LG... Life's Good
My favourite video that comes out of any event, is always the bloopers & highlights. I love looking back on all the good, and embarrassing times! Here's a compilation of myself, Kristy Arnett and Sarah Grant's finest moments.
For now, it's adios Las Vegas. Thanks for another AWESOME World Series of Poker. Next up, it's some well-needed Mexican beach time! to chillax!
I can't believe it's here again! Although today is Day #3 of the WSOP, tonight is my first official shift, reporting for PokerNews.com of course. It just so happened that the schedule worked out that I had the first two days off which has been such a tease with all this crazy news going on, I feel so out of the loop! I'm so excited to get in there amongst it all tonight! I've been in Las Vegas for about a month now, minus one week where I went home (yes, all the way to Australia) to refresh myself (and my suitcase) before the grind. I've got all the Vegas partying out of my system after Kristy Arnett's crazy bachelorette weekend in Las Vegas and then her and Andrew's AMAZING wedding in the little tucked away town of Fort Wayne. I had the honour of being one of her bridesmaids which was so much fun and I couldn't be happier to have been a part of such a perfect couple's union! Congratulations Andrew and Kristy!
So, now I'm ready to set myself back into Trojan Horse working mode for the next seven weeks! Working with Sarah Grant and Kristy Arnett all summer is going to be crazy, we have so much fun together which is probably evident in our first video kick of the WSOP with our own guided tour of the Rio:
I hope you're enjoying our coverage so far of the 42nd Annual World Series of Poker! The only place to find everything you need is at PokerNews.com
I am now home in the Land Down Under after the wildest Las Vegas adventure my body has ever experienced – and event I titled Kristy Arnett’s Three-Day-Vegas-Bachelorette-B ender . It was a triple event schedule and the choice was simple – buy in to one, some, or all events. Not many survived all events. In fact, it was just Kristy and me who made it through all three. Kristy even added on her own “rebuy event” on the fourth day when she joined up with the bachelor and his friends at XS. She’s one hell of a drinking machine.
The Preliminary Event
As I described in my blog last week, being a girl in this town can be cheap – really cheap. In fact, almost free if you play your cards right (yes, that pun was intended). Last week we enjoyed the free Goddess Dinner at Lavo held every Wednesday night. Its big-sister club Tao also holds these dinners on Thursdays. I’m much more of a fan of Asian cuisine over Italian, so I was super excited for this one, and we sure weren’t let down. Despite being hustled around like sheep for an hour with the hundreds of other girls queuing up to get our free feed, it was totally worth it. Don’t take that “hundreds of girls” comment lightly – I mean it.
Once you’re inside Tao and waiting for your table, your promoter can usually look after your group pretty well with free drink cards or even a bottle to help time pass. Once you’re seated, the waiter takes orders for the first complimentary round of cocktails, delivers a round of shots (also free), and from there the feast of all-you-can-eat lettuce wraps, dumplings, fried rice, sushi and sashimi begins. Our night remained tame for most part and ended up at Kristy’s house where rehearsals for LMFAO’s dance routine to Party Rock Anthem continued from the day before.
The Main Event
With some early change of plans, after Kristy’s fiancé surprised us that morning with a suite at Aria, our Main Event ended up even larger and longer than we had originally planned. All the girls put on their bikinis and packed their party dresses for that night and checked into one of the sexiest suites I’ve ever been in, overlooking Aria’s never-ending selection of pools. This weekend was looking more and more like the setting of The Hangover.
During the day, only three of us trooped up to the early drinking and dancing session by the pool with a visit to Liquid, Aria’s pool party. After standing around looking lost for a few minutes, we were offered a spare daybed, which wasn’t being used by a bachelor party that had “called it a night” by 2 p.m. We were obviously happy to accept.
After an afternoon of drinking, tanning and dancing by the pool, we trekked upstairs to make ourselves presentable for the official Main Event festivities. Being the Australian bridesmaid that I am, it was only natural for me to take us all to one show: Thunder From Down Under.
