Gary Clark, Danny Ryan Jen and Rod and Marc Convey. McLovin in particular appeared pretty uncomfortable with the idea, and didn’t appreciate it when Dana encouraged a stripper to sit on his lap. Although McLovin was stubborn in his refusal, his pleas seemed to fall on stony ground as the stripper refused to move. After the umpteenth request, she did alight from his lap, but called him “lame” as she departed. I thought that was a bit rude and actually felt sorry for McLovin.

I was equally as uneasy with my surroundings as McLovin and made my exit shortly after arriving. I’ve been to a number of strip clubs before, Seamless was a frequent venue of choice during 2007, but just didn’t feel comfortable being in a strip club with my girlfriend. Not sure why, and I daren’t delve deeper into the reasons.

I was ill during the night and threw my guts up a couple of times, which was odd as I’d only had one drink all night. I hoped that it was something I ate, because if it wasn’t, then I fear my long hours, unhealthy diet and stress of trying to juggle multiple have finally caught up with me. There are a lot of people trying to make a living our of poker journalism. Whilst many of them are lazy fuckers, a handful are some of the hardest working people you will ever meet, so hard-working in fact that sometimes they forget to look after themselves. I think that may have happened to me.

Friday, June 27, 2008


Day 27…

Thankfully, poker is a game of hope, of clasping your hands together, praying to the poker gods and knowing that it any one given hand, one player can get aces, and the other kings. Sadly, I still think these buggers would have checked it down.

Yes, as I covered my final day of this year’s World Series, the two remaining players in the $2,500 Six-Handed No Limit Hold’Em Freezeout would ensure that my swan song was a gruelling affair, and one that would take longer than ten consecutive performances of the Miserables.

It didn’t start off too well, our plucky Brits displaying a low level of pluckiness to become the first two players to walk the plank, Ben Roberts failing to improve his shortstack whilst a disgruntled Michael Greco encountered a cooler best suited for your fridge freezer than the poker table.

But little did we know that after whittling the field down to just Davidi Kitai and Chris Bell (thankfully simple names to write), it would take a further six days to find our winner. It was check galore as few hands were raised preflop, no reraise bluffs were made along the streets and if someone dared to bet out, the other chap would cower in the corner like a eunuch in the locker room.

Although it was a dull affair, it was an affair for much money and prestige nonetheless, and the players had a right to tread with as much caution as their heart desired. What they didn’t have to be subjected to, however, was heckling from the crowd that came in the form of Gavin Smith, Layne Flack and co. I think the interest lied in that Erick Lingren had a percentage of Chris Bell, but either way, the pros were in full force to add a slice of familiarity to the stands.

I’m guessing he has some kind of attention disorder, because Layne Flack has to be one of the biggest “look at me” merchants in poker. At every opportunity, he opted to shout out random shit, whether it be towards the players, the announcer or whoever, he sought the need to make sure his voice was heard. Meanwhile, he would pay no attention to the game itself, his disrespect going as far as taking out a pack of cards and playing Chinese Poker with his buddies, one of whom was Joseph Tehan. At one point, the camera panned down on Tehan playing cards, which led to Gavin Smith commenting out loud, “Hey Chris, they’re having to put the camera on us because you guys are so boring.” To me, that’s just rude. If you don’t like it, why don’t you just fuck off?

Our eventual winner was Davidi Kitai. Shaking hands rather than over-celebrating seems to be a thing of the past these days, but either way, Kitai was elated with his victory and received a group hug from the ensuing Frenchmen who invaded the stage. The “Davidi” chants continued right up to the receiving of the bracelet where the Belgian raised his bling aloft, the smile on Benjo’s face a mile wide as he applauded the first ever Winamax WSOP champion.

Prior to his winning hand, I heard calls of “Un fois” (“one time” for those who skipped their French GCSE), which reminded me of day two’s penultimate hand where Kitai had won a coinflip for his tournament life. He called “un fois” then, so I wondered how many “un fois”s it was possible to have in one tournament. Was that even his first “un fois”, or had he belted out the command numerous times throughout the day? His second “un fois” seemed to be equally effective, even though it was logically incorrect, yet he was rewarded anyhow. Was he in league with the poker gods, did they owe him multiple favours, or maybe, just maybe, do they not exist? I severely hope it’s not the latter as I’ve been mentioning them in updates as if they were my next door neighbours.

Back online, xdragon had finally disappeared, an impostor going under the cunning pseudonym xxdragon silencing our foe with shoutbox comments such as “I will not be a jerk any more” and “I will stop being rude to the updaters”. These more than made my day and I could almost picture the so-far unmet xdragon squirming in his seat. It doesn’t take much to please me though, just the completion of a marathon heads up encounter and the silencing of three bell ends, two in the stands and one on the net. Sadly, the ones in the stands were allowed to continue, but I guess that’s the elitism of poker – if you’re famous, you can do and say whatever you want.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Day 25...

Damn, accidentally deleted my word doc. I can assure you it was highly fascinating though.

Day 26…

The start of the day commenced with profanities from Michael Greco as the former soap star was told that he wouldn’t be allowed to play due to having no ID. He had credit card, player’s card, bus pass, Eastender’s reunion tickets but no picture ID, and thus was told to fuck off. “That’s bullshit,” said Greco politely. “I made a genuine mistake. I’m going to get blinded away,” he continued. “All the players know me, the press know me, can’t you let me play?”

Although his pleas initially fell on stony ground (the supervisor had clearly had a bad week and wanted to fuck someone over), the Gecko spotted another supervisor across the other side of the room who was… drum roll please… female.

Moments later, and Michael was back at the table and ready for action, ID-less, yet comforted by his ability to charm a rabid wolverine into submission. He may no longer be frequenting our screens three times a week, or donning the front page as the latest subject of tabloid cannon fodder, but when it comes to the ladies, the old boy’s still got it. (38, by the way, they announced it on the final.)

Sushi Heaven

I’m not sure how many people know about this, but hidden away in a corner is an all you can eat sushi. For $30 you can consume as much sushi as your stomach can take. One tip though, if you’re going during the dinner break, order all the food at once. When we sat down, the place filled up, and it took ages for our second and third order to arrive. By the time we’d left, we’d been there for 1hr15mins. Nonetheless, they cook it fresh, and it tastes excellent. What really baffles me is how sushi in the middle of the desert can be fresher than the kind you find in London just a 50 miles from the sea.

In other news, I finally found the secret loo that Pauly of Tao of Poker had been using. Damn it, I’m 26 days too late.


As the ten remaining players in the $2,000 Pot Limit Hold’Em Freezeout slimmed to one table, we only had one more to go and were hoping for an early finish Over two hours later and we were still there, the shortstack clinging on with the stubbornness of a resistant cat on his way to the veterinary.

Another reason for the delay was Robert Cheung, and according to Ben Roberts, Ayaz Mahmood was responsible too. With Benjamin Zamani raising it up preflop, Cheung came over the top only for a short-stacked Keith Greer to push in for a few dollars more. Ayaz Mahmood and Zamani both called, only for Cheung to push all in and isolate. With the other players getting out of the way, Greer showed queens (ok, fair enough) and Cheung K-Q (yep, okay… no, hold on, WTF!!!).

