Musings on Poker and Other Stuff
It is 1:35 in the morning and I am sitting in the dark in the Penn and Teller Theatre uploading videos. And I still have energy! The energy in the Rio during the WSOP Main Event Final Table is so palpable.
I remember the first time I was here for this event in 2010 I had never experienced anything like it. I was just getting to know poker and there were so many interesting characters. The Grinder, Duhamel, Senti, Cheong, Dolan, Jarvis, Racener...I mean I was just overwhelmed. And then there was the action. There were so many cards that fell to create these epic moments. Someone hitting a 3 outer on the river. The turn giving tons of new outs. Even Shaun the Dealer told me he had never dealt so many coolers and bad beats in his life.
Now things are even closer to home. Before we watched from a window high above the action. Now we are on the main stage. I can literally feel the stands shake when the rail goes crazy. I can hear everything. I can smell the hang overs from the rowdy fans.
(my view this year)
It is such an incredible experience. I've never seen a professional football game but I have to liken it to something of a spectacle like that. Yet there is something that makes this entirely unique.
The fans have some personal investment. It isn't just like a football game where maybe you chose your team based on where you were born or where you live now or even just randomly. Almost every spectator in here is rooting for someone because they know them and love them. It is not a convenient affair at a stadium 20 minutes away. People travel from all over to see this thing. And many of them put their hearts in it. The feel like they are a part of it. And they might not even be poker fans. Although I imagine if they weren't before this, they will be after.
Horses scare easily. So man invented blinders to keep them from seeing things in their peripheral vision which might unnecessarily spook them. It is a very basic analogy, but we all have this. We all have the things which keep our focus in front of us or else we might go crazy with all the amazing things this world has to offer. The coolest thing is when something new comes into your field of vision and it joins the sight you have created.
Four years ago I didn't know anything about poker. Obviously I still have tons to learn, but with each passing year my understanding of the games and its players grows exponentially. The first year I feverishly studied the blog to get an understanding of all the players I would need to know to cultivate my interviewing skills. There is no amount of studying however that can surpass the knowledge that comes with time.
Now during the Main Event some non-professional poker players who often have other skills find their way into this little poker world. Of course with their mass appeal it is important to cover them as well. This year I heard there was a hockey player in the main. So, I read his Wikipedia and headed off to his table. Minus the fact that this hilarious guy with a goblet walked right thru our shot, I thought it went okay for an interviewer who maybe has 10 mins of prep time.
Someone mentioned to me yesterday that there was some article with the video in it on a Yahoo site. Honestly, at this point in my job, I've gotten pretty used the the whole internet troll thing. I never read the comments. Everyone has an opinion. But since everyone was talking about it I figured I better read it. The big complaint is that I don't know who he is. To which I reply, "okay sports writer, do you know who Chris Moorman is?" Am I supposed to know everything about everything. I mean come on! My job is to report on poker, not hockey.
It is interesting because I think in some ways I am guilty of this also. The poker world is so isolated and I don't even realize it. I will be talking to people and mention Vanessa Selbst or Jason Mercier and they will just have a blank stare. It is so hard to see the world outside of your own tinted vision.
The amazing thing is that your own vision is constantly evolving. When I was living with no electricity in Thailand my family thought I must be on drugs, because when you come to rely on all your amenities, you think you can't exist without them. But, humans have such an amazing ability to adapt. Given two weeks I think almost anyone could adjust to almost anything. It is part of how we are built.
The difficult thing is to learn empathy. The essential thing is to at least try to look at the world through the eyes of someone else. Everyone can not know everything about everything, but we can at least try know each other.
Furthermore I can say from my own life the more judgement you put out there, the more you get. Every time I gossip about someone or say something shitty about someone, I end up spending more time wishing I didn't and regretting it than I did in the actual moment. Conversely, when I chose to extend forgiveness and kindness to people I am apt to dislike, it is actually ME who ends up feeling good. It is a decision we each make moment by moment. I probably deserve tons of ridicule for plenty of poison I've spewed in my own life. But, because it is a decision every moment, I am making the choice to pull my blinders off and see the world in its complete awesomeness. And of course try to be patient with everyone else so I might actually learn something from them!
As anyone who knows me knows, I am a downtown rat. I don't like to play poker very often if I can't walk home when I'm done. This gives me the opportunity to drink if I want, blow off some steam on the way home, not have to wait for my poker playing buddies, etc. I'm also pretty rigid about work things. If I am responsible for working than I will never feel comfortable playing. And thus, over the last few years, I had avoided the Ladies Event and been the dutiful worker bee. However, this year the ladies fell on my off day and after a big debate about the merits of $1,000 I decided to go for it. I didn't sell any action, I just went full steam ahead.
I prepared for my very important day by utilizing my Casa Don Juan groupon.