For weeks I had Kristy telling me she didn’t want a single feather boa, tiara, sash, or anything else tacky-bachelorette-party related, so I happily complied with her orders and she received none. Until we sit an intoxicated Kristy down in the front row of Thunder From Down Under and she realized she’s the only bachelorette without a token Thunder From Down Under tiara. She turned to me with a grumpy face and asked “Where is my tiara?!” So off I go on a hunt to ensure that she got a piece of plastic that guarantees her a lap dance. And that it did, from what she described as a “prickly bum” before she fell asleep midway through the show – still sitting in the front row. She’s a wild one, our ol’ Kris!
After the show and with a few drinks in tow, it was off to Haze for a boogie. It was here that Kristy received her weekend-making present from her fiancé and friends (including our very own Donnie Peters) with her best friend and Maid of Honor showing up as a surprise.
The Second Chance Event
After seven girls crashed (and trashed) the one-bed suite (the most comfortable bed I’ve ever been on) we were all up by 11 a.m. with drinks in hand ready to go again. We originally had a daybed booked at Tao Beach, but figured we’d hit up Liquid again instead, seeing as how we were there already. Well, that was a bad decision all thanks to a promoter named Will who couldn’t keep a promise of helping us out with a daybed. Long story short, two hours of sitting at the bar (I’ll admit with a few free champagnes to soften the blow), we finally were told that we couldn’t get one. I was so angry! In fact, I was so angry that even our bachelorette herself bought me a drink to calm me down, and it was one heck of a strong Mojito, so it did the trick. So strong, that the next few hours were just a giant blur.
After packing up from the suite, we went to Kristy’s house to take a nap. I really thought that would be the end of the three days of constant drinking, but two hours later I was awakened up by the girls who were ready to rally. Seriously? Uuuuggghh! My body was hating me! Of course, with everyone struggling so hard, yet still so persistent to still go out, you just know it’s going to be one of those nights that top off the entire weekend. And that it was. One of the best promoters in Las Vegas, James Ramirez, hooked us up with a table on the dance floor of Tao. Jamie Fox was hosting the night, and I swear we were sharing the table next to us with a member of the JabbaWockeeZ. I would go into detail of the night, but unfortunately I can’t – it blurred into my afternoon of blankness...
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:
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.
I knew I was in for a good time at the first stop of the PokerStars.net Latin American Poker Tour's fourth season when I found out it was in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Many of my friends are from that city and they have raved on for as long as I've known them about how amazing it is. Now I know why!
We've all heard the reputation Brazil has for its gorgeous women, and to prove this theory correct, upon first arrival you're greeted with some of the most stunning female immigration officers. There was one in particular who was so gorgeous that when I brought her up that night to other friends who traveled separately they knew exactly who I was talking about. On our first night a local friend, Sergio Prado, who so kindly supplied all of my pre-game tips on Sao Paulo, took the PokerNews video team out to my now-favorite area in Sao Paulo, Vila Madelena, for our first round of Caipirinhas. We had the traditional kind with Cachaça, a Brazilian liquor, and boy-oh-boy were they strong. I could only handle one and it took us about an hour to finish!
That night was Team PokerStars Pro Jose Ignacio Barbero's birthday, so we all ended up at a samba club nearby. It was only a Wednesday night, but the club was still full with the most amazing dancers decked out in the most extravagant costumes shaking their hips all over the stage. Full Tilt Poker Red Pro, and local resident, Felipe "Mojave" Ramos organized a VIP table for Nacho's birthday with fellow Team PokerStars Pro's Angel Guillen, Christian De Leon and the latest addition to Team PokerStars Online Jorge 'Baalim' Limon. It was here that the stunning women continued to appear, which you can see a sample of thanks to Felipe's tweet.
