LG... Life's Good
It's been six months since I've graced the strip of Sin City, and seeing I felt like I lived her last year that's a LONG time away from this place. My liver of course was squirming with fear as the plane landed, but I gave it a couple of days to get settled first. My priority? Getting my WholeFoods fix. I'm staying with Kristy Arnett as I'm here performing my "bridesmaid duties" in the lead up to her big wedding at the end of the month! Of course, that involves a three-day bender for her bachelorette party next weekend. Ooooh that week I'm sure I'll have quite a blog to write. So Kristy picked me up from the airport and we literally went straight to WholeFoods before heading home. That night was my second fix for dinner - Tropical Smoothie. Why oh WHY do we not have these two stores Down Under?
So as I said, the first couple of days were tame, just work and all that girlie stuff Kristy and I indulge in when we get together. Until Wednesday night came. Kristy organised a girls night with the PokerNews ladies Sarah Grand and Elaine Chaivarlis. We went to the Goddess Dinner at Lavo which is basically free dinner and cocktails as long as your table has no boys bits sitting at it. Let me tell you guys, I know most of you come to Vegas with a very strong mission in mind... Any smart boy would take himself down to Lavo on a Wednesday night for dinner (or Tao on a Thursday). They honestly have a 9:1 ratio of girls to guys. You're welcome.
After dinner we headed straight towards MGM to play our beloved 50c/$1 NLH game where we can let the booze flow with a risk-free $50 max buy-in. Luckily Sarah called ahead to put us on the list, only to be told that THEY DON'T HAVE THAT GAME ANYMORE! We were devastated! Thankfully, dirty old Bills offers the same game, so off to Bill's Gamblin' Hall we went... I was the only loser of the night seeing that Sarah Grant cleaned me up. Of course she's dealt AA when I'm dealt QQ and she's dealt KK when I'm dealt 1010. Oh and then I got owned by some dude when I attempted to bluff into slow played AA. That's about all I remember from the session apart from my hand to mouth movement with various shot glasses, once again thanks to Sarah Grant
From there, it was home to Kristy's Mac for a Photo Booth session. Oh wow.
The next day we had to get up to record a PokerNews Podcast at Caesars Palace before the WSOPC Main Event kicked off. We were quite rusty to say the least. We interviewed Jamie Gold, who, earned a whole new level of respect from me after our interview. You can listen to it here:
I’m writing this as I’m sitting on my third of four flights in my trek out of Lima, Peru, after an awesome week at the PokerStars.net LAPT. As always I had an amazing time. It’s really hard not to with the awesome team PokerStars has both behind the scenes and on the felt, and of course the stunning destinations that each stop takes us to.
This time I was lucky enough to return to the classy little town of Miraflores – one of the most upscale neighborhoods of Lima. My first visit was on a warm and welcomed break from the Rio for a week during the WSOP last year when the LAPT went to Peru for the first time in season three. Of course, that visit was rushed with the need to get back to Las Vegas, so this time around I took the liberty of arriving a day early to really take in the sights around town, as I wrote about last week.
Once the rest of the PokerNews team arrived, including our new Aussie hostess Nichole Pickering for her "initiation," it was straight into Trojan Horse working mode. I was hosting videos for PokerStars.tv that week, and our first shoot was of all the beautiful sights around Mirafloress, which you can check below.
Larcomar is one of my favorite spots in Miraflores,. If you didn’t catch it in the video above, it’s a three-story mall built into the cliff’s edge overlooking the ocean, equipped with shopping, restaurants, cinemas and two of Lima’s best nightclubs. On the eve of the Main Event, I took Team PokerStars Pro Christian De Leon on a little shopping trip. He and fellow Mexican Team Pro Angel Guillen are definitely one of the best-dressed team of pros at the felt. Angel was supposed to join us on this shopping tour but after a late-night snack at the poker table he was bed-ridden with food poisoning. The moral of his story? Don’t order creamy pasta in the middle of the night in some foreign casino’s poker room! So Christian and I had set aside a couple of hours to find him a “Day 2 Shirt.” Little did I know that this man can shop. The first shop we went into was also our last, and we both came out with our hands full.
