Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Old Shoe: 2010 WSOP Preview

I secretly love Las Vegas. I maintain a negative exterior because I graduated from a liberal college and live in the Republic of Boulder where it’s unfashionable to enjoy a place as inorganic as Vegas. But I do love it. I even love it in the summertime.

I love walking outside into 115 degree heat. I love walking around at night in sandals and shorts. I love staring at an endless sky of blue day after day. I don’t mind xeriscapes. I prefer the Vegas skyline to any other.

I didn’t always love Las Vegas. I still hate the traffic, the wastefulness, the con artists. But I’ve become familiar with the place. It’s my second home. I’m starting to figure it out. I know where things are. I know a lot of great restaurants. I know what music sounds best driving around town in the summer. I know what I like to do: eat, drink, work out, go to movies, eat, and drink. It didn't always fit, but the whole Vegas Summer Experience has slowly become familiar and comfortable.

Mostly, I love living in a completely extreme place devoted to gambling for six weeks every year. I love the purpose, the organization, the routine the WSOP brings. And the best time is right now, before you take bad beats, before the frustration, brimming with anticipation, looking forward. Endless possibilities.

This will be my sixth World Series of Poker.

I’ve had good WSOPs and bad ones. I’ve played with confidence and with trepidation. I’ve made a final table, I’ve bubbled final tables, I’ve squeaked into the money, I’ve built chip leads and blown them. I’ve worn the Golden Sombrero. I’ve gone into the WSOP on highs and lows. I’ve emerged from it on highs and lows (mostly lows). I have watched others disintegrate around me, and I have disintegrated myself. I’ve played dozens of games of credit card roulette. At the WSOP, I have made friends and I have lost friends. I have even fallen in love.

There are three big things I have never done at the WSOP:

1. I haven’t won a bracelet
2. I haven’t cashed in the main event
3. I haven’t found a bar that a) isn’t a club b) has good beer and c) isn’t cluttered with video poker machines

I have experienced the WSOP enough times to know that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. If you’re not playing your best in your 12th NLHE of the summer, you’re losing value. I know what I need to do to prepare myself each day to play. I also know that far more than anything else, my fate will be determined by luck. You can’t will yourself to results, not in this game. All you can do is play well and hope for the best. Predicting poker results is pointless.

But the WSOP isn’t just about poker results, it’s about attaching memories to those results. You see the same patterns every summer in Vegas, certain things that seem to be repeated every WSOP. The script stays the same; only the names change. It’s easier to speculate on these subjects than it is to predict results, to answer questions like:

What will be the hottest temperature reached during the WSOP?

The over/under on this one is 116 fahrenheit – and about ten degrees hotter in the Rio convention center parking lot.

What will “The Song” be?

Every summer there is a song the Vegas casinos adopt en masse, a song that seemingly gets played four times as often as any other. Recent examples of The Song: “Holiday” by Green Day in 2005 (though this was really a two-tiered attack with Kelly Clarkson’s “Behind These Hazel Eyes”; RHCP’s Dani California in 2006; and Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody” last year.

There are a lot of possibilities for “The Song” this summer. I like Lady Gaga’s “Alejandro” to make a run at the title this year.

How many times will I eat a meal at an Asian restaurant?

I love Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese, and Korean food; I am making it a goal to investigate restaurants I’ve never been to in Vegas; our house is a couple miles west of the Rio, not far from Chinatown; WSOP dinner breaks are 90 minutes; the Lotus of Siam is probably my favorite restaurant in the world and Ping Pang Pong is in the top ten; everyone loves Korean barbecue; pho is the best possible thing to eat during poker tournaments; sushi boats. I’m not going to let the roommates hold me back on this one anymore. The over/under here is 17.

Will the NBA Finals be watchable?

This one seems unlikely, as almost any game involving the Celtics, Lakers, or Magic is difficult to stomach. On the other hand, the Phoenix Suns could be the most likable NBA team of the last decade, so any Finals with them involved will be too compelling to miss.

Which roommate will I punch in the face?

I am actually expecting this to be a very low-key living experience, with five dudes (two married, one in a LTR) who seem to care about poker and nothing else right now. Chances are there won’t be much drama, much less any physical altercations, but PiMaster is a slight favorite here.

What will be the best summer movie?

With an intriguing concept, first-rate director, sterling cast, and staggering special effects, you can almost guarantee Inception will be a winner.

Which random longtime pro will win two bracelets out of nowhere?

Thomas Fuller seems like a good candidate for this one, I must say.


Anonymous SamENole said...

Awesome blog, especially the part about punching PiMaster in the face. j/k. Where do I rank on the list?

2:53 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

If I come out for a weekend, can I please be a top candidate for a punch to the face? I will try my best to make out with whatever girl you have a crush on. Good writeup..

8:08 AM  
Blogger Spencetron said...

Okay, how in the world is pho the best food during a poker tournament. I am an enourmous fan of pho, but after I eat it I always need to take a nap. I enter a phoma.

9:27 AM  
Blogger Bored in St. George said...

Nice prediction on the two bracelets!! And man I could eat pho every single day! Feel sorry for anyone that hasn't tried it. Make sure to squeeze in some lime and chili sauce! Good luck this year man. I've been a long time reader of the blog and just moved two hours from Vegas. If you make a final table I'll try to come down. Would be cool to meet you regardless. Take care

3:14 PM  
Blogger TheGraveWolf said...

Best run good of the year = no more Lost posts??

I'll probably comment again once I read the post. :)

3:51 PM  
Blogger jamalik said...

hope you'll be on twitter for your tourney runs... what else will i use to pass the days? the nationals are floating around .500 for the first time in a while, but it's not good enough to keep me adequately distracted at work.

6:39 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

I dig the post. And that you "secretly" like Vegas. :) I also went to a liberal arts college and have a pretty strong hippie bent but Vegas is honest about what it is...and I appreciate that.

11:48 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

One thing missing from this post: I'd like to see a list of events you are playing and a list events you hope to play...

9:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eat at Ichiza in chinatown. Open til 3am. Japanese tapas. Not fancy at all. The menu is so good you probably won't even order the sushi. For a pricier version of great japanese stuff go to raku, also in chinatown but a bit west.

3:11 PM  

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