The next day was our first day of shooting around the city. It got off to a very hot and sweaty start at our first few sights until the biggest, most unexpected storm came bucketing down around us. This was when we learned all about Sao Paulo's unreliable and extreme weather trend during the summer. After braving the rain for half, and realizing it just wasn't going anywhere, we prematurely wrapped up our video and jumped in the first cab we could find for what was supposed to be a 15-minute ride home. Three-hours later we pulled into our hotel. Three of the longest and possibly most frustrating hours of my life! Sao Paulo traffic is like no other, and then add flooded roads on top of the already stand-still rush hour, and you have yourself a three-hour journey. Once we got back to the hotel it was straight into the party dress for the Welcome Party and round two of the Caipirinhas, but this time just with vodka!
The next day was a historic one for the PokerStars.net LAPT with the Main Event attracting 536 players -- the most we've ever seen in a live poker tournament south of the border -- setting the fourth season off to a brilliant start. Despite having a field (and final table) of mostly Brazilians, the locals still couldn't keep the title on their home turf and it was Chilean Alex Manzano who pocketed the R$615,000 and prestigious trophy.
One of the most celebrated events in all of Latin America is football (or soccer). Our very own Kristy Arnett also shares this passion, so I took her, Felipe Ramos and Team PokerStars Pro Andre Akkari to a local park for a "soccer-off." Kristy absolutely blew us away with this little maneuver she pulled, rightfully winning the competition.
The next most-celebrated event in Brazil is the world-famous Carnaval, and again Akkari and Ramos took the PokerNews video team (pictured above) to samba school, Império de Casa Verde, to watch (and take part in) a practice session for one of the participating schools in the upcoming competition. This was definitely one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I can't even begin to imagine what the "Main Event" is like, and all I know is that this addition has been made to my bucket list. That night was topped off with an early-morning visit to Joakins, where I can promise, you will find the best burgers in all of Sao Paulo.
I'm sure most of you will enjoy this edition of Calling the Clock. You really can't get much hotter than ESPN Argentina's LAPT Hostess Luli Fernandez. If you've never heard of her, then do yourself a favor and type her name into Google Images. You're welcome.
Lastly, if all of that is not enough of a nutshell of our fabulous week in Sao Paulo, Brazil, then here's even more of our highlights wrapped into less than 5 minutes.
Follow me on Twitter! @LynnGilmartin
It's safe to say I just had the most fun-filled, action-packed, brilliant month of my life! From my birthday in Las Vegas, my first November Nine, meeting my sponsor child in the Philippines, cheering for the Dolphins and the Penguins in Miami and then the Magic in Orlando, my first Thanksgiving, hanging with Mickey Mouse in Disney World, to drinking pina coladas with Kristy Arnett on a Caribbean cruise. All I can say is, life’s great!
It's my Party
I turned 26 on November 3, and there’s no better place in the world to be than Sin City. I had some Aussie friends in town and of course my dear friends from PokerNews to help me drown my sorrows in officially passing the halfway mark to 50. The aftermath consisted of bruises that took almost a month to heal, meaning the night was a complete success.
It feels a lot longer than just one month ago, but this year was my first November Nine experience. The hype, the entrance songs, the gum chewing, and the never-ending Jack Effel dad-jokes – I simply loved all of it. I had picked John Racener to win, so I wasn't too far off! Speaking of picks, I almost beat the PokerNews Team in the ESPN Poker Pick'em, but Chad Halloway got me in the tiebreaker!
PokerStars.net APPT Cebu
I could go on and on about how amazing the Shangri-La Mactan Resort in Cebu, Philippines, is and the amount of fun we had during the PokerStars.net Asia Pacific Poker Tour, but I will allow this video to do the talking while wrapping up the Main Event.
It wasn’t all glitz and glamour on this trip to the Philippines, though. I have a sponsor child in Cebu and I went to meet him and his family which was the most incredible life changing experience. For just $250 per year, my sponsor child can go to school and participate in wellness programs through Kadasig Aid and Development. Seeing the impact that my tiny contributions make on not only the child's life, but the family and community was amazing. If you would love to help make a difference, only $35 will buy a hamper to feed a Filipino family this Christmas. And yes, that is a PokerStars bag I gave him.