As I mentioned, Nicki Pickering joined us in Lima for her first-ever gig with PokerNews. Of course, that then required an official initiation with a calling of the clock! You can get to know Nicki a little better in the following “sixty-seconds” – lets face it, I’m a rule-breaker when it comes to the minute-limit in these videos, athough I’m sure many would appreciate it with some of the “post-minute” questions I threw at her.
For a little “team bonding,” Nicki and I decided to enter the LAPT Ladies Event with our iPhones glued to PokerNews and microphones ready to go for break-time interviews, of course. I’m not going to lie; I was pretty impressed with the two of us at the multi-tasking awesomeness that took place over these two hours. The players always seem so pleasantly surprised when they see us actually playing for a change rather than always standing over them. So besides having our Mexican backers railing us, it was also side-bet-central around our table of ladies. Those who had faith in me were deservedly paid off as I managed to make it to the money with a three-way chop. There were only two tables, so it’s nothing to write home about, but obviously I was still excited, seeing as how I managed to not only last longer than Nicki, but I actually knocked her out. That’s what happens when the new girl challenges the old duck!
It's rare that I get to write my blogs while in the subject city, but this week I arrived in Lima, Peru, a couple of days early before jumping into a crazy working mode for the PokerStars.net Latin American Poker Tour. My initial goal was to squeeze in a quick trip to Machu Picchu, but it was harder to get to than I thought, so, unfortunately, those plans fell through. Nonetheless, roaming the stunning streets of Miraflores is certainly not a disappointing backup plan.
When I checked into my hotel, the Thunderbird Fiesta Hotel & Casino, I got my first pleasant surprise. My room, like all the others in the hotel, is a two-story loft with a kitchen equipped with a giant fridge ready to be filled with goodies from the 24-hour supermarket next door. Anyone who stays in hotels regularly knows that's an extremely rare treat! On top of that, the host venue for the LAPT is conveniently across the street. That is where I am right now, sitting in the media office of the Atlantic City Casino, a small but stylish casino, getting ready for the third stop on the LAPT's fourth season to get under way.
Miraflores is one of the most popular tourist destinations of Lima, set almost 80 meters above sea level, with some of the ritziest hotels and restaurants lining the cliffs of Costa Verde ("Green Coast"), overlooking the stunning ocean. It was here that I was lucky enough to eat at one of the prettiest restaurants I've ever been to, La Rosa Nautica (pictured below), a seafood restaurant set at the end of a pier with the waves crashing around you and a view of Miraflores atop the cliffs behind you as you eat. It was stunning! Surprisingly when the bill came it was relatively well priced for a gourmet meal in such a gorgeous setting, and considering the menu had no prices listed in it. That's usually my trusty indicator that I can't afford it!
On the cliffs above La Rosa Nautica sits Larcomar, a gorgeous three-story, open-air mall, overlooking the ocean, full of shops, restaurants and, what's said to be two of the best nightclubs in all of Lima. I've only been to one of them, Aura, and it was pretty awesome. It was here that I had my first "Reggaeton dancing experience." All I can say is that it's certainly different to the way we dance back in Australia! The only downside to Larcomar is that the complex is certainly not something typical of Peru, lacking the local culture. This is where you'll find the true Americanization of the area with Tony Roma's, Burger King, Pizza Hut and all that jazz tucked into what I call the "American Corner." If you ignore the corner and take in the stunning view, especially at sunset, then you will remember where you are again.
Speaking of sunset, the perfect place to watch it, if you've brought your girlfriend along, or picked one up on the way, is at El Parque del Amor (The Park of Love), just a 10-minute walk along the cliff side from Larcomar. Some say it's a poor smaller imitation of Gaudi's Park Guell in Barcelona with its rounded mosaic benches and romantic quotes tiled into the walls. In the middle of the perfectly manicured gardens is a giant statue of two lovers embraced in a kiss just to set the scene. Warning: skip this and watch the sunset elsewhere if you're feeling a little lonely -- all the loved-up couples surrounding you will probably just make you cringe.