The rest of the table were understandably up in arms, and even a random member shouted out ‘what an idiot’ (how he wasn’t escorted out, I’ll never know). Of course, the queens stood up, and Cheung received a hammering from Mahmood who had folded kings (WTF again!!!). Fellow shortstacks Davidi Kitai and Michael Greco looked at each other in dismay whilst the press sighed at the prospect of another hour of ten-handed play.

However, I can’t complain too loudly, as come the final day, Cheung handed us a bag full of sugary goodies to thank us for adding him to the chip counts. Whether it makes up for keeping us behind for longer than we needed to be, I’ve yet to decide.


Anyone ever heard of a female player called Cycalona? How about if I added the name Gowen? Yep, according to the player list, that’s Clonie Gowen’s full name. Where that comes from, I’ve no idea. It’s certainly not Brummie.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Day 23…

The final of the 6-handed was a mixed bag, fast paced early doors but tortoise slow three-handed. We were treated to an array of bad beats, outdraws and general up the bum hole penetration, although no player in particular directed their protruding rod.

The most eye-brow raising beats cropped up with three left. With Justin Filtz and Seth Fischer going raise crazy, the latter saw his A-K flop a king and turn a third against Filtz’s aces. Security required a crowbar to remove Filtz’s stunned carcass from the stage floor, but they eventually scooped him up.

Heads up, it was Dario Minieri’s turn to deal the suckout blow, his 4-3 (oops) all in against Fischer’s kings hitting two fours on the end to stay alive, and eventually take the title. In fact, looking back, Fischer should have been third, Minieri second and the poker gods first, although I’m not sure how multiple winners, or divine beings for that matter would share a bracelet.

One aspect that amused me during this three-handed affair was when the boisterous Italian fans on the rail started complaining to the tournament director of collusion between the other two players. The very next hand, Fischer eliminated Filtz. The Italians didn’t complain after that. I suppose it’s such a shock when it’s not going Dario’s way that someone must be cheating somewhere, surely?

Whist dashing back and forth to the loo during the breaks, I bumped into a number of new faces. Many of them were Brits, so it seems as though we’re starting to make our presence felt over here. Mickey Wernick, Kevin O’Leary, Craig Wildman, Paul Jackson, Simon Trumper, Michael Greco, Joe Beevers – all turned up in recent days.

Day 24….

Woohoo, day-off! The only problem with our day off is that we’re so tired from updating an event that we end up sleeping through the afternoon, which isn’t the best preparation when you have to get up at 10.30am the next morning. You need two days off really otherwise you just can’t adapt to any kind of sleeping cycle.

Anyhow, we did manage to rise at a semi-decent hour and get ourselves down to the Sahara to have a stab at the Speed rollercoaster. I was quite surprised, although it’s in a less affable area of the Strip, the Sahara isn’t too bad, and would probably be one of the best value hotels to stay in if you were searching for something cheap.

What strikes me as bizarre about the Sahara is how Nascar Racing can possibly fit into the Egyptian desert theme, but I guess money talks in Vegas and the price was right. Either way, it’s allowed them to stick a racing car theme onto the back of the casino where this Speed ride is, and Dana and I, being the speed junkies that we are, couldn’t resist giving it a bash.

After the soiling experience of the Big Shot at the Stratosphere, I thought I was prepared for anything, but little did I know that during mid conversation about whether or not my harness was secure, the roller coaster car would shoot off without warning at a squillion miles per hour.

Twists, turns and loops later and we were heading back, this time in reverse after reaching the end of the track. Surely that’s just laziness on their part to send you back the way you came instead of completing the track, but I guess it saves them a few bucks.

Although the reverse journey made me want to throw up bile onto the people in front, the ride as a whole was very entertaining, if brief, and just as fun-filled as the Big Shot and the New York New York rollercoaster. If I had to pick one though, it would probably be the Big Shot, if only for it’s sheer scare factor.

The Sahara was just the start of a casino crawl. On our day off we also visited the Wynn, Treasure Island, Mirage and Flamingo casinos, the latter of which advertised ‘burlesque dancers’ which involved two skanks pole dancing, before finally setting up camp in the lesser known Bill’s Gamblin Hall & Saloon.

We stopped here because there was a poker game going, albeit in the world’s smallest cadroom (it has space for two tables). Sadly, I lost $238, but Dana managed to get her big hands paid off a couple of times and left with $120. Not great, but could be worse, I haven’t told her yet, but Dana and I have a joint account when it comes to poker and er… me losing.

Friday, June 20, 2008


Day 21…

Oh, Almost Forgot

The achievements of Samuel Singer captivated me so much that I forgot to report that I played my first hand of poker on day 20 since being in Vegas. I see so many hands throughout the week that I tend to veer away from playing cash games and tournaments in my free time, but in order to obtain my hotel player’s discount, I made an exception and played the nightly $340 event in the Brasilia room.

While I was queuing to buy in, who should hobble in and join the back of the queue but none other than Doyle Brunson. It was strange, as if Michael Jackson had moon walked into the room, everyone just turned around and stared. Personally, I was just amazed that someone like Doyle still had to queue for anything poker related, reminded me of when Phil Ivey came up behind me in the hotdog stand two years back.

I won’t bore you with the details, but I departed right at the death of level three, and thus didn’t even make it to the break in one piece. I did feel this was a potentially lucrative tournament though, and if I had the roll I’d happily play these every night rather than the bracelet events. With a 5,000 starting stack, it might even be better than some of the smaller WSOP comps.

So That’s How He Does It

The day after was day one of my fourth live update, the six-handed $2,500 No Limit Hold’Em Freezeout. I was glad to be covering this event more than others because I thought there’d be more pros playing, more hands to report and, god willing, shorter days. All three of these premonitions emerged true by the end of play.

I don’t normally like to litter my blog with hands, but one in particular caught my eye during this event. Near the end of the opening day, Dario Minieri raised it up to 3,2000 from early position, mateyboy made it 10,000, Dario repopped to 22,000 and mateyboy pushed all in.

Dario paused momentarily before announcing “Well, I guess I’m committed” and making the call. Whilst Dario could only muster pocket deuces, his opponent had him dominated with kings. A king on the flop looked to have it sewn up, but running clubs gave Dario the flush.

Ooooh, nasty, as Knightmare’s Tregar would say. Even Dario was taken aback, running his little legs over to fellow countryman Max Pescaroti to share his tale of anal buggery. They use the term ‘backdoor’ for a reason you know.

Bjorin Again

As you may already know, I publish all WSOP results on the blonde poker homepage and always highlight ‘top names’, ‘Brits’ and ‘Europeans’, but Harrah’s don’t make it an easy task when Chris Bjorin is down as coming from England, David Benyamine from Las Vegas and Gus Hansen from Monaco. Why they go by their current residence rather than their nationality, I have no idea, no one cares where they live, but we may be interested to hear if a fellow countryman is running well.

I guess we can’t complain, we had two Brits on the final table last year - yes, Philip Hilm is as English as Big Ben… apparently.

Day 22…

Control V

Fuck me, there are some big names in poker, but Michael Chrisanthopoulos at a mammoth 24 letters has to be one of the biggest. If it’s not the biggest, then it’s certainly the most fucking awkward to write, so awkward in fact that we nicknamed him ‘control v’.