I'm in Miami B#$*%
Once the PokerStars.net APPT Cebu was over, it was back to the US for one crazy night in LA during the North American Poker Tour, and then, without any sleep and after a few too many drinks, it was on to a 6am flight to Florida for two weeks of vacation. For our first night in Miami, Team PokerStars Pro (and crazed Miami Dolphins fan) Jason Mercier joined us at a Dolphins game against the Bears. Growing up, I've always loved going to various live sporting events, and I have to say, the USA sure knows how to put on a show.
When I thought that was all, a couple of days later we ended up going to my first NHL game, which I think now is my favorite sport to watch live – so much brutal action! My boyfriend and I started our road trip from Miami to Naples, where we stopped, in the middle of nowhere, at Miccosukkee Casino at 1 a.m. for a little $1/$2 no-limit hold'em fix, and it didn’t last long. The felts were so dirty I couldn’t bring myself to shuffle my chips in case my nails scraped up the dirt on the felt, and that’s even if the dirt on the chips allowed them to freely separate to even successfully shuffle. When security guards require guns on their belts, you know you’re not in the best of locations.
After an hour, we left empty handed, which feels like the norm lately. An amazing three days past in Naples – a stunning town that for the first time in my life, made me excited about getting old and retiring – we were on the road again up to Orlando for a Disney World fix, my first Thanksgiving, and we figured, why not throw in another sport in, scoring last minute tickets to an NBA game with Miami Heat playing Orlando Magic. This, too, was another first. My first sighting of Dwight Howard. Oh yes.
Of course, the biggest "first" of the many I had this month, was my first Thanksgiving. Along with the rest of the American nation I was all turkeyed out that afternoon, although the next day I certainly paid for the ten-too-many Mimosa's I had in the solid 14-hour drinking session. Another first to add to that was my first attempt at Cornhole. I completely sucked, but I must say, my form was nothing short of professional.
If you Like Pina Coladas...
The fun ramped up even more when Kristy Arnett and her fiancé flew into Florida for a crazy night out in Miami followed by a five-day cruise through the Caribbean. What more could you want? Well, we wanted poker. We had assumed (and accepted) on day one that the casino did not have a poker table, until we heard an announcement that they were holding a no-limit hold'em tournament the following day. The reaction from all four of us when the announcement went over the PA system was like four meerkats sighting food for the first time in a week. We thought our prayers to top off the tropical paradise we were living in had been answered.
Until we saw this:
A structure like this would really draw out serious skill at the table, right? Ha! Obviously we did not play, but we did manage to get a $1/$2 cash game started on a couple of the nights. A cash game that took a 10% rake up to $25 with a minimum of $1 on every pot – including walks! Of course, we were on vacation, so the most important part was that we had a great time, and that we did. The cruise was phenomenal. I say that because it’s the truth, and I’m running out of descriptive words. In fact, I’m giving up on words altogether as the hundreds of photos we took would do a better job than any words ever could!
Home, Sweet, Home... Almost
I'm not quite home just yet, but close enough! I'm back in the land Down Under for the PokerStars.net Asia Pacific Poker Tour Grand Final in Sydney, Australia. It's become apparent over the past couple of years that we don't quite speak English down here, so I guess I could say it's so refreshing to be able to speak in my native language again! It's only my second time to visit this city, which is kind of incredible because I'm from just "next-door" in Melbourne. There's a rival between the two cities, so as a Melbournite, I'm breaking all sorts of rules in saying this, but I have fallen in love with Sydney!
All eyes in the poker world will be focused on Sin City this weekend whether in person, on ESPN, or right here at PokerNews! Millionaires will walk away from this final table, with the world’s biggest prize in poker being handed to a new champion, giving us another household name in poker.