I arrived for Day 1 just in time and found my table draw pretty nice. I had a hyper-agro girl, two extremely passive gals, couple of cash game players, a luck box, and finally came Team Bodog Jay Tan. Now I love this girl. We had our wake boarding virginity together.
Anyways you don't start with very many chips. You can pretty much play only a few pots early in the game. I hit a crucial double up when I flopped a set against Jay's top pair. She turned two pair so she woulda got it in there anyways probably. The day went pretty good until I called an all in with KK and obv A8 spiked an A and I was down to around 8 BB. But I hit my flips and took down the blinds a few times. And I made Day 2, 29th in chips.
I had a blast! I even had a rail that got in trouble 4 times. I was like OH GEEZ, If I final table this thing it is gonna go CRAY! I was super amped up after bag and tag around 3am and by 4:30am I still hadn't managed to fall asleep. #amateur mistake for sure. So I took a sleeping pill around 5:30am. I don't think that was the right choice for sure. I felt groggy and not great starting Day 2 and I basically donated my stack with 10 4 off to a woman who final tabled the thing.
But, I did manage to get a poker photo.
Yes, one small victory at a time. And I did cash my first WSOP event. It was an awesome experience and even though I was so mad at myself for the subsequent three days, I think I got a bit more confident. I shipped the Golden Nugget tourney I played right after that because it seemed like small ball compared. Even though I made more at the Nugget than cashing the Ladies!
And after that win. It ended where it started...I gave a shot of Tequila just one more try. Yep, it's still gross.
Welp, we are nearly 27 events deep in the WSOP. As always it is going by SO fast. I was re-watching some of my favorite videos so far this year and figured I would post em up and see what you guys think to.
As I expected, my favorite so far is the THE STRADDLE. This is a Series where Kristy gets to just put together whatever she wants. She is so creative and works so well with her camera guy...everything they do is genius.
I personally love the chance to put poker players on blast. Facebook, along with a few other things, has essentially eliminated privacy. Thus, if you've done it...someone tweeted it, snapped a pic, Instagramed or Facebooked it. Looking forward to more of this series from the players who play on and off the felt.
Lynn has always been the best at blowing that bankroll. So she headed over to see what Vanessa Rousso had put together in terms of housing for some of pokers' best gals.
Obviously there are more gems coming out every day, so I'll keep adding and you guys keep letting us know what you love and hate.
I'm heading to the Rio tomorrow for the first of what will be many trips to my summer homeland. It is such an interesting feeling each year, like going to summer camp when you where kid. One can't help but feel a mixture of emotions; excitement at the anticipation of seeing everyone and seeing lives changed, combined with a little nerves at the prospect of forgetting your own life for a few months and hopefully not messing up too bad. Speaking of messing up, I was just prepping to shoot the Welcome to the WSOP 2012 video today and I stumbled across some gems from last year.
Bloopers are always my favorite. Watching these made me miss my team so much! I wonder how many blogs I can have that are themed, I am so grateful to be in this business? But I feel like I am constantly reminding myself how lucky this whole journey has been. It got me thinking how we all keep changing and growing, but some things stay the same. Here is the blooper reel from my first tournament in front of the camera. My voice is literally at least 5 octaves higher than normal.
I want to thank my girls so much for showing me the ropes. Kristy Arnett & Lynn Gilmartin were already best friends and it would have been so easy for them to be caddy to me or at least not helpful. But it was the total opposite. The team at PokerNews is so amazing and I can't wait to spend the summer watching poker history happen before our eyes. This little gem pretty much explains how I feel.
It started out like any other day. And it ended like this:
Well, maybe I should fill in some blanks. Yesterday was the WSOP Media Freeroll. I don't think I played last year because I didn't feel like I was really a part of the media, and well I had just started playing poker about 6 months before. This year, I was all about it! To be honest, I hardly even cared if there were prizes or not. Just poker, drinks and some of my new found best friends. We PN girls decided to show our PokerNews pride but sporting our I <3 PokerNews T-shirts. In hindsight, maybe broadcasting our association with PokerNews wasn't such a great idea.....but you know what they say about hindsight.
My primary concern to start the tournament was who I was going to get to drive my car back to the after party at Insert Coins. Once I found a responsible colleague up to the task, I was able to get in the game. It was a slow beginning for me, both in terms of alcohol consumption and in terms of cards. I took down a couple nice pots with marginal hands. I missed a couple streets of value here and there, but I made up for it in a few other hands. I was probably about average or below when I got moved to a new table. One guy was obviously dominating and luckily for me he was moved after about one rotation.
