I did everything I could to get into bed early last night, even remaining disciplined enough to walk away from what was probably the best final table in the history of the WSOP -- minutes before Doyle Brunson was eliminated, no less -- in time to be in bed by my self-imposed bedtime of midnight.
Yeah. That was a great idea, but no matter how hard I tried, I still couldn't fall asleep before three in the morning, and I overslept again today. When I overslept yesterday, I skipped breakfast and headed straight to the Rio, and I really paid for that around the middle of the day, so I'm actually eating breakfast right now, listening to Soul Coughing (who are telling me that it's 5am and I'm listening to Los Angeles,) and working on the stories I couldn't write yesterday, because there was so much great stuff happening right in front of me, I never got the stories started. (Heh. I'm a one-man version of Network: I kept preempting my planned stories to go with the breaking stuff, and I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore.)
Okay, I'm a little loopy this morning, but maybe it's just the coffee talking, Marge. Did you know they have these pretzels here that you can -- what? Five dollars?! MMrrggtahzaaaaxxhaggh . .
Err, I don't know what just happened, but let's see if I can get this back on track, mmmkay?
I'm having a fantastic time being here and writing about the experience. When I'm really writing well, I feel like I constantly have this sort of mild but pleasant buzz, like I'm in some kind of pseudo-out of body experience, and I almost feel like I'm floating along in a river that I can kind of control, but also enjoy just drifting down. The key is to stay out of my own way, so I can feel the flow, and holy crap can I feel the flow right now.
Here's some of the stuff I wrote yesterday:
Scenes from a Hospitality Suite
Barry Greenstein just came into the PokerStars suite to grab a snack. I waved hello to him, and he came over to talk for a minute. I don't think he's been to sleep since the last time I saw him.
"Long night," I said.
"Oh, I've plenty of long nights playing poker," he said.
"Ask a question for the blog! Ask a question for the blog!" I could hear Otis in my head.
"I was asleep when you guys were nearing the end last night -- uh, I mean, this morning, so I only know what I've read online . . . were you shortstacked for a while before you went out?"
If the Otis in my head had a commentary on my from-the-hip inquiry, he kept quiet about it. I wasn't too sure, myself, but it was out there, and I waited for an answer.
"Well, I was doing great once we neared and passed the bubble, but I ran two huge hands into Doyle, and . . ." he trailed off, and shrugged. What more needs to be said? That's poker.
Rousso and Greenstein In, Brenes Out
Dressed in a track suit and tennis shoes, with an iPod nano strapped to her arm and her hair pulled back into a ponytail, it would be easy to think that Team PokerStars' Vanessa Rousso was on her way to the gym, rather than back into the Amazon room where she is currently assaulting today's $2000 No Limit Hold'Em event.
Normally, I'm a little shy about talking to ass-kicking poker players, and I'm equally shy about talking to beautiful women, but in this case, it was a peak hitting a trough, and, spurred on by the Voice of Otis, I got up from the couch and introduced myself.
"Hi, Vanessa? I'm Wil Wheaton," I said.
Don't stare, Wil. Don't stare.
"I play for Team PokerStars, and I --"
"Oh, I know you," she said, with a huge smile. "I mean, I don't know you, but I know you, you know?"
I just know that I blushed. I felt it in my cheeks and my neck. I'm pretty sure most of you would have done the same thing, if you'd been in my position.
Settle down, big guy. Talk about poker.
"I'm writing about PokerStars players for the blog," I said, pointing over toward my laptop, "how are you doing?"
. . .
Humberto Brenes just came in. On a king-high board, he got all his money in with KQ vs his opponent's AK.
"He had it in the big blind, and I was short on chips," he said.
"Lo siento, man," I said, "that sucks."
"Hey, it's this game," he said, still smiling. I'm starting to notice that Humberto is just that kind of guy. In fact, right now he's talking with two rather enthusiastic fans across the room.
Rousso Out, Greenstein In
Vanessa Rousso just came back into the suite, with slightly less spring in her step than when she last left
"I blew it," she said. "I didn't have to get all my money in, but I just . . . well, I blew it."
It turns out that Vanessa had a rather roller coaster run since the break, getting aces to hold up against kings and ace queen suited to build her stack, but losing a big hand against aces.
"I really messed up," she said, in that self-deprecating reflection that is common among poker players, (and, in fact, essential for every player's growth and development.) "I made top pair on a board with two flush draws, so I pushed the turn and he called with aces."
"Ugh." I said. "Are you sure it was such a bad play?"
"Yeah. I had enough chips to slow down, and I just . . . didn't."
"Well, for what it's worth, I would have done the same thing." somehow, I think, this statement coming from a donkey like me is going to make her feel better.
Greenstein Loses a Race
As far as I could tell, Team PokerStars' Barry Greenstein's stack didn't move much during the last couple of levels (maybe 1500 or so more), but Barry just stopped into the PokerStars suite, and gave me a recap of a pretty big hand that happened before the break.
Check me out, as I totally scoop Cardplayer:
"I lost a race," he said. Then, "Well, it wasn't exactly a 50-50 race, but it was still very close.
"I'd been playing a lot of hands, and I could feel that this guy was itching to get into a pot with me. I raised him in position for 1K with king jack of clubs, and he came back over the top of me for 2600. I had great odds to call, especially if he had an underpair to my cards, so I called, expecting a race.
He turned up ATo, which is actually closer than you'd think it is -- 55 to 45, or pretty close to that and . . . hey, do you want to run it?"
"Sure," I said. "Let's take a look."
Barry sat down on the couch next to me, and we fired up the poker odds calculator at twodimes.net.
Wow, I just realized that I wrote a ton of stuff yesterday, and what I reprinted here isn't even half of it. Are you still reading this? If you are, I'm guessing that you're part of about 6% of the WWdN readership; everyone else has probably thrown up their hands and vowed not to read my blog until the World Series is over. Sigh.
That actually brings up something that's been on my mind since yesterday morning: I have no idea if anyone is reading my work at the PokerStars blog. Well, that's not entirely correct: I know that people are reading it, of course, but I can't see stats on that blog, and I since there aren't any comments there, I haven't gotten any feedback. It's a weird feeling, you know? I really feel good about the stuff that's coming out of my brains, but it sort of felt like it was going into a vacuum, until I got this note this morning:
I'm a long time reader, and your pokerstars blog entries are off the hook. This year's WSOP is inspiring some great blogging all around. The "no live coverage" rule has done wonders for what I as a small rolling wannabe wants to read. Color coverage. I don't need to know every hand. Just tell me the stories.
Great job. There's a book here for you to write.
a little bit like a thirteen year-old girl when I read that, because the color coverage is
exactly what I'm trying to do, not just because I simply can't get into
the tournament area and get minute-by-minute coverage, but because
putting you where I am, whether it's my backyard while I'm having some
existential crisis or sitting in the hospitality suite at the Rio, is
what I think I do best, and it's what I have the most fun doing. If you
have feedback on what I'm writing -- good or bad -- I'd love to hear it.
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