My last recommendation is to take a trip to downtown Miraflores, right by Parque Central, to enjoy a pizza at any of the restaurants along Calle de las Pizzas ("Pizza Street"). It's a quaint little street lined with bricked restaurants similar to something you would see around Europe. There are a few pubs and bars that fill up at night, so it's a great place to come for a drink or two. The biggest bonus? Free Wi-Fi! After a few minutes of heckling from various restaurant servers we decided on Mezzaluna Cafe & Bar for one of its specialty pizzas and my first sip of the popular local soda, Inca Kola. The Inca Kola was average (perhaps choosing the Diet option was to blame) but of course the pizza was delicious. Although much to my disappointment, the Wi-Fi wasn't working, so there went my opportunity for on-the-spot TwitPics.
First came PCA, then Los Angeles. Well, kinda. Now, the PokerStars.net North American Poker Tour returns to the East Coast for its second season. The Mohegan Sun property, complete with its stunning hand-crafted interior, spread across 240 acres along the Thames River in Uncasville, Connecticut, will once again fill up with hundreds of poker players for one of the nation’s largest poker tournaments of the year.
Tucked between Boston and New York, the Mohegan Sun has over 300,000 square feet of gaming space including a bustling poker room with more than 40 tables, over 130,000 square feet of shopping and more than 40 places to treat your taste buds. That’s right, all under one roof, in what feels like the middle of nowhere, for the perfect escape from a busy lifestyle. When I went last year, I only left the complex once for a peek at the surrounding area and to catch a taste of the friendly local service, which involved eating a pub meal at a cute little tavern just around the corner from the casino. Now, if only I could remember the name of the place! Besides that, there really is no need to leave this perfect combination of nature and the artificial entertainment that we all love inside a casino. Here's Kristy Arnett giving us a tour of the complex, including the packed-to-the-rafters poker room offering plenty of juicy cash games.
Last year's five-day event attracted a whopping 716 players, each paying $5,000 to form a prize pool of more than $3.2 million. The top spot, with $750,000 to go with it, went to Vanessa Selbst who absolutely bulldozed the final table (cue the Team PokerStars Pro patch)! Although it’s not just about the Main Event during the NAPT. The schedule of 35 events includes the ESPN2-televised Bounty Shootout that Jason Mercier won last year. The Shootout also will run again, with a $10,300 buy-in. To welcome players to the East and kick off the Main Event festivities, PokerStars hosted a party at Ultra 88. Of course Kristy Arnett was there with the camera to bring you some of the highlights, mainly consisting of Ryan D’Angelo's dance moves.
The one unfortunate thing about partying here is that the liquor licenses don’t allow any service of alcohol after 2 a.m. I remember walking the floors of the casino one night searching desperately for an open bar or a cocktail waitress. Much to our disappointment, we had to send ourselves off to
our mini-bars bed instead. On the other hand, one thing you can find in the middle of the night is food. For those who suffer with late-night munchy cravings, the Chef’s Deli will be your savior with authentic New York-style sandwiches served around the clock, conveniently located on the way back to the hotel from the poker room.
During more human hours, pick up a giant plate of nachos and a cocktail while getting serenaded by some sort of live band at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, or for some delicious mini burgers that make a perfect prop-betting subject then head to Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain where our hard-earned $20 delivered plenty of laughs as PokerNews' Live Reporting Manager Donnie Peters fit this plate of burgers in his mouth at once. #dinnerbreakantics
If basketball and steaks tickle your fancy, then you’re in luck as you will probably walk past the giant Michael Jordan's Steakhouse every day on your way to the tournament area for a teasing. For some fancy dining then Todd English’s Tuscany is a must-visit for a rustic Tuscan fare tucked behind the stunning waterfall in the center of the complex.
But, I've saved the best advice for last. My favorite spot of all is Leffingwells Martini Bar, a bar tucked inside a three-story mountain in the middle of the gaming floor. Conveniently located just outside the front of the tournament area, you can peacefully sip on a martini while “under the stars” with the world’s largest indoor planetarium dome overhead.
There are so many reasons why NAPT Mohegan Sun is worth the journey. I would love to be returning again this year, but instead I will be Peru-bound for the PokerStars.net Latin American Poker Tour in Lima! Of course, you can follow all of our live reporting from both of these events from Twitter by following @PokerNews_Live.