I made one bluff against Effel. I think he gave me the stink eye today. Because when I made the bluff I hardly realized there was another player all in for less, so I was forced to show with a lil baby rail all there watching. I'm probably just being sensitive, but that is how I am. I got moved again and I probably quadrupled up just in time for my 5th chardonnay to arrive. (drink) I definitely donked off around 1/6 of my stack to Annie Duke. We were in a small blind/big battle where she ended up making a straight on the river. I called her all the way down in an attempted hero call with Jack high. But of course what I read as a bluff, was more like a bluff turned into the nuts. Ooooopppppsss.
Anyways I made my way to the Final Table. But not dissimilar from my last post, where I come into the final table as a chip leader and leave with less than glory, such was my fate. To be honest, I'm not even sure what position I bust exactly. I think seventh maybe? I'm sure some more sober media members may remember. Too bad too because I'm probably the only poker person not to own and Ipad already. But I'm not too mad because I scored some Klipsch headphones for a bounty on @whojedi and some beats by dre headphones for being the last PN person standing. I also scored a blu-ray player and drumroll......comped Chip 'n Dales tickets. So obviously Kristy, Lynn and I will have to make a night of it. That will be another blog.
Basically the rest of the night ends in Mexican food, a dollar store, and me rambling to people I work with. When will I learn: DO NOT GET WASTED WITH YOUR WORK PEERS. I thought it was fine this morning. I actually felt good. But when I saw the face of my fellow PN employees, as well as Rio staff today, I realized I made quite an impression. Not to mention the comments, "wow, you look shocking well today.", or "you look much better than expected. Did you throw up?" For the record: no, I didn't throw up. And really, that was nothing!! You should see when I really blow it out. NO YOU SHOULDN'T. I'm still waiting for images of the final table to emerge. I definitely win the most ridiculously dressed award.
I let it all go. With poker people. And it was one of the funnest times I've had in awhile. So there you go, walk of shame aside, not only do I love poker people on the felt, I love them behind the bar. Thanks for the good times ya'll.
Basically I have brought you all up to speed to the point at which I arrive back in Sin City. This was about a year and a half ago and where my life moves to the felt....sort of. I spent several month prepping movies I was never going to shoot. I also started a talent agency to represent my boyfriend and other fighters in the film business. At the time it seemed like a perfect idea: I had all the connections in the film world and all the fighters' managers were terrible. This too, would take a back seat however once I fell hard for PokerNews. I still represent Heath. So all the time and money that went into starting that agency wasn't a complete waste. But my future was not going to be in the managing of fighting actor types, or even the managing of film sets. To quote Kristy Arnett, my future was, "to be semi-famous on the internet."
I was randomly sifting through Craigslist.org one day. I'm not 100% sure what, but as my thesis has been so far in this blog, I trust my gut and it never leads me too far astray. I saw an ad looking for a production assistant for the World Series of Poker. Coming from a production background I thought I might be able to take my skill set and learn a new trade. I was interested in poker and wiling to start at the bottom if need be to merge into this world as seamlessly as I had film. I interviewed with Matt Parvis, Tinsley and Topper. Topper gave me the thumbs up, but Topper is a lover, so I don't think that impressed. I waited. After a few days though, I got a call and as long as GloBalls didn't reject me...I was in for the WSOP. Sometime mid-week I got the call that GloBalls wasn't repulsed by me. I would start on Monday.
But I had to get through the weekend before that happened. My thought was, 'Sweet, let's party cause it's nose to the grindstone after this.' Some friends from Palm Springs were coming up to visit. And by friends, I mean a DJ (DJ Madd Matt) and some DJ groupie he had picked up on the way up. The whole thing is bit blurry. I have an openness problem. I want to share everything. Yet, there are people in my life who prefer a bit of privacy. I digress. Suffice it to say that the weekend ended on Sunday with me punching the refrigerator in my apartment and breaking my hand.
Here I was about to start this new life in the poker world and I had to start out my day by going to the doctor to see what the damage was. In an attempt to do it cheaply I went to a Doctor friend Heath had from his fighting days. Sadly though, he could not help me except to say, 'yes it is broken.' The break was bad and I had broken it several times before. In fact, I had some sets of screws in there. I needed surgery. But I didn't want to have to call my new boss and say, "Thanks for hiring me. I might have to take a few days off for surgery." I begged the doctor to set it and set me free. She set it.
Next mission was to do a good job at my new job while taking pain killers and typing with only my left hand. I actually just found my notes from the Series last year and was laughing because they looked like the scribbles of a child--they were written with my left hand. I went back to the doc the next week and she said my hand had shifted. It really needed surgery, but it was the last possible degree where she could let it slide if I insisted. I already felt like this job was perfect for me, so I told her to let it slide. My hand is kind of funny now. It sticks out a bit and is super sensitive. It doesn't always work right. I call it my special hand. It gives me character.
Turns out, the poker world LOVES characters.