It’s just after 9am in Vegas. I woke up two and half hours ago and haven’t been able to go back to sleep. Four weeks into a 6.5 week stay, there are too many faces, names, and win/loss records to keep in my head. When I shudder awake from a dream of dismembering the corpse of a very nice and dedicated poker player, I know it’s time to stay awake, the eventual fatigue be damned. I mentioned I have many stories to tell. Right now, though, the outline in my head is a bit blurry. Still, there are things in my head that want out.


“Motherfucking loser,” he muttered through a double vodka and thick undetermined accent. This guy is short, swarthy, likely in his early 40s, and a much-too-familiar face around the Amazon Ballroom.

“Floor!” The dealer, a tight-rule white boy, was having none of the fuck-talk. There are rules around here and saying fuck happens to be in violation of one, unless you’re playing in a cash game, in which case it’s okay to say cocksucking motherfucking motherfucker. However, in tournaments, saying fuck will get you ten minutes of stolen blinds and rail-steam.

Because the guy wouldn’t shut up otherwise, I was happy to see him on the rail for ten minutes. I wasn’t in the mood to hear him coffeehouse with the Asian guy at the other end of the table.

There are tons of these guys around the room. Some are fun, like the afro-topped black man who shoves online poker hats on his head and drinks brandy from a snifter. One night he told me, “If you don’t like a song, don’t listen to it.” The advice came in response to absolutely nothing I’d said. He just said it, and, at the time, I took it as some of the most sage wisdom I’d heard in days.

There’s the hillbilly. He looks to have no teeth. He has a face that would send Phillip-Morris’ stock tumbling. He wears free t-shirts and a hat that looks like it was fashioned by an old lady in Appalachia. He always looks angry, but that could be a by-product of his rtp online . He’s always here, but I’ve never seen him in a game.

There are lots of those people. Some poker players describe them as parasites. They feed on the misery that bubbles up underneath the bracelet-winning celebrations and million-dollar wins. They are sports-bettors, tax-shelters, underground businessmen who know how much money is in the room and know they can get a piece if they hustle just right.

Fuck-man is always saying fuck. It’s his adjective, his verb, his noun. He’s in games as often as he can get in. He’s a baby whale, seeming to always have money to blow, but not enough to get him in the real games. He’s the type of guy that is always allowed to buy into $500-max games for $1,500. He is action animated.

When he got back to the table, he busted out in fifteen minutes and asked the table if anyone had ever spent any time in the Clark County jail. He was drunk and ready to drive.

In the weeks since I first ran into fuck-man, I’ve taken to viewing him as the icon that symbolizes the part of the World Series of Poker that you don’t see in Harrah’s commercials.

Two nights ago, as I walked down an empty corridor, I watched the guy steal two things from a vacant vendor booth. I looked for security, but by the time I found a guard, the guy had bagged his booty and made tracks for the door, a common petty thief with a penchant for the word fuck.

Thievery here comes in many forms. Last night, a friend’s laptop was stolen. That and fuck-man’s early-morning heist are the most blatant form of crime. The hustlers, con men, and impersonators work out of radar’s reach. By the time you realize who they are, they are gone, mere whispers of your future embarassment. I’ve ot yet fallen victim, but I’m always wary of the people I meet.

That is a long way of saying, there is a less-than-quiet desperation at the WSOP that you won’t see in a segment of The Nuts on ESPN. There are people for whom you would refuse to open your front door in the middle of the day. There are people you would let borrow your car–only later to find that borrow meant steal and you had police reports to fill out.

I’m fortunate that I’ve found many good and sane peoople here that help me stay level-headed. I had a wonderful conversation last night with the wife of a poker pro who personifies what makes up a good person. Still, there is a sickness here. There has been a lot of talk about how Harrah’s and ESPN have turned a one-time gamblers’ convention into a corporate, homogengized money machine. A lot of that talk is true.

But what you won’t see unless you’re here for more than a couple of days is that this giant corporate machine is still more wild west than it is new big business.

I am no victim, yet. Here’s to hoping I make it through the next three weeks with money in my pocket, a firm grasp on my morality, and the ability to sleep for more than a few hours without waking up to nightmares.

Because It’s How You Roll

Because you know if you were in little Peyton’s shoes, you’d want people to help you.

Because you know if you won the WSOP Main Event, you’d make sure some of your riches went to help someone like Peyton.

Because that’s just what Bobby Bracelet would do, and who doesn’t want to roll like him?

Get out your poker bankrolls again and pull off a few bills. We’ve got some outstanding new additions to the ForPeyton auction and you only have a few days left to bid!

As mentioned a few posts below, it’s an invitation for two to the Full Tilt Poker WSOP Gala on the night of July 26th in Vegas. It’s the kind of poker party you don’t want to miss.

And if you’re in Vegas for that, might as well bid on what might be the most entertaining offering, an invitation for two to Howard Lederer’s 4th annual World Series of Beer and Karaoke Championships. It’s on July 27th.

Of course, the East Coast is not left out. Poker Pro Steve Zolotow wants to take you to his favorite New York restaurant for dinner and a chat about poker strategy. If you have an opportunity to win this auction, don’t pass it up!

Robert Mizrachi doesn’t want you to have to go anywhere for his offering. It’s a 2-hour poker lesson from anywhere. All you need is a phone line. It’s the kind of lesson that will likely pay itself back pretty quickly at the poker tables.

Annie Duke has two offerings for the auction. First, it’s an autographed hardcopy of her book and a copy of her DVD. Second, it’s a signed paperback copy of her book and two of her DVDs.

You pretty much either love the Duke Blue Devils or hate them with a passion that burns deep inside your soul. I’m part of the latter. Either way, getting your hands on a Duke hat autographed by Mike Kryskewiksi Chechefski Krewioasdfhklhuyrewoioski Coach K would be quite a coup.

There’s another CardPlayer package up for bid that now includes a one-year subscription to the magazine plus a Phil Hellmuth DVD, a Poker for Dummies DVD and a CardPlayer mousepad.

Finally, Phil Hellmuth has another stellar offering including Phil’s DVD, a poker book, two CardPlayer T-shirts and a one-year subscription to the magazine.