When you’re tired, seeing two flops instead of one, and trying to rid your vision of patches of green from staring at the felt for too long, writing down names with more than three or four consonants suddenly becomes a military operation. If those consonants are consecutive, you’re officially screwed. Every time our field reporters gave us a hand with this dude on (I refuse to repeat his name to spare myself of arthritis), he was written as Michael Chrisalphabet and, eventually, MC.

I should always remain unbiased, but I was mighty relieved when he fell short of the final table. Hand-for-hand with Michael Chrisalphabet is the stuff of nightmares. I dream of a final with Smith, Jones, Brown and so on, but as long as Greeks and Scandinavians are in the game, I think I’ll have to get used to using that ‘control v’ button on a regular basis.

Speaking of player’s names, one of our reporters has rather suspect handwriting, so I had to ask him for confirmation of a player’s name. “Is this Chen or Chiu?” I asked. “Chau,” he replied. Christ, why don’t they throw a Chan into the comp too and really test me.

Fins Don't Come Cheap

Obviously, I can’t reveal my source, but I was told today that as Patrik Antonius’s Martins Poker contract was drawing to a close, he was approached by Ray Bitar and encouraged to join the rest of the poker world on the Full Tilt bandwagon. “How much will it cost?” he was asked. Patrik’s reply? “You can’t afford me.” Gotta love his confidence. It’s probably for the best though, I mean, how the fuck could they squeeze another player into one of those posters?

On a sidenote, I was also informed that Patrick isn't quite as arrogant and pompous as one might initially think. Apparently, he's actually a timid guy, and when he first shot to fame, his English was severely limited. Instead of communicating, he therefore decided to keep stum and say as little as possible, which sometimes made him appear unfriendly. Often when poker players are thrust into the spotlight, we can make character assassinations. Maybe this is one that some people got wrong.

Beam Me Up Scotty

As we approached the final table bubble with the likes of Dario Minieri and Scotty Nguyen still in tact, I was looking forward to a fun-filled last day. However, the latter of those two players would sadly snap up the unwanted seventh spot and hit the deck on the last hand of the day.

I say sadly, because Scotty Nguyen is without doubt one of the most entertaining players in the game, and also my favourite poker player period. Although it’s considerably easier when you’re as affluent as he is, Scotty is always smiling, enjoying himself and doing whatever he can to have a good time. At one point during day one of this event, he event bought his table a round of beers. This gathering of players became by far the loudest of any of the tables as Scotty’s infectuous good vibes spread.

With players like Annie Duke and Phil Hellmuth, a lot of what they do is for the cameras, but Scotty is different, he remains his happy-go-lucky self whether the cameras are in view or not. I don’t think there is anyone in the game who appreciates, and even tolerates, the fans as much as he does. With two tables left, one moron approached him as they were colouring up and asked for a photo, and even though it was past midnight with the big money looming, Scotty happily obliged.

What I love the most about Scotty, however, isn’t that he calls even the butchest of opponents “baby”, but the simple fact that he looks like a cross between Mr T and the Fonz with a smidgen of Jimmy Saville thrown in for good measure. I mean, is there any other player in the game who could successfully pull off a vest, white trousers and multiple medallions combo, not to mention a hairdo that borders on the mullet? Seriously, just picture the Devilfish walking in dressed like that. Actually, I wouldn’t put it past him.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Day 20...

Annette who? Jeff what? Steve Billa walla bing bang? Forget all of those old fogies, because there’s a new kid in town. At the tender age of one day, Samuel Singer has become the World Series of Poker’s youngest bracelet winner by taking down Event 25½’s $50,000 Crazy Pineapple Jokers Wild 2-7 Lowball High-Low-Middle rebuy event.

To prepare his offspring for battle, proud father David Singer employed the services of one of the game’s greatest ‘buy a bracelet’ specialists, Daniel Negreanu. Utilising years of spending experience, Kid Poker armed the rookie’s diapers with 100 billion dollars and urged him to keep calling for rebuys until he had every tournament chip in the casino.

Heeding the advice of his one man coaching team, Samuel Singer hit the rebuy button a record 1,239 times until he had bought himself the chip lead. Although the rebuy period was drawing to a close, the mammoth 12 man field had already been bisected in half leaving us with our final table of six:

Seat 1: Samuel Singer
Seat 2: Scotty Nguyen
Seat 3: Annie Duke
Seat 4: Phil Ivey
Seat 5: Gus Hansen
Seat 6: JC Tran

At this point, one may wonder how a young upstart playing in his first live event would be able to topple a line-up of such calibre without the cushion of a rebuy, but Singer Snr had recently watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and had a few tricks up his sleeve.

The first evidence of these tactics emerged when David reeled in a giant industrial magnet. Nobody knew what was happening, but when Scotty’s medallions started to quiver it all became clear. In the space of a few seconds, Scotty was sent hurtling towards the magnet like a jet propelled whippet, his face wobbling relentlessly as the G force took control.

As Annie Duke gulped nervously, little did she know that she would be next to face the Singer wrath. As quick thinking as ever, Singer grabbed a TV camera from a member of crew and entered the stage area. As soon as she spotted the glint of the lens, Duke was hypnotised, and Singer was able to lure her out of the cardroom with the ease of a champion snake charmer.

With Duke gone, her next door neighbour would soon follow, Phil Ivey leaping from his seat like an epileptic salmon as Singer turned on ESPN on the plasma screen. Apparently, Ivey had five squillion dollars riding on the Hell Bay Bakers winning the world tiddly winks playoff finals with another five on Tobey Dryant being top scorer. Ivey just couldn’t take his eyes off the big game, and his stack was eventually blinded away.

With three remaining, Singer needed a way to rid the table of Gus Hansen, a danger in any game. However, this was to prove an easy task, Singer rounding up the Milwaukee Best Light girls and having them parade around the corridors in their short denim skirts. Like a shark detects blood, Hansen’s nostrils started to flare as he was alerted to the teenage norkage loitering outside and within seconds the Great Dane was gone.

Heads up and it was Samuel Singer being pitted against one of today’s greatest players in JC Tran. Samuel Singer turned to his father for assistance, but pops was helpless. There was nothing on Tran, no weaknesses to prey on, no nothing – he didn’t even like tiddly winks!

Then, out of the blue, it dawned on him, and like a seasoned war veteran, Singer began to concoct his cunning plan. Pulling out his mobile, Singer scrolled down his list of contacts, scoured through the twenty Nguyens before reaching JC Tran’s name.

After being given the nod by his father, Samuel Singer proceeded to move all in until he was eventually called by Tran. Whilst Samuel could only muster 7-2 off, Tran had him by the short and curlies with pocket rockets.

Out came the A-A-K flop. Tran had flopped quads. The bracelet is his!

“Ring! Ring!” sounded Tran’s phone at the feature table. Tran pulled his out his mobile and turned it off.

The deuce turn did nothing but rub salt in already open Samuel Singer wounds. As Tran went to shake his opponent’s mitten, the dealer reached for the academic river…

“STOP!!!” exclaimed Singer. The dealer’s hand froze, the river card loitering in mid-air. “Tran touched his phone. His hand should be dead!” he continued. “If his hand isn’t declared dead, I shall boycott this event and tell all my friends that Harrah’s are poopy heads.”

As Jeffrey Pollack blew the dust off the rules book and flicked through both pages, it was announced that although he thought Singer was angle-shooting, he couldn’t possibly handle a reputation as a poopy head, so consequently declared Tran’s hand dead.

