Las Vegas, Tuesday/Wednesday
Tuesday, 23 June 2009
There’s a great sense of impatience in this town. Immediate gratification. No waiting. Speed, speed, speed. It takes hard work to resist being sucked into the pace, and I fail every time. A couple of days ago, I went to play a cash game in the Wynn card room and there was a ten-minute wait. Back home, I pride myself on a rich interior life and a confident ability to sit quietly with my own thoughts for hours at a time. Here, I couldn’t bear the wait. I spent the ten minutes simultaneously drinking tea, eating nachos, smoking cigarettes, sending text messages and thumbing $200 into the Jade Monkey slots. (What a terrible machine. I barely saw one jade monkey come down the reels, never mind three at once. The elusive little green shits.)
Yesterday, in Caesar’s Forum, I saw (and bought) what I think must be the most impatient product ever devised: a combined “lip-plumping gloss and appetite suppressant”. There’s madness for you. Nothing but short cuts. It’s weird enough to use an appetite suppressant rather than (God forbid) self-discipline, but actually combining it with a lip gloss - a magic lip gloss that’s supposed to work like an immediate collagen implant - what absolute multi-tasking mayhem. The slogan on the packet is “HUGE LIPS, SKINNY HIPS”. Of course, that actually sounds hideous. I don’t want to look like a matchstick with a giant mouth. I only bought it because I liked the colour of the lip gloss. Luckily, as any scientist might anticipate, it doesn’t, in fact, do anything. Within ten minutes of slicking it on, I was so hungry that I ate a cinnamon doughnut the size of a sofa cushion in about two bites.
I am not playing enough tournaments, because I’ve judged that I can’t pace them properly out here. The blackjack screws with my poker patience. Cash poker is fine - you can play every hand if you want, and take breaks whenever you like - but tournaments require a solid discipline that slips away from me in Vegas. I have played two $2000 No Limit Holdems, and decided to skip the $1500 event on Saturday because it would be a waste of money. Sitting there in a field of 2000 people, knowing it would be more than a day before we got anywhere near the money, I’d be bound to burn chips.
Part of the reason is that I’ve been working too hard lately. My strategy for future WSOPs will certainly be to take a holiday first. I haven’t really been on holiday for three years. In the last few weeks in London, I was working 18-hour days. The chance to get some sunshine, eat some nice meals, see some friends, have some sleep, play some cash poker without looking at my watch, is such a strong attraction that I can’t sit still for the requisite 11 hour days in the soulless Rio tournament room. Next year, I think I’ll do a fortnight in Greece first, and turn up so bored of sunshine and holiday that I’ll be ready to commit to the tournaments.
But in a way, compared to some out here, it makes me feel healthy, like I’ve got the balance right. I’m not on a relentless grind of tournament after tournament. I’m actually enjoying being here, playing cash games, racking up gentle daily profits rather than throwing myself into the masochism of incessant knockout competitions. I have not played a tournament for four days, and tomorrow I will finally go back into the Rio for the $10,000 Pot Limit Holdem. I’m looking forward to that. It’s a big event, with a good structure, played Pot Limit: after my few days off, I feel ready to be patient and quiet and settled, not anxious to double up or get away. Because I’ve been off the tournament roundabout, away from the nightmare of bad beats and sudden shock exits, I’m not full of fear about getting knocked out. And if I do get knocked out, I’ll be philosophical. If my WSOP sheet this year reads 3 tournaments 0 cashes, I’ll be a lot happier than those on 35 tournaments 0 cashes.
I haven’t taken many new pictures in the last couple of days. But, after thumbing my $200 into the Jade Monkey, I did record the evidence that - whatever my kindly friends out here might warn about my reckless gambling away from the poker table - I actually AM capable of standing up with money.