LG... Life's Good
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.
The fourth stop of the inaugural PokerStars.net North American Poker Tour heads to the Bicycle Casino in the City of Angels, Los Angeles, beginning November 12 with a $5,000 Main Event, as well as an invitation-only, televised $5,000 Bounty Shootout that’s absolutely rippled with pros, guaranteeing you some great viewing from the rail. Whether you qualified online or you’re still deciding to make the trek West, read on for a quick guide.
Getting There and Around
If you live close enough, consider driving to Los Angeles so you have your car handy. If you’re flying in, I strongly suggest renting a car. It’s such a huge, spread out city, making it hard to get around without one. I’ve never attempted LA without a car.
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is about 25 minutes from downtown LA and the Bicycle Casino in Bell Gardens. LAX is one of the biggest airports in the world (the fifth busiest to be precise) and the cause of plenty of my headaches in the past, so be sure to leave yourself lots of transit time. You can find driving directions on the Bike’s website.
If you qualified for NAPT Los Angeles, then you’ll be staying at the historic Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles, home to the very first Oscars in downtown LA. Hundreds of movies and TV shows have been filmed in its halls, including Iron Man, Mission Impossible, Wedding Crashers, and Ghost Busters. Even the likes of Alfred Hitchcock have lurked in the stairwells. The hotel is a 15-minute drive to the Bicycle Casino, with PokerStars.net offering continuous shuttle busses to and from the hotel and casino.
If you didn’t qualify and are looking for a place to stay, then PokerStars.net has put together a dedicated team to help you book accommodations with special rates, so head on over to napthotels.com. If you're booking yourself, keep in mind that this is one of those exceptions where the closest hotel is most likely your worst option rather than the best. PokerStars.net's hotel of choice is at a distance from the host venue for a reason!
A Little Taste of Hollywood
You simply cannot visit LA without tasting all that it’s known for – the glitz and glamor of Hollywood. Strut down the Walk of Fame and compare your feet to Marilyn’s and stare in amazement at the tiny size of Frank Sinatra’s hands. Watch the limos scale Rodeo Drive as you enjoy a coffee (that’s all I could afford on that street), and if you really want to feel like the scum of the earth, pick up a star-spotting map and drive by the ridiculous mansions in Beverly Hills, snapping photos as you drive past the paparazzi vans camped out in front of Jennifer Aniston’s house. OK, scrap the map, but a drive around The Hills is a must.
So you're pushed for time and want to sample all the LA has to offer in the tiny window of time you have before play begins. Well, Sunset Boulevard will give you a good sample. Start downtown to sample the seediness mixed with cool; pass all the riches of Beverly Hills and the famous Sunset Strip, go all the way to the Pacific Ocean in Malibu or Santa Monica. By the time you get to Malibu, you’ll probably be hungry, so drop into Reel Inn for some seafood by the water without denting your wallet.
If you're busto and have all day free, take a trip to Universal Studios right in the heart of the city. I haven't been there in ten years, but I'm certain it is still a huge eye opener giving you a whole new level of appreciation for film and special effects while you scare the pants off yourself on the rides. If that’s not your thing, then perhaps renting a pair of roller blades to join all the booty shorts on Venice Beach is.
I love to visit comedy clubs all over the world. I’ve never been to one in LA, but I have been to the Improv in Lake Tahoe, and Hollywood also has an Improv.. If Lake Tahoe had me holding my stomach in agony from laughing so hard, then I have no doubt LA will too.
Unfortunately, I will not be in LA this time around, but I'll definitely be following the NAPT live coverage. Instead, I am in what feels like a tropical heaven with the other half of the PokerNews Live Reporting Team covering the PokerStars.net Asia Pacific Poker Tour in Cebu, Philippines! You can find the simultaneous coverage of both events right here on PokerNews.