Tran was livid, and demanded to be bought back into the event tomorrow. The Singers, meanwhile, celebrated in front of the spotlight as the first ever father and underage son bracelet winners, Singer raising his baby boy aloft and even shedding a tear of joy as Tran was forced to exit the stage.

We had our winner, Samuel Singer, the latest big name player to don one of those sparkling gold bracelets which will be appearing on ebay in the very near future. Young padawan, may I tip my proverbial bonnet to you.

Monday, June 16, 2008


Day 18…

Day two of the $2,000 No Limit Hold’Em Freezeout took me into the Brasilia room for the first time. I’m unsure as to why they haven’t used these rooms before as it’s a perfect substitute, or, in this incident, appendix to the Amazon Room. In fact, it’s almost like a miniature version, which somehow makes it more pleasurable to work in. Sometimes, I think the sheer vastness of the Amazon Room and constant hustle and bustle can be a discomforting and overwhelming experience.

There were few big names remaining in this event, but it did boast a handful of Brits. Although Dave Barnes, Graham Wheldon and Mike Ellis all went deep, none left with much more than their entry fee and the hunt for the bracelet continues.

There was one kid who was causing a fuss throughout both opening days. Every time he was in a pot, he’d shout profanities and spurt out random shit that the whole room could hear. If he won, he exploded, striding around the room screaming. Sometimes it was genuinely hard to work out if he’d won the hand or not.

Apparently, there’s meant be a new rule being implemented this year to prevent over-celebration after the Neanderthal actions of that bozo Hevad Khan. Sadly, I didn’t see it used effectively here as said nutter wasn’t ejected until he threatened Graham Wheldon deep into day two. In my opinion, disciplinary action should have taken place the day before.

It would seem that I’m not the only one who finds time-keeping in Vegas a disorientating experience.

Rod : “I left the casino one night expecting it to be dark, but the sun was beaming.”

Dana : “Sometimes I go out for a cigarette just to see what part of the day we’re in.”

Day 19…

The final of the $2,000 was won by Blair Hinkle, who, along with brother Grant Hinkle who had won event two just ten days earlier, became the first ever brother sibling to win bracelets. Nolan Dala had his best statisticians (well, himself on Google) working profusely to confirm, and it would appear it’s a first. We’ve had Tilly/Laak, Duke/Lederer, Doyle/Todd and Matusow/Negreanu (they dated a while back) for various other combinations, but, incredibly, never two brothers. Perhaps granny Hinkle could come down next year and take down the ladies’ event.

Although Blair was undoubtedly a talented player and fully deserving of his win, I did feel that both him and his army of fans on the rail lacked a certain level of decorum. There was one hand where Blair hit a set to eliminate Daniel O’Brien in third with sixes versus eights. The Blairites chanted for a six, and when it hit they erupted. Blair leapt up and down, high fived his buddies and generally took the pot as loudly as possible. Maybe it’s just me, but over-celebrating just isn’t frowned upon here, no matter how much it bothers me. Personally, if I get lucky and dump a guy out after making a shoddy call, I’m actually embarrassed about fluking an outdraw and would rather opt to take it quietly. Maybe I’m just too British.

What was most extra-ordinary, however, was that some of the rail would bark and shout ‘sickdog’ at regular intervals. This is because James Akenhead, who came second to Grant earlier on in the Series, uses the moniker ‘sickdog’ and Blair’s middle name is James. Nice, a ten day rub-down for someone who dominated heads up before having his A-K fucked over by T-4. Again, when there’s so much money floating around, it’s surely common decency not to rub salt in open wounds.

The whoop is by far one of the world’s most annoying sounds. I hear it every time I pass the craps tables on the way to the cardroom, but at least it’s taking money from the casino rather than a player’s hands. The main event’s the worst, as people are all too aware of the roaming cameras and will erupt at the first available opportunity to try and get some TV time. Attention-seeking at its worst.

Each time I finish covering event, another one starts two days later. After updating four of the buggers, it now becoming a grind and I’m dreading doing the 6-handed. I hope I don’t come to despise this game before my time here is done. After all, no one wants to hate doing their job.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Day 15…

The night before, I managed just four hours sleep and woke up feeling shit and looking like I’d done twelve rounds with Tyson. On my way down to the cardroom, I ran into JJ Hazan who was dining alone at the breakfast diner. He told me that Sam Trickett had won $85k the night prior on Full Tilt even though he’d been disconnected heads up. He then ran through the history of tournament, but I blanked out and nodded my head at regular intervals.

Again, the final table of the shootout was on the outer tables, which meant that we couldn’t just do a robotic hand-for-hand update, sitting on our asses listening to the announcer announce the hands. Instead, we had to run back and forth like maniacs, simultaneously trying to add some colour that we were simply too tired to add, whilst also receiving abuse in the shoutbox as to how we made a typo back on page three.

After the previous night, I didn’t expect this final table to be an eventful one, and until heads-up, it was nothing out of the ordinary. The only saving grace was Mike Schwartz (pictured). There are a handful of players (Hellmuth, Tony G, Matusow to name a few) who make updating easy, and Schwartz is no different. Whenever he was involved in a hand, he would laugh and joke with his opponents, ask them probing questions and generally do his very best to heighten the banter. In a way, these guys write the report for you, all you have to do is echo what they say into your post.

Although heads up proved to be another marathon, it was thankfully an entertaining affair, predominantly because of Schwartz’s monumental comeback. After winning what he believed to be the bracelet winning hand, Jason Young high-fived the hood on the rail, kissed the dealer and even, I believe, picked up the bracelet at one point. However, little did he know that Schwartz was still in with a paltry 150,000, of a possible 10,000,000 chips, with blinds at 60,000 and 120,000.

In what was an incredible sequence of events that sent the rail into a frenzy, Schwartz doubled up not once, not twice, not three times (a lady?), but four consecutive times to almost level in chips. Schwartz was loving it. Young, meanwhile, had a face like a firmly spanked bottom.

As is always the case after a such a gargantuan comeback, Schwartz lost it all in one go to a simple 4-4 vs. A-J coinflip. The relief on Young’s face was there for everyone to see, and I genuinely believe we would have been on suicide watch if he had lost.

The conclusion to this event brought to an end what was a twelve hour final and over thirty hours of play, an incredible feat for a two day tournament. The event basically swallowed my last two days. On the final, there was plenty going on in the Amazon Room, and I frequently wished I were watching the 7-2 lowball event instead, if only for the banter that was being bounced around by the most star-studded of casts.

When I got back to my room, I looked like I’d just done overtime at the 100 Year War. I went to sleep before my head even hit the pillow.

Day 16…

After a two day shootout turned into an epic battle against Father Time, I spent most of yesterday sleeping and didn’t rise until 5pm. Then it was back down to the Amazon Room to finish off some blonde work.

I ran into Roy ‘The Boy’ Rindley on the way, he’s a sick man. Apparently, he landed just a few hours ago, but is heading back home for a meeting before jumping on a plane and returning to Vegas. Crazy. For a man who had trouble at customs and was refused entry a few years back, you think he’d want to limit his transatlantic ventures as much as possible.

Back in the Amazon Room, the big 7-2 deuceball final was inexplicably not on the TV table. Apparently, it has something to do with insurance, but that must have been rectified at some point as they moved it in front of the cameras half way through. No idea what was going on there, but I would have loved to have watched that final on the box.

