Postcards from Vegas 2011
Sunday, 26 June 2011
I’ve been in Las Vegas for five days now, but don’t have any exciting news. I’ve played two tournaments and didn’t win either of them (exiting the second one in an impressively efficient ten minutes). But that’s okay. You can’t expect to win these tournaments, or even cash in them. I’ve got friends who have been out here for three weeks already, playing tournaments every day, and not making a single cash - in some cases, not even making a day two. It’s hard. The fields are huge. The betting can be random. If you do cash (or, obviously win) then the rewards are proportionately large - so it’s just a shot, really. Just a shot.
Anyway, here are my holiday snaps. They represent occasions when (a) I’ve remembered to take my camera out with me, (b) I’ve remembered that I’ve got my camera with me, and (c) something’s struck me as interesting. Note: it may not strike you as interesting.
I laughed at the welcoming face of Frank Kassela, last year’s “Player Of The Year”, in the hallway of the Rio.
I was amused (though not surprised) by the vastness of the sandwiches in the Rio “poker kitchen”. I could gain eight stone eating that kind of thing for lunch every day. I asked the woman at the till if they had any smaller sandwiches. She said “No, but if you buy one of our regular sandwiches, you get this for free.”
Mmm, healthy. And so natural! Do you ever wish you were eating cardboard that tastes slightly of chemicals that taste slightly of cheese? I did, as I ate these less pleasant snacks.
On the dinner break of the $5000 6-handed event, I went with Neil, Ram and Barny to eat in the coffee shop of the Gold Coast over the road, where The Sweep and I stayed the first year the WSOP moved here. I loved that coffee shop. It was a real classic Vegas-style place, garish colours and Old School deli menu. Sadly, it turns out to have been transformed into a TGI Friday. I spent a while thinking about its slogan.
Now, you see, that doesn’t work in Vegas. “It’s always Friday” is presumably supposed to suggest a rather festive feel: work’s over for the week, so kick back, enjoy some ribs and a milkshake. But in Vegas, it’s always Saturday. Hookers, gambling and cocaine. A Friday feel seems a little humdrum in comparison. Perhaps the owners of the restaurant are trying to suggest that this place is an escape from the relentless party atmosphere of the rest of the town. “At TGI’s”, they may be encouraging the nervous visitor, “everything is a little tempered by the idea that we might once have been at work. We’re not licentious here. The vibe is calm, tired and a bit depressed. Rules apply.”
The possibility that they are NOT trying to say (like every other branch in its worldwide chain) “It’s party-party-party, where anything goes!” is borne out by reading the notices on the wall just next to this cheery slogan.
Ah, Fridays - the day you can’t smoke, solicit or have more than 458 people in a room.
Back at the Rio, my $5000 6-handed tournament ran into trouble when I re-raised a guy all in with KJ and he turned out to have aces. Aces! There were only five of us at the table! Where do they find these hands?
I went outside for a cigarette. Others who had been knocked out milled around, or sat and stared into space. I felt kinship with them. Poker has such a sitcom trajectory. Each new day, the players start with huge ambitions. Every day (except for maybe a handful of occasions in a lifetime, and even those not for everybody) the hopes are dashed. Each new day, they start again, ambitions re-polished and determination fresh.
Disappointment and dreams, that’s all it is. Disappointment and dreams.