"Together, more or less in line, just keep truckin' on . . ."
-The Grateful Dead
I talked with Anne late last night, just before I planned to leave the Rio and go back to my hotel.
"The kids really miss you," she said.
"I really miss them, too," I said.
"Ryan told me that all he wants for his birthday is to come out and see you."
That was all it took. Tears filled my eyes and fell in huge drops down to the marble floor beneath my aching feet as my heart broke.
We know that they can't come out, because the kids are still in summer school, so I composed myself and talked with both of them on the phone for a few minutes. After I hung up, I saw my friend and fellow PokerStars blogger Otis walking out of the media room. I really didn't want to be alone just then, so I invited myself along to follow him outside, where we engaged in a nightly ritual that I call "talking each other off the ledge." It's a good talk, and all the writers have it at least twice a week.
After we talked, we headed back into the Amazon room together, and I found the best story I wrote all day:
Meeting bati99, while Fossilman and Pokertrip Build their Stacks
We traded the ninety-four degrees of hot pavement in front of the poker kitchen for the quiet din of the tournament room, and noticed that they are still running satellites for Main Event entries. The cash games, while on fewer tables, are still taking up at least a quarter of the room though many tables are empty. (I note this because I thought that the entire room had been transitioned over to Main Event tournament play. Oops.)
On our way down the rail, as we got dangerously close to table 20 and my post traumatic stress disorder that was certain to ensue, we hung a quick right at table 40, where a couple of PokerStars players were seated.
One of the players looked up at us, and said, "Hey! Are you guys with the PokerStars blog?"
"Yes, sir, we are," Otis said.
"When are you going to come by and put us on it?" He said.
I don't know about Otis, but even though I know lots of people are reading our work, all the six digit stats in the world pale in comparison to the one guy who sees us walking past his table, and interrupts his play because what we do matters to him.
[. . .]
A few more tables into the room, we found ourselves next to Greg. He appeared to have more chips than his current count online, but he was in a hand -- cool fossilman glasses on and everything -- when we walked up, so we left him alone and continued to prowl the floor.
A few steps later, I saw that Greg's wife, Cheryl, was standing by the rail with her sister, so I zagged when Otis zigged, and walked over to talk with them.
"It looks like Greg has about 7500 or so," I said.
"He just texted me a few minutes ago," Cheryl said, "and he's up just over ten thousand."
"Oh? That's great!" I said. "I'm supposed to be covering him today, but I don't want to get too close while he's playing."
"Oh, you should just go over and talk with him. He likes you and it wouldn't bother him at all."
I didn't tell her that I'm convinced that if I walk too close to Greg, one of his opponents will pull an Aaron Kanter on him because I happened to be there. This is an entirely rational thought.
[. . .]
The security goons began sweeping out the room, and I walked with Cheryl, her sister and her sister's husband, until we got to the intersection of Main Street and Wil Wheaton Kicks Ass Drive. They went down WWKAD, and continued down Main toward the hallway and media room, glancing at tables my whole way.
When I got to table 153, I saw Jon "pokertrip" Friedberg in seat 2, facing the rail.
His hands obscured his chipstack, but I noticed that he was wearing his bracelet, which made me very happy.
I watched a couple of hands, holding security at bay with my press badge, and Jon looked up and saw me. He smiled and waved, and I waved back. I looked at his chips and made the international face for "how many chips do you have? I don't want to walk over the rail and bother you while you're playing, and the stupid media rules prohibit me from explicitly asking you. Besides, you probably know and can just hold up a few fingers for me and make everyone happy while keeping us on the right side of the rules." This motion was accomplished by cocking my head to the right, and arching my left eyebrow. Yes, we actors can convey a lot in the most subtle of motions.
He held up his two index fingers, indicating eleven thousand. His huge smile indicated that he was very happy to have that stack in front of him.
Walking through the room and finding and writing those stories, also gave me my mojo back:
For the last 48 hours, I've felt like a complete failure, and I really haven't liked it. After walking the floor with Otis, seeing Greg, talking with Cheryl and checking up on Jon, I feel like a writer again. I don't believe it's a coincidence that I don't feel like throwing up for the first time since Friday, either.
The next time I think about picking up a deck of cards and some chips, I think I'll reach for my notebook and pen, instead.
This morning, my friend John Vorhaus called me and invited me to play in a charity poker tournament that would air on Live at the Bike. Against my better judgment I agreed, and found myself in a one-table SNG with Gavin Smith, Joe Sebok, Liz Lieu, a pornstar (NSFW), jv, and a few online sharks. Yes, I was the dead money, and yes I busted first when I lost a race with AQ to The Gavin's 77. Yes, I was outlasted by a pornstar. No, it's not the first time.
Shortly after I got set up in the media room, Michael Craig called me, because he was with Richard Brodie and Rafe Furst, both of whom wanted to say hello. Richard and I have been trying to meet in person for a long time, and Rafe and I know each other from the BARGE list, but have never actually met in real life. I talked with them for a few minutes, then I got to listen in as Rafe taught Mike basic roshambo strategy for a book that Mike is writing.
After about twenty minutes, Andy Bloch came over, and they all headed upstairs to Richard's suite to work on a tournament PLO chapter for the book. I really wanted to go along, just to hang out and learn about poker (also, I really like Andy and Rafe; I suspect that Richard and I would get along very well, too, if given the chance) but I felt a responsibility to get back to the media room and work on some stories. The big one today is Joe Hachem: his battle to defend his bracelet begins today, and of course he's at the featured table.
Las Vegas is equal parts Nirvana and Tenth Circle of Hell, and every day I visit both places several times. Right now? I'm on my way to the good place; at this very moment, Pauly, CJ, Otis and I are recreating Edgar Winters' Frankenstein by drumming on the table, humming and grunting, and making wah wah noises. I love the esprit du corps we have on Team Blog; it reminds me of the camaraderie we had at ACME during the Love Machine show, and that's a feeling that leads to great work. I'm really proud and happy to be part of this team. Like I said yesterday, we're poker's Voltron.