The Amazon Room is a cesspit of gossip, many of it unrepeatable in my blog without the promise of police protection. However, I was told today by a reliable source that Annie Duke, who once coached Shannon Elizabeth, is now dating Shannon’s ex boyfriend. I wonder if Shannon’s regretting asking for those coaching sessions now.

Speaking of Shannon Elizabeth, I’ve been considering trying my luck and giving her a spin. I think I’m going to have to give up on Kristy Gazes and Jennifer Tilly, but if that American Pie dude can get Shannon, then I should be in with a shot. I’m much cooler than him and have never even considered experimenting sexually with pasty based products.

In other gossip, I also received confirmation that Gus Hansen is a big ladies man, or, in other words, a bit of a slut. That one really didn’t need confirming.

Oh, what the hell, one more slice of gossip pie – I saw Ted Forrest and Anna Wroblewski holding hands and looking all luvvy duvvy. Odd pairing, but I guess they’re courting. Actually, forget I said that, who cares. If Phil Hellmuth is boning Kathy Liebert, Gobboboy shafting Clonie Gowan or Freddie Deeb doing a number on Evelyn Ng - is anyone really interested? Okay, I guess we would be with those pairings.

Max Pescatori has been carrying his arm in a sling throughout the Series. There seems to be a bit of mystery to how he garnered this injury, and he is not keen to reveal its origin. When he was asked, he hesitated momentarily before joking, “I was in the toilet and tried to hold it with one hand instead of two.” That would never happen to me, the guns can withhold the weight of any sized instrument.

I didn’t get to bed until after 5.30am, mainly because I’d risen so late in the morning after catching up on sleep lost from the shootout. With the $2,000 No Limit Hold’Em Freezeout at noon, it meant another night of little sleep. You really do need a minimum of two day’s respite, or you just get caught up in bad sleeping cycles and being even more tired than you were before you had the day off.

Day 17….

The Amazon Room is starting to feel like home, and it’s been a good several days since I’ve left the confinements of the Rio Hotel. I’m worried I may become institutionalised, like those dudes in Shawshank Redemption. Maybe if I buy a Rita Hayworth poster I could gradually dig a hole with one of my sushi chopsticks and escape before the end of the week. Nope, hold on, just checked the Harrah’s rules for meda, and escaping is not allowed.

I’ve suddenly got the sense that the Series is starting to pick up pace now. The corridors are getting busier, the queue for the toilets is longer and they’re even opening up other cardrooms to cater for the demand. It’s amazing how spread out the poker at the Rio can be – you can be playing in the casino cardroom, the linking corridor to the convention centre, the Amazon Room, the Brasilia Room, the event has just expanded to such epic proportions, it’s not just about how many players turn up for the main event any more. One announcement amused me greatly: “For those of you looking for the Omaha/Hold’Em event, it’s behind the pizza factory and the custard creams.” Binion turns in his grave.

I almost got myself into trouble with the updates by accidentally using the title “Another Threesome for Clonie” in describing a three-way pot. Knowing my reputation with puns and gentle mockery, my PokerNews boss would never have believed it was unintentional. I’m just glad I didn’t write “Clonie Comes Over The Top in Threesome” or “Clonie Takes Yet Another Hit.” “Jesus Crucified and Hung Out To Dry” is certainly off the cards too for a Ferguson exit, I don’t think I would have made it back to the room alive.

The $2,000 event was a change of pace for Dana and I who really need to practice the art of drawing straws. For once, we actually finished the day at a relatively early hour, the end of day whistle blowing at 1.30am. When I was a schoolkid, I dreamt of the day that I’d call 1.30am early.


Day 14…

Well, it was past dawn actually, as today’s event finished at the face-sagging hour of 7am. Somehow, an event that I was initially relieved to be covering after the torment of watching seven-card stud for three days, had suddenly become more painful than waxing my ball sack.

The first sign of danger was when one table ran right through the scheduled dinner break, but even then I hoped it was an exception. At 6am, after 18 hours of play, there were still a few tables left and Dana and I were running on nothing but coffee and hope, the latter slowly dispersing as players refused to fall.

This event has a terrible payout structure. The poor sod departing at 7am after finishing second in his round two heat wins the same paltry sum as the guy who came last in round two 10 hours earlier. Even if you do make the final table, you are only guaranteed a profit of $5k, tenth getting $7k and first a ridiculously top heavy $333k. This means you can play for hours, win two tables, yet get unlucky on the final table and go home with peanuts.

The final player to win his table barely possessed enough energy to raise a smile when he won. He wore a shirt that read “Some people work for money. I play poker.” I think he may be second-guessing that slogan now, because he’s just worked his ass off.

Annoyingly, the scheduled final table time of 2pm remains (apparently the ten hour rule only applies to TV tables), meaning that we are facing four or five, at best, hours sleep, before returning for another day. Boy, this job can be gruelling at times.

Blogging Wars

You have to watch what you say down in the Amazon Room, because there is always someone listening in ready to quote you for their blog. Pauly, of Tao of Poker fame, is always armed with notepad and pen and whenever we have a conversation he pulls out his weapon of choice and jots down a few vital notes, much in the way Bruce Forsyth used to do at the start of the Generation Game.

I’m equally guilty, a number of times Benjo has caught me writing down his comments as he is actually in the process of saying them. I think it’s made him think twice before opening his mouth.

Nevertheless, there are some cracking WSOP blogs on offer, many of which have added me to their list of links.

In return, here are some of the blogs I urge to check out:

Tao of Poker


Pot Committed

Wicked Chops

Hard-Boiled Poker

Gene Bromberg

Milkybarkid's Poker Blog

And if you're French and somehow not heard of Benjo...

Las Vegas, off the record: WSOP Blog

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Day 13…

Today was our first day off after six consecutive days of updating and although we didn’t rise until 4pm, we were determined to leave the confines of the Rio Casino.

My suggestion was The Stratosphere, as Dana had never been before. The view there is fantastic, and reminded me of my experience at the top of the Sears Tower in Chicago.

Dana didn’t want to go on any rides, she was too scared, but I bought her a ticket for the Big Shot anyhow. I was a bit hesitant myself, but like a good challenge, even if it is one that could potentially end my life.

I have real trouble with vertigo, and even the lift was a nerve-wracking experience as it rattled towards the top of the hotel in just a few seconds. The Big Shot probably wasn’t the best choice for someone scared of heights, but I really didn’t want to leave The Stratosphere knowing that I was too scared to go on any of the rides. After all, I have a reputation as a macho man to uphold.

Although I have a real trouble with motion sickness thus limiting me to a ride a day before vomiting, I’m actually relatively comfortable on rollercoasters. However, this wasn’t your average rollercoaster, but one of those sadistic vertical rides that shoot you up into the sky at break neck speed.

Perched on the edge in our seats and awaiting lift-off, I nearly gave birth to kittens when the harness support jerked upwards. Fortunately, a member of staff trundled around the corner and pulled it back down, but I must admit, it didn’t put me at ease. I’m not sure how confident I can be on a ride owned by someone as insane as Bob Stupak. I could almost picture him lurking at the side, waving manically as he pulls down on the lever.