So you didn’t make it to the November Nine. Heck, you may not have even made it to Las Vegas, yet. But a boy can dream, right? Imagine winning all those millions of dollars and then being in one of the world’s most tempting cities to blow it all. Well, here’s a taste of exactly what that would be like, with a sample of some of Las Vegas' most extravagant luxuries.
The first stop has to be fine dining with so many of the world’s best restaurants tucked into one strip of lights. Fancy a 16-course French meal? Or perhaps a “$5,000 burger?” I was lucky enough to sample both.
Of course an update of a man’s favorite boy-toy is one of the first must-dos when scoring large. Andy Bloch showed Kristy Arnett his sexy Tesla Motors sports car, staying environmentally conscious while still spinning around like a baller.
When spending so much time with your hands laying across the ledge of a poker table for all your opponents to look at for hours on end, your wrists have to look the part.
The Vegas heat may have made an exit for the year, but I just couldn’t skip this video. It’s the perfect taste of pool-party season in Las Vegas and here’s a taste of how to experience it like you belong in Hollywood.
While you’re all cashed up, what better way to continue your poker dream than to splurge on your favorite sports or hit up Bobby’s Room for some high-stakes action on a table resembling an episode of The Big Game?
Follow us on Twitter for up-to-the-minute news.
My job here at PokerNews is really hard. It’s so tough that I have to endure party after party after party when attending all of these poker tournaments across the globe. Throughout all the sweat and vodka cocktails, I can promise you, with so much dedication to my job, I will never fail to attend each and every one of these parties, just so I can show you what you could have been going through. In self-recognition for such hardship, I decided to compile my most standout parties to date and tell you why I loved them so much, of course!
PokerStars.net LAPT Florianopolis
I’ve always spoken openly about the giant soft spot in my heart for the Latin American Poker Tour, as it never fails to provide such a good time with such amazing people. The party in Florianopolis, Brazil, would definitely be my favorite of Season 3. I’m not sure if that’s because I spontaneously tore up the dance floor with Team PokerStars Pros Joe Cada and Veronica Dabul until the wee hours of the morning, had my first taste of a Caipirinha, or because I was lucky enough to receive dance lessons from the best of the best – as Kristy Arnett puts it, Brazilian women win at life – and wow, can they move their hips like no other! Enjoy the second half of this one fellas.
PokerStars.net APPT Cebu
It excites me so much knowing this tournament is just around the corner. The PokerStars.net Asia Pacific Poker Tour is returning to Cebu, Philippines, to fill up the stunning Shangri-La Mactan Resort once again for a trip of absolute luxury. I’ll be writing more about this amazing location in coming weeks, but for the party – think crashing waves, palm trees, sand, balmy nights, fireworks, incredible food, and flowing drinks served by sexy Filipina. What more could you want?
My favorite time of year at home in Melbourne is Australia Day – the entire country goes wild. The day always falls during Aussie Millions, which is just another reason to add to the long list of reasons why you should head to Melbourne for one of the best tournament series in the world. I snuck out to St. Kilda Beach during the 2010 Aussie Millions to show off just how crazy the national holiday party is.
World Series of Poker
Surely it's no surprise that there is more than one party on my list for this category. The first: combine Snoop Dogg with Las Vegas and there is some serious fun to be had. All I am going to say is, thank you PokerStars!
Next was the PokerNews Kick off Party at Lagasse’s Stadium on the eve of the 2010 World Series of Poker. The team got together for the first time for the year, and we were all bursting at the seams with anticipation to get started. It’s always a treat when Gloria Balding, Kristy Arnett and I get to actually work together in the same video, and on top of that including the rest of our PokerNews friends that usually hide behind the screens of their laptop for the Live Reporting Blog. Meet some of our team and their not-so-accurate predictions pre-WSOP. Note: don’t miss Editor in Chief Matthew Parvis' red-wine mouth.
