A pyre of money in Las Vegas
Thursday, 3 July 2008
According to Sophocles, the accursed Oedipus (destined to kill his father and marry his mother) was advised by Creon to make offerings to the gods. Oedipus failed to do so; the city of Thebes was laid waste by plague, and the family was plunged into tragedy for generations.
I did not want to make the same mistake in the $1500 Horse.
Arriving in Vegas late into the World Series of Poker, able only to play four events, I was very excited to make day two of this tournament. Horse is a great test of poker range, and I’ve always loved the variants. The only down side to playing five different types of poker within a single tournament is that ten would be better.
On day two, 175 players were returning out of an initial 803. In order to avoid any kind of tragic disappointment as we approached the prize money, I realized that offerings would have to be made to the gods. Goats are hard to come by on the Strip, so I decided to throw money at the problem.
The Horse was due to begin again at 3pm. So I bought into the $1500 No Limit Holdem at midday. That would mean, once the Horse started, that I’d be in two tournaments at once – moving between the two would be very complicated and annoying, and fate would surely guarantee me a long afternoon of that?
Or I could not move between the two. If I stayed at the Horse table when it began, surely the gods would allow me to be stuck there long enough to get anted away in the Holdem, thus making a pure, classical sacrifice of $1500. But my plan was to go for the back-and-forth option - after three days of Vegas menus, I could use the exercise. Yesterday I ordered a tomato soup in the Terrace Pointe café and it came with a deep-fried cheese sandwich on the side. That was the garnish.
Unfortunately, I was knocked out of the Holdem with two hours left before the Horse even started. Now what? How else could I tempt the gods to trap me in the Horse tournament for hours? I hurried to the Mirage and bought four tickets to the Beatles show that evening. Luckily, they only had top price seats available, $170 each with a $130 premium on each ticket to cover free drinks in the bar beforehand. Given that I barely drink, two of my companions are similar lightweights and the third would be driving, this ‘open bar’ premium was an appropriately terrible waste of money. And it would be rendered 100% stupid if I was still in the Horse event and couldn’t go at all. Anyone who understands ancient religious tradition, and indeed sod’s law, will realize that the winner’s bracelet was now as good as on my wrist.
As the first Omaha high-low round was dealt, I looked down to find AA34 double suited. This proved the wisdom of the ancients.
‘Sophocles was a clever man,’ I thought. ‘Those gods are placated! They have given me this beautiful hand so that I can double up and start cruising towards the final, in the safe knowledge that $1200 has been burned at the Mirage show desk. Smoke from the ashes of those unused tickets is already wafting its way to Mount Olympus.’
Sure enough, I flopped the nut low and the nut flush draw. All the chips went in. And I really enjoyed the Beatles.