The worst part of this ride was the anticipation while we awaited it to start. You know it’s about to explode you up into the air at any second, but you’re not sure when. It just kinda bobs up and down a little bit whilst you wait, your face scrunched up and your hands turning red as they cling onto the handlebars.

When it finally did launch, we were thrust into the air and I recall my ass actually leaving my seat. The view was incredible, but I’m not sure I could fully enjoy it whilst simultaneously soiling my pants. What’s worse is that I’ve run out of clean boxers, so I can’t afford to lose a pair during a day, and I certainly don’t want to be forced to turn them inside out and brush off the stains.

Of course, I survived to tell you the tale, but I’m not sure it’s a journey I would want to repeat. Dana is still laughing hysterically from the experience, and her arms remain stiff as if holding onto the handlebars still.

Taking on All Comers

It would appear as though Vegas has truly become multi-cultural, especially when it comes to taxi drivers. Taxi drivers over here come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and, unlike in the UK, they can actually verbalise more than just the odd grunt.

For some unknown reason, Vegas is a magnet to Ethiopia, and a seemingly large contingent of taxi drivers are Ethiopian. Our driver to The Stratosphere was called Habetu, I said I’d give him a shout in my blog.

Weird Freak Strikes Back

You have to love Gobboboy (Jimmy Fricke). After spotting Howard Lederer signing autographs out in the hallway, he just couldn’t resist joining the queue and awaiting his rendezvous with the Full Tilt star.

For those who don’t know, Lederer accidentally copied Gobboboy in on an email to a colleague after Fricke had enquired about potential sponsorship at the upcoming Aussie Millions. Sadly, Lederer’s response was none too complimentary, even calling Gobboboy a “weird freak” or something similar.

Anyhow, Gobboboy did indeed meet his idol, and duly asked his friend to take a photo. Benjo also got a snap (see my stolen copy). The picture is terrific and I love the two expressions – Lederer is just so embarrassed and his smile so forced that you can almost see it written on his face exactly what he’s thinking… “Damn that ‘reply to all’ button!”

Weighting it Out

I spotted Annie Duke in the Amazon Room today and couldn’t get over how skinny she was. Apparently, losing weight is a common theme in poker, and often the result of a prop bet. ElkY shed the pounds at the tail end of last year, as has Mike Matusow at this year’s WSOP, both making a tidy sum in the process. Even David Benyamine has left the comfort of his swivel chair to, well… walk and stuff.

Dutch Boyd is still big.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008



Well, I guess I was wrong, because today was a marathon 15 hours session with the final table bubble, Brandon Cantu in the end, bursting at 5.45am. On numerous occasions I lost the will to live, and, thanks to my Book of Bunny Suicides, was considering the various methods of self-termination available to me. In the end, I decided that knocking on Johnny Chan’s hotel room door and greeting his woken up face with “Johnny Fucking Chan” was my best route, but I backed out at the last moment.

I felt sympathy for our field reporters, because I know how tough it is to be on your feet so long watching hands play out. We let one of them go a hand before the end, a friendly game of papers scissors stone being the only solution. The shout of dismay when one of them lost echoed across the empty room and all the remaining players looked up.

I had to laugh - when one of them came trundling over one hand I said, “I can tell no one’s been knocked out.” “How?” he replied. “Well, when it’s an exit you run over like Carl Lewis.” “Who’s Carl Lewis he replied?” Sigh, surely I can’t be getting old at 26?...

I am Viggo!!!

For those who follow our blonde updates, you may be aware that we have a tendency to liken Thomas Fougeron to Viggo out of Ghostbusters (you really do never see them in the same room), and then a few months later we added Jani Sointula to that exclusive list. Well, they say three’s a crowd, but not so in my book, as here comes Viggo number three, one Greg Pappas (pictured) who made the final of the Stud/Omaha Hi-Lo event. Congratulatons, welcome to the club.

WSOP Creditation

Good too see PokerListings get a few more press badges. Sadly, they drew from a hat and Floppy was one of the unlucky ones, meaning he has to sneak in out and “look like I should be there”, as the Flopster said himself.

Meanwhile, Benjo has become frustrated with the overall allocation of media badges. He was initially refused accreditation, came over anyway and asked a contact at Everest to swing it for him. He finally got his paws on one in the end, but it’s a shame that someone who puts so much into not only his job, but the industry as a whole has to fight for access when others, many of whom either haven’t updated their blog/site in months or are just ‘friends of friends’, get access at the drop of a hat. It’s a topsy-turvy world.

Day 12…

Crusty Pants

Oh dear, I’ve reached that stage already. I’ve run out of underwear and been forced to wash them in the shower. Unfortunately, I’m not your survival type, and have grown up in a world of luxuries, so wasn’t surprised to wake up to crusty pants. They’d shrunk too and it felt like I was wearing speedos. Ah well., guess I’ll just breathe in. I do have two emergency ones, but I don’t use them, even in emergencies, mainly because they have holes in precarious places.

Thank you

Before I continue, I’d just like to offer my thanks to the finalists in today’s $2,500 Omaha/Stud Hi-Lo event. After going to bed so late the day prior (we even managed to get breakfast at 6.30am), I was grouchy as hell today and dreading another long day of trying to work out stud hands. Thankfully, that didn’t happened, and we wrapped up at around 9pm with Farzad Rouhani taking bracelet gold.

Again, we were resigned to the outer tables (I’m wondering if this is a PokerNews strategy – “keep those darn Brits away from the TV cameras”), but it was a blessing in disguise, as I don’t think we could have pulled off hand for hand coverage.

Today was, by far, the most stressful update I’ve ever done. We were fatigued, unfed and facing another long day of being asked “what tournament is this”, “who’s chip leader” and “how do I reach the TV table?”

Also, I honestly can’t emphasise enough how difficult it is to blog seven-card stud hands. The Omaha is a relief at times, but because the hands are shorter, it’s mainly stud. If it’s a multiway pot forget about it, there’s just not enough time to write down the hands. Even if it’s heads-up, when it gets to the showdown, players have an annoying tendency to move their hands around and separate them into the high and low. At this point, you’ve lost track of which are the holes cards and before you’ve had time to work it out, the hands are being mucked. Even when you think you’ve got it down, you get back to your seat, write up the hand and then realise you’ve got two cards down twice. Argh! Post the fucker and you’re in big trouble, because boy do people like to highlight your errors. Within seconds you’ll get some smart arse saying “Are there two king of clubs in the pack”. Twats.

On this particular day, there was more action than a Die Hard flick, and as I was writing down a big hand, whilst simultaneously trying to confirm that I had given the low to the right person, not duplicated cards, etc, Dana would run over saying “I have a double through!” Then before I’d finish my post, there would be another all in. It was such hard work trying to keep up. Give me two cards and Hold’Em any day.

Poor Read on The Reader

Finally, I was watching the final three battle it out when a middle-aged woman shouted “Snoops!” from the rail with her arms out-stretched. Without meaning to sound egotistical, this happens quite a lot, and a surprising amount of the times it’s from people I have never met and have no chance of identifying. On this occasion, I was about to say “errrr, how’ve you been?” and hope they reveal their identity somehow when I suddenly noticed Michael Martin standing beside her. Thank the Lord, this was the giveaway.

