Because I like both the idea and the submissions so far, here's another response to Bad Blood’s "WSOP Fantasy" challenge. Don’t read it if you don’t have time to waste.
Sunday afternoon is morning number three in Vegas. I stumble out of bed. I'm in a bad way. Winning hurts.
But it's a good hurt.
Flashing back to the events which caused the big hurt, it's Friday morning at the Rio and I am nervous as hell. WSOP Event #2. Me. Never played a live tournament in a casino before. This is just not right.
But I'm still damned glad to be here.
I check in, draw my seat assignment and start at Table 22. Good start. Lots of nobodies, most of whom obviously qualified online.
And how about this -- Phil Hellmuth actually showed up on time. I know, because he sat down on my right. Dammit.
At least he wasn’t on my left. Still, not good times.
Let’s get set up. I don’t bring much gear with me. I have my paperweight card protector. My MP3 player is stowed, only to be called upon in times of need. I have a bottle of water. I’m wearing a ridiculous Hawaiian shirt and shorts, so I look exactly like what I am -- dead money. I have my second most egregious pair of Blu Blockers I couldn’t find the oversized pair that makes me look unfortunately somewhat like Louie Anderson doing an Elton John impersonation. Nobody will be looking deep into my soul today. I am ready.
Okay, first hand. J2o. I know how to play that! The blogging contingent on the rail cheers the fearless fold. I think I even got a "You Da Man!".
Hellmuth departed long before he usually arrives. God bless Party Poker. The second hand of the tournament, some middle-aged fat guy in a Party hat goes all-in under the gun. Another middle-aged fat guy next to him in a Poker Stars visor cackles with glee and also pushes. It’s folded around to Phil on the button. He does what only Phil can do, engages in some extreme mental and verbal gymnastics, and finally calls, muttering something about “great laydowns”. UTG flips up pocket 2s. UTG+1 shows AJo. Hellmuth just about breaks the table when he slams down pocket Kings -- what else?. A two comes on the flop, nobody else improves, and Phil goes home in 2199th position. He goes home, that is, after he takes a couple swings at the internet guys and is escorted out by security. Good times.
“I had to do it,” says Guy #1, “it’s good luck to play ducks when you’re seated at Table 22”.
Live poker is so rigged.
I’m sad that I missed my chance to ask Phil why he doesn’t play the REAL top 10 hands in poker, but vow to soldier on.
I make it through to the dinner break with a slightly increased stack. I’m playing extremely tight, and only picked up two decent pots, both from the big blind. One of them was a set of 5s, which got me half of a Full Tilt guy’s stack.
The break is spent eating cheap and tasteless Harrah’s cafeteria food with bloggers. Ideas are bandied about as to how to improve my chances of winning. A plan comes together. There are multiple volunteers for the job of standing in Isabelle Mercier’s line of sight and just staring longingly. Grubby will get a triple order of Wendy’s and enjoy a leisurely dinner as close to Thunder Keller as possible. Bob will change into his legendary sleeveless Hammer shirt and find a spot in Jennifer Harman’s general vicinity. Dr. Pauly will find a way to engage Chris Ferguson in some sort of existential debate before play resumes. I ask Bad Blood to take out Mike Matusow, "Tilt" style. We’ll see about that one. The Blogfather will wander around, asking those still in if they play on Party. Hopefully that will get minds off this tournament and onto thoughts of easy internet money. The list goes on as everyone puts their special talents to use. It’ll be a miracle if any of the remaining pros can concentrate at all.
There’s only one requirement of me. Drop the Hammer.
As play resumes, I'm handed a secret weapon. It's a plain black baseball cap, with the three most powerful words in the English language written in white.
You got it.
BONUS. CODE. IGGY.
The pros should be afraid. Very afraid.
The later sessions are relatively unremarkable. I double up twice and can mostly sit back. I'm pushing hard with AA, KK and the Hammer. I steal the blinds of anyone who gives any hint of weakness, and only get caught with my hand in the cookie jar once. Stupid AQo.
Before you know it, we're down to the final table.
It's interview time.
ESPN has sent the lovely and versatile Dana Jacobson to be the sideline reporter for the early events. She asks me the usual questions about where I'm from, what I do for a living, and how I qualified. We get in a couple sound bites about the Hammer and about the blogoverse, to a roar of approval from the audience.
Jacobson looks over at the rowdy group hooting and hollering along the rail and asks “And is this your crew?”. I grin and shake my head as Human Head shouts over the immortal words:
We’re not a “Crew”, we’re a “Contingent”, dammit!
With a contingent like this, who needs a crew?
Back to the action. I can't remember the last time I was on TV.
The final table, of course, is mostly pros. They have larger stacks than I do. I sit next to John Juanda and just marvel at what a genius he is. I continue the previous strategy and luck my way into a run of really good cards as one-by-one, the big guns go down.
Until it's just me and Juanda. How did *that* happen?
Heads up. Despite my run of cards, I am a 3-1 chip underdog.
The first hand, I get QQ in the BB. My opponent minraises. I tell him, “Min raises make the baby Jesus cry” and fold face up. He shakes his head.
Second hand, I get QQ in the SB. I fold face up. He breaks into uncontrolled laughter.
Third hand, I get the HAMMER. I push, get called and double up when the flop comes 22x.
Several hands later, I’ve worked my way to just over half the chips in play. We're even. Let's gambool.
What do you know, it’s Hammer time again. Push, call by pocket 9s. I hate the pocket nines.
Juanda LOVES the pocket 9s.
Okay, dealer, let’s line up those cards in order. Please. Flop A34, Turn 5, River a meaningless 6. Thank you.
What a game. One of the shortest final tables in history, all because of the awesome power of seven-deuce offsuit.
Did I mention that live poker is rigged?
I’d go on and on about the after party, but the truth is, I don’t remember much of it. Somewhere in there was a hundred person conga line snaking through the Plaza to the strains of “Back in Black” by AC/DC, and double shots done by the whole group in every joint, one by one, all the way down Fremont Street We even made it to the Gold Spike and the Western. The surly patrons of those fine gaming establishments didn’t care much for our actions, if I recall correctly, but what were they going to do about it.
The two dollar craps tables at the fabulous El Cortez were entirely taken over by the Contingent, and large sums of WSOP cash in the form of tips kept the floor staff at bay despite assorted drunken antics.
There were strippers, more booze, and I think even some bingo. Don’t ask me where that came from.
Or how I got home. I just don't remember.
Winning is good. The after-winning is bettter.
I awake to the persistent "beep, beep, beep" of my alarm clock. Yes, it was all just a dream.
No, I won't be playing in WSOP #2, unless I get absurdly lucky in some future qualifying event. I hope to make it home and be around later Sunday night to root on whomever will be representing this confederacy of degenerates at the Rio.
Good luck to all that are playing.