Filling out my customs arrival card when landing back in Australia two days ago was so bizarre. I said that I boarded that plane in Argentina, yet spent most of my time in New Zealand. What a strange route. Welcome to the strange life that I love! I’ve been from what feels like opposite sides of the world, from New Zealand to Argentina in just two weeks, and what a whirlwind it was.
Auckland, New Zealand
Despite feeling like I’m just next door to my home town in Melbourne, Australia, I find that Auckland has an extremely relaxed, peaceful atmosphere that’s so refreshing compared to the busy city lifestyle in Melbourne. I mentioned in my recent guide to Auckland that this is home to some of the friendliest people on earth, and it’s no lie. Despite the Maori looking like some of the scariest people (see The Haka, and even the champion Brotha D in the Wrap Up video), as soon as they open their mouths, you almost just want to give them a giant hug! Here is a video we made when we first arrived. I must say, it was hard work putting it together with every line taken from a different place across the city, so I’m pretty proud of it.
The APPT Main Event was short and sweet, with only one Day 1, which means we had a champion in just four days. It was a pretty entertaining four days, with Team PokerStars Pro Tony Hachem attempting the Haka and Daniel Neilson and Andrew Hinrichsen jumping off the Sky Tower. To top off a fantastic week, we saw the Main Event dwindle down to heads-up play between two extremely deserving people. Everyone was torn between Brotha D, the lovable and well-known Godfather of New Zealand Hip Hop, and Australian poker-scene regular Tom Grigg. It was quite the epic heads-up battle lasting more than four hours, and it was Brotha D who eventually triumphed, with Grigg being gracious about it. You can see all of this and more crammed into the following four minutes.
It was quite the ride getting to the LAPT Grand Final. After the long-haul flight from Down Under, throw in an expected three-hour drive from Buenos Aires that took twice as long because of a strike with a driver that couldn’t speak a word of English, and boy was I happy to finally arrive in Rosario and go straight to bed! Of course, it was all totally worth it. What a fantastic place Rosario is. We had a couple of days to wander the streets, and our hotel was just walking distance from the main strip, Cordoba, so there was plenty of sightseeing and shopping to be done. It was unbelievable how cheap everything is. From $60 shoes to $4 bottles of amazing local wine over dinner – we were loving life over there.
That video was made with ease thanks to our luck in finding a cab driver who just happened to live between Rosario and Las Vegas. Jackpot! An English-speaking cab driver is a rare find, so we kept him with us for about an hour to give us our own little guided-tour to catch all the sights.
I resurrected Calling the Clock after it sat off the shelf for quite some time. The first victim was Tennis Pro Gaston Gaudio, but then my highlight was on our very own PokerNews hostess Kristy Arnett with thanks to the help of the entire PokerNews team.
Throughout the LAPT Main Event, we had so much fun, as always. The Welcome Party that PokerStars threw at the City Center Casino was fantastic, with the band making use of the most bizarre things, such as plastic bags, as instruments, and cannons firing out PokerStars-themed confetti to send off Season 3 with a literal bang. We saw some of the most amazing looking women wandering around the poker room, and I met some of the most generous and lovely people. A third of the final table were local, and amazingly, in the back-to-back fashion that has existed on the LAPT, with Team PokerStars Pro Nacho Barbero winning two Main Event titles, and Team PokerStars Pro Christian De Leon winning back-to-back Second Chance side events, the LAPT Florianopolis Champion Matthias Habernig made his way to this Main Event final table. He didn’t take it down, but what an amazing achievement for him after starting off in Brazil as an unknown Austrian qualifier. The title eventually went to Peruvian Martin Sansour whom you can meet in the following wrap-up video, once again rolling our days of nonstop laughs and poker into just three minutes.
Another highlight while in Rosario, was when Kristy took the PokerNews cameras to the hotel to film a Sunday Grind with player manager Dan Frank and Team PokerStars Pros Victor Ramdin and Gualter Salles. I guess you could say Salles suffered a bad beat only seconds before our arrival, as his laptop screen was shattered when we got there. You’ll have to wait for that video to come out soon!