This lady was indeed Michael’s mother, ‘The Reader’ on blonde and an avid follower of her son’s poker antics. We have spoken many a time, although only in written form and via the blonde poker updates, but it’s almost like I already knew her. It’s bizarre when you meet these people, it’s as if you never really believed they existed in human form. In the end, she was just as I imagined her.

Tomorrow I finally have a day off which I'll probably fill with lots of sleeping, a little more sleeping, then a small topping of sleeping before finishing with an end of day sleep. Joy!

Saturday, June 07, 2008


Day 9…

Fuck me he’s back. Before I’ve even starting updating the pot limit final, this dude who’d been complaining on the last update comes into the shoutbox and says “Oh no, not Dana and Snoopy again,” adding, “their coverage is shit” and even calling me “mentally retarded” at one point without me even pushing his buttons.

His alias is xdragon, and he’s miserable as sin. His comments today made me feel a lot better actually, because I realised that he wasn’t worth worrying about. Thanks again to everyone that has complimented our updates thus far, it makes us feel a lot better because we’re working our asses off out here.

Singer in the Reign

David Singer won the $1,500 event. Incredibly, he’d cashed in two events in the same day earlier in the week, predominantly because the pot limit had whittled down to the money so quickly.

I’m not his biggest fan, mainly because of his angle-shooting with last year’s phone incident, but he did play well, showing the patience of a saint to turn a short stack into a heads up spot. His opponent Jacobo Fernandez was a tough nut to crack, and it took a coin-flip to do so.

It’s good for us that the final was on the outer tables, because it meant we didn’t have to cover every hand, but it was a shame for the players who missed out on the TV spotlight. It’s weird when the final table isn’t on centre stage, it just doesn’t feel important, and no one seems to take any notice, but I guess that’s the power of the cameras. It also means that the finalist won’t get sponsored in any form, likes James Akenhead did in the No Limit.

What this final table did prove, however, is that the WSOP is nowhere near as crapshooty as people like to claim. Yes, it’s a bit restricted at the start and you can’t afford to lose too many early hands, but as you get deeper, it’s a pretty generous structure. If I have to choose, then I’d always have it so there was more play near the end as that is where the big jumps in money are.

Heads-up was circa four hours, and the players did take the dinner break when we lost third place (much to our chagrin), but we still finished at a decent hour. Shame I have to start the Stud/Omaha Hi-Lo event tomorrow. Eek!

Day 10…

Return of the Dragon

Oh fuck me. Apparently we received a couple of complaints today about the tone of our updates. We were asked to turn down the volume, cut out the puns and not be so cheeky. Sigh, why do I get a feeling our friend xdragon had something to do with it?

Oh Crap!

There was a funny story with one of our field reporters. Apparently he’d mistaken indigestion tablets for candy and had been popping them like there was no tomorrow. He can’t crap now.

Erik Lindgren wins event Event 4

Lingren has finally won a bracelet after a couple of near misses. I was hoping he was going to come in second again because I think he’s a bit of smug git. Also, when Matt from PokerListings asked him if it was a spade on the river when reporting a hand one event, Lindgren wouldn’t tell him. He’d won the pot, but shrugged his shoulders and sniggered as if Matt was crap on his shoe. I detest this kind of elitist attitude. Then again, not too many wanted Bonomo to win either.

All Quiet on the Western Front

They’re down to the last nine in the 10k mixed game, only 192 runners though, but that’s to be expected. Tough field, unpopular games, big buy-in – was never going to attract thousands. Anyhow, at 5am, whilst I was finishing off my blonde work (left at 6), they were still playing last two tables and waiting for the bubble to burst.

The atmosphere was really strange. Apart from the odd cash game, the place was pretty empty. You get so used to seeing the likes of Sammy Farha and Eli Elezra being hounded by ‘Heat Magazine’ readers and trailer park housewives that it’s strange to see them in isolation, away from the crowd. They just feel like your Average Joe and you get to see them in a more natural way – “scratching their balls or doing coke on the table” as Benjo says.

It was so late that even the cleaners had the vacuums out, making a loud whirring noise that was driving Sammy round the bend. Have to admit, it was a relief when they turned it off, but it makes you laugh when there are janitors sweeping up behind you and tumbleweed blowing by when there’s so many famous stars playing for so much money – reminded me of the marathon HORSE final from 2006.

As I left, I worried that I’d be updating my event till 5am too. Surely I was just being paranoid though, this was just an exception, wasn’t it?...

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Days 7 & 8...

Yesterday was gruelling, so much in fact that I just didn’t have the energy to pen my blog, and decided that a good eight hours sleep was too important to miss. The update itself was 13 and a half hours in total, but we checked in early to meet up with the field reporters, and checked out late after completing my blonde work. This led to a 17 hour day, and one which suddenly formed the realisation that this could be a very long week indeed.

When you’ve covered an event throughout the day, you just want to fall onto your bed the moment the final whistle blows, but I’m juggling two jobs this month and remain obligated to fulfilling my daily chores with blonde, even if my brain is only working at a third of the pace. It’s surprising how quickly the tasks build up, however small. No major work, just niggly issues like having to publish a sponsor’s news item, upload the day’s results, make a change to a cardroom schedule, edit the WSOP page, etc, etc. Before I know it, it’s 4am and my hope of watching a Sopranos episode before bed has turned to dust.

My opening day’s work with PokerNews was almost hitchless, apart from a mad spurt at the end where we missed a few exits. If the field reporters aren’t up to scratch, then there’s nothing Dana and I can do, as we simply translate the information they supply us onto the PokerNews blog – we barely even move from our seat. If they get it wrong, we get it wrong, which consequently looks bad on us rather than them. On the whole though, they were pretty good, two in particular as keen as mustard and more than worthy of their spot.

This morning saw the introduction of the now legendary Raab ID system, where players have a unique ID number and a card that they carry around with them so that they can be identified at all times. This was only introduced a week prior to the event, and Harrah’s have a reputation of resisting change, but the early signs are that it is working well. It helps that the players are told about the system prior to kick off, although I doubt Jonathan Raab will be happy when they announced it as “brand new” and “revolutionary”. Ah well, I guess that Tetris guy didn’t get any credit either.

I did notice that a few players felt they were ‘above’ the ID system. Tom McEvoy’s ID was found in the eliminations box at one point, so it was assumed that he’d been eliminated. I duly reported his exit on the blog, but later spotted him again in the tournament, and quickly learned that he’d dumped it. Great, I look like an idiot because Thomas can’t be arsed to keep his card with him.

Similarly, Dave Singer refused to take his card with him when he moved table one time, simply saying, “I don’t need it, you know who I am.” In fact, I’m not sure I’m Singer’s biggest fan, especially since the phone incident from last year when he was clearly angle-shooting. This year, he was the only one who wouldn’t play to the final with ten players remaining and the dinner break just moments away. After dinner they returned to play for around ten minutes - didn’t seem worth it to me, plus it meant I missed the Rio buffet and had to pay over the odds at the deli. In fact, I guess I could say that Dave Singer stole food from my mouth.

I try my best to add a little humour and colour to the blog, but I can’t deny to being a little disappointed when someone complained about me in the PokerNews’ shoutbox, suggesting that I was “trying to hard” and demanding that I “just report the action.” There were complimentary comments too, but this did upset me because the last thing I want to do is just report hands without adding any flavour to the reports. I’m not the most skilled of writers around, so I depend on these added quips to get by, but I guess you can’t please everyone all the time. Some people like bad puns, MC Hammer references and subtle mockery, others don’t.

