Today is one of the saddest days of the year... because it represents the end of my freedom and the beginning of my seven week stint in Las Vegas. My assignment to cover the WSOP might as well be prison sentence of hard labor, bad food, and having to sit around and listen to everyone bitch and moan.
In some ways, I am the most prepared this year than in previous years. This will be my fourth summer that I sacrificed to cover the largest poker tournament on the planet. I'm actually brining less clothes than last year but I'm taking along a portable printer this year.
In the last two years, I went into the WSOP totally burned out on poker. I actually completed a seven month hiatus (that only included one two-week assignment in Australia) so I'm ready to jump back into the fight.
I looked back at 2005, and I had to live at a place called the Budget Suites that I nicknamed The Redneck Riviera. Talk about some sketchy people living there. I guess that was my first glimpse of the underbelly of Las Vegas that most people don't get to see when all they do is stay on the Strip. They have no idea that most of Las Vegas is inhabited with the lowest forms of life...junkies, tweakers, pimps, hookers, hustlers, and other assorted criminals. But heck, it was free and ended up becoming an integral part of my moving to Las Vegas and coming of age in the poker industry story.
In 2006, I fled the rough and tumble Tropicana Avenue and headed to the swanky hills of Henderson. I moved in with my buddy Grubby who lived in a gated condo at the foothills of Anthem. When I moved in, there was ton of construction leading up and down Eastern Avenue. By the time I left, most of the empty lots had been filled in. Ironically, most of those storefronts are half-full. Or half-empty?
I really enjoyed living in Henderson because we were so far away from the Strip that at times you actually forgot that you were in Las Vegas. If we wanted a casino environment, all we had to do was drive less than five minutes to Green Valley Ranch, an upscale locals casino with inexpensive food options like a 24 hour cafe and a 24 hour Fatburger.
Grubby was a great roommate in the sense that he was a degenerate gambler and rarely around. The flip side to that was he had to keep his living expenses down so he could allocate whatever extra money towards the slot machines. That meant... no cable TV and using the minimal amount of electricity. It would not be uncommon to find us sitting in the dark and playing online poker. The only downside of the Henderson condo was that I couldn't smoke indoors and had to settle on firing up on the porch.
Since I worked for PokerStars in 2006 during the two-week main event, they put me up at Treasure Island which was a five minute drive to the Rio. Although I had to live in a hotel for two weeks (something I'm used to doing), that location allowed me to cut down on my commuting by at least an hour a day - which meant that I got three hours of sleep instead of two.
In 2007, I went looking for a place closer to the Rio Casino where I ended up spending 100-120 hours a week. Nicky and I hired a service and they found us a gated and furnished apartment less than five minutes away. They pretty much jacked up the prices at Del Bocca Vista but since it was so close, I sucked it up and paid the hefty price. I really didn't like the apartment... but we we didn't spend too much time there. The worst part? Our building was all the way in the back of the complex and you had to drive over like forty-five speed bumps just to get out of the complex. It was super annoying. But heck, I could go door-to-door in about ten minutes.
This year, we're back to the burbs. I let Nicky handle housing this year and we ended up getting a free house in Summerlin courtesy of the company that she will be working for this summer. She worked out free rent as part of her compensation package and I got to sponge off her. Lucky for us, we'll be living with a married couple (Jen Leo and Schecky) who also happen to be two close friends. Two couples in one big house at the end of a cul de sac... and we have a pool... and we have a Whole Foods around the corner.
So after three WSOPs, I finally got to live in a big house in the burbs. I'm not looking forward to the commute since traffic is awful in Las Vegas. I also have to rent a car, but I found a seven week rental for under $1K. Hey, I'm writing it off anyway as a business expense (in addition to gas which is just a shade under $4). The only thing that sucks is the fact that I have to curtail my late night drinking since I have to drive home every night.
But I'll be close to Red Rock Canyon which is my favorite part about Las Vegas. I hope to be able to drive out there three or four times a week to relax and think and meditate. I don't necessarily write better when I'm calm and serene... but I definitely think better in those optimal circumstances.
We spent all of yesterday packing up our shit so we can leave first thing in the morning. I'm brining my backpack and a garment bag. That's it for clothes. Nicky's "shoe bag" (essentially a suitcase filled with shoes and other footwear) is bigger than my backpack.
We survived a great BBQ at Nicky's parents house. Her dad makes great burgers. I took a cool pic of their cat...
Nicky's sister Mandy finished work on a couple of reality shows and she spilled the dirt on a couple of TV's most annoying stars. She had a couple of really good stories and I wish that Nicky would let me write about some of them. But that's a no fly zone.
After the BBQ, we returned home and relaxed and watched the rest of the Top Chef marathon on Bravo. I never get into reality shows, but I got sucked into that one. Even our gay waiter at this Thai food place we went to on Friday with Showcase was into Top Chef. He said that's all anyone at his restaurant talks about. We also found out that Antonia's restaurant, Foxtail, is located about ten minutes away in WeHo.
Time to answer some email before Nicky wakes up and we go get breakfast and drop off our keys to the housesitter. And then it's time to drive off into... hell.