One thing that did amuse me was when I made a post complaining about the automatic flushes here in Vegas, that I genuinely still can’t fathom. It was very tongue in cheek in truth, but one viewer sent me a private message supplying me with a walkthrough guide to using the Vegas toilets. She even linked me to a picture of the device explaining where the sensor was located. Muchos thankos to that kind person, I shall be giving the toilets a full investigation next time I feel a rumble in the jungle and will let you know how I get on.

All the big names seem to be elsewhere, many migrating from my tournament after elimination, and I’d certainly rather be watching James Akenhead battling Chris Ferguson and co at the $1,500 NL final table. Naturally, James has his crew with him, a suitless Reservoir Dogs of sorts, with Karl, Sunny, Chaz, Praz and newcomer Tony Phillips all in tow. The latter of those had to be escorted out of the room the other day before he was banned, after one of James’ opponents called for a “spade” even though he wasn’t in the hand. That flush did indeed come and James went mad, asking Ngo why the fuck he was calling out cards.

Whilst James steamed off, Tony confronted Ngo, “jostled” according to the reports, to give him what for, but it soon fizzled out. Sunny quickly led Tony outside before it kicked off, and later advised him to get rid of his red top so he couldn’t be identified (his ginger hair is probably a giveaway too), but when Tony removed his top, he revealed another red top underneath. “Oh great,” thought Sunny. If I'd been in range, I would have brought out the guns myself, but I arrived on the scene too late to release the beasts. Ah well, their time will come.

Meanwhile, James returned to an inaccurate stack, the dealer trying to fob him off with 8k when it should have been around 50k. The mistake was rectified, and the rest is history. Let’s just hope James can keep his cool and snap up one of those shiny gold bracelets before the end of the day. This might be our best chance to bring back some gold. I’m not sure what’s more likely though, James winning a bracelet or Tony making it to the end of the month without being barred.

Must dash, but before I go, I’ll leave you with some puntastic headlines that Dana and I have been having fun with at PokerNews’ expense. Which do you reckon is the best (or is it worst)? Place your votes now…

Levi-Tation (David Levi)
A Close Schaef (Brandon Schaefer)
Dutch Courage (Dutch Boyd)
Attack of the Clonie (Clonie Gowen)
Lisandro Suffering From Agita (Jeff ‘Tony Soprano’ Lisandro)
Tim Fails to Ad-Vance (Tim Vance)
Blair Rich Project (Blair Rodman)
Amir All Over the Place (Amir Vahedi)
Flock of Spegals (Mike Spegal - reigning champ)
Green Green Grass of Going Home (Martin Green)

Monday, June 02, 2008


Day 6...

Today was highly uneventful, mainly because of one too many White Russians last night (the drink, that is, rather than the local whorehouse), so I won't waste your time with any fluff. I did intend to pop into the Voodoo Lounge just to show Dana the view, but at 20 bucks entry refused on principle.

Tomorrow will be my first day of work in which I shall be covering the $1,500 Pot Limit Hold'Em Freezeout with Dana. Please feel free to bump up my views by following the updates on

Sunday, June 01, 2008


Day 5...

I woke up this morning with an uncontrollable urge to ambush the Rio buffet, so, along with Dana and Rod, I indulged in a spot of face filling with three overflowing plates of nosh, not to mention two tubs of ice cream on top. Rod foolishly opted for the lobster legs, only to discover that he didn't possess the culinary skills to actually eat the god damn things, but persisted nonetheless before inevitably cracking open the shell and squirting lobster juice in his face. Dana, meanwhile, was munching away quietly, pensively thinking, "Could I sneak a free dinner if I stayed here for the rest of the day?"

On the way back to the room I noticed a couple of odd attractions. Firstly, there was a male dancer performing what looked to be some kind of epileptic fit or camp mating call on a small stage in the centre of the casino. What was more bizarre was that his only audience were big butch men, all of whom were gawking up at him and wondering what the hell he was doing. Further along I ran into what I believe was some kind of slots tournament, if it is, somehow, possible to hold such a competition. I have no idea how it works or how one would indeed triumph, but the strategy seemed to involve bashing the buttons incessantly as if playing the latest edition of Track and Field, and boy were these pensioners moving fast, spitting in the face of RSI and pushing arthritis to the very max. Surely random drug testing should be introduced?

Speaking of slots, there are a number of bizarrely themed slot machines scattered around Vegas with brands such as ebay, Indiana Jones and, naturally, Elvis all getting in on the act. I even spotted a Sopranos one today in the Rio. How that would work, I'm not sure. Do they have the head of Paulie Walnuts instead of cherries? Can I visit Doctor Melfi if I get agita? Do you get whacked (sorry, clipped, I'm so early nineties sometimes) if you win too much? The mind boggles, but I may have to give it a crack at some point, especially with my recent introduction, and subsequent addiction to the DVD boxset which has been keeping me entertained of a night.

Personally, I've been focusing my attention on the video poker and blackjack, predominantly because I can stick in five bucks (although that soon turns into a hundred) and guzzle down the free drinks. I've always found video poker rather frustrating, so nearly dropped my White Russian when I hit four deuces on deuces wild for 200-1 - shame I was only playing 25 cents a pop, but it felt good nonetheless, and it took me a good hour before I was happy enough to rid the screen of my moment of triumph and play another hand.

I wasn't the only one winning though, as Richard Brodie, who, for those of you who don't know, was the creator of Microsoft Word and now one of many celebrity poker enthusiasts, hit so many big hands on video poker that he was banned by the Rio Casino for er... winning too much. However, he later appealed, and was allowed to play again, the Rio finally conceding that it was possible for people to actually win.

Whilst playing video poker and slowly getting drunk, Dana and I watched Ultimate Fighting on the TV and bet on the results of each match like any good gambler should. Whilst this minor distraction resulted in my pressing the 'max bet' button (which, non-coincidentally I believe, acts as the same button as the 'stand' option), I managed to win a whopping one dollar! Still, the final bout was highly entertaining as a Mr T Doppleganger, complete with gold teeth, medallion and a beard that a small family of robins could nest in took on this tall lanky English chap that looked like he'd been thrown out of the Hills Have Eyes auditions for looking a little too odd. The Mr T dude was actually called Kimbo Slice (which sounds like a piece of Christmas pudding), and somehow boasted the impressive combo of bald head and ponytail. Only two other men in history have managed this feat: Paul Heyman and Catman - it's an elite club.

Of course, it hasn't been all gay dancers, White Russians and Mr T lookalikes, as I did manage a quick afternoon ramble into the cardroom. The Series is really starting to pick up pace now with three events running simultaneously. Whilst John Kabbaj was busy bubbling the final table of the $10k Hold'Em (in testicle-crunching circumstances, might I add), James Akenhead was running well in the record-breaking $1,500 No Limit Hold'Em event, finishing the day in 10th position. Sadly, fellow Hit Squadders Sunny, Chaz and Praz bit the dust early doors, but Karl hits the felt today, so best of luck to him.

Whist watching James from the rail, I overheard my first touristy comment of the year (of which there shall be many), when one guy asked, "Is this the Main Event?" More to come I'm sure when I finally start work tomorrow's $1,500 Pot Limit Hold'Em...