Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A Monday in Las Vegas

On Easter Sunday night, I played in a charity poker tournament on Full Tilt Poker and came in second place. My buddy Easycure ran and set up the tournament to raise money for the American Cancer Society. He got over $1K in donations so it worked out well. Derek and I both made the final table! We had played in almost 100 tournaments together (both live and online) and never once made the final table at the same time, so it was an epic moment. Derek finished in 9th place out of 61 players and I took second. In February, I made the final table at the LA Poker Classic Media event at Commerce Casino and came in third place, so it had been a while since I made a final table. The good part is that the Easter tournament counted towards WPBT-POY points. My performance rocketed me up to 8th place in the WPBT Player of the Year standings. Derek is currently in 12th place out of well over 170+ participants and the poker blogger with the most points at the end off 2006 gets dubbed Player of the Year.

I woke up early yesterday and wrote for several hours, while listening to Dead and Galactic bootlegs. I got the bulk of my work done before Noon, which included finishing up an article of poker players and prop bets. I started the difficult task of answering over 200 emails and fan mail. I would not complete that task until almost 9pm. That took me all day to read through everything and take a few minutes to write people back.

I also spoke to the owner/publisher of Poker Player Newspaper. I've been writing for their online site as well as their print publication which comes out every other week. After writing for Poker Player Newspaper for one year as a features writer, I was finally offered my own column with the topic being online poker. The owner is old school and I had to pay my dues for a year before he gave me the prestigious honor. His roster includes a few poker legends and few hacks as well. I get a small picture added to the top of the column and I also get a two sentence bio on the bottom where I can pimp my poker blog. Here's the bad news... regular columns pay less than features and about half the price of getting the front cover story which I've done three times. Anyway, I have 650 words due every other Friday and I already have my first article complete. He wanted a few more to keep on file just in case I get sick or miss a deadline for some odd reason.

Anyway, I guess you can say I got a promotion. I also write a monthly column in Poker Pro magazine, so that makes two major publications where I have regular columns. Sure it's not the NY Times or Sports Illustrated, but I'll take it. Poker Player Newspaper can be found in poker rooms in various casinos and in other card rooms all over America. Poker Pro is in limited poker rooms but it can be found in newstands and in places like Borders bookstore. So the next time you are in Borders, look for Poker Pro magazine in the sports section and you'll see something I wrote

* * * * *

I wandered across the street to Smith's supermarket to pick up some food for Grubby's apartment. I bought Texas Toast bread (which are super thick slices) to make sandwiches. I also bought a 1/2 pound of Boar's Head Buffalo spicy sliced chicken breast and some Jack cheese. I needed a nail clipper because you can't fly with nail clippers because according to Homeland Security, that's how terrorists can hijack airplanes and fly them into buildings... with a nail clipper. I bought one in LA and had to leave it at Change100's apartment. Anyway, I was using the cool self-checkout line and it went quick. I scan and bag my own items and pay by credit card. I have a Smith's card now which entitles me to savings on certain items. I saved $1.59 during that trip. Weeeeeee.

While I was checking out Grubby called me. It was just past Noon and he got off of work early from the radio station and wanted to know if I wanted to grab lunch. We went to Sunset Station one of the local's casinos here in Henderson. It's about 10 minutes from Grubby's apartment and he treated me to a free buffet. Sunset Station has a newly renovated buffet that resembles Green Valley Ranch's buffet. Grubby is a Platinum member which means he gets to stand in a different line. The normal line was about 30-40 people deep but usually there's only one or two people in the Platinum Club line. Recently Sunset had been running a promotion that people 55+ can get a discounted buffet Monday thru Fridays during April. They also allow these folks to stand in the Platinum Club's line to gain entrance to the buffet. That infuriated Grubby.

"They shouldn't get to stand in my line," he grumbled.

Grubby is a pretty positive person, even in the face of a tremendous losing streak since he moved to Las Vegas. But I understood his frustration. He lost a ton of money in the Station casinos and earned the right to not have to stand in line and wait to eat. He had to share the line with people who were there for the promotion and backed up the line.

We got a table in the non-smoking section and I headed to the buffet stations. I started left to right with the Asian section. I piled a small portion of steamed white rice and General Tso's chicken. Grubby piled some Generals onto his plate in addition to a few chau su bau. Next up was the Italian section and they had gnocchi, which is one of Derek's favorite dishes. It was served in a pesto sauce and I added a few scoops to my plate. I also eyed the meatballs and garlic bread sticks. At the American section I grabbed some roasted rotisserie chicken, rice pilaf, and macaroni & cheese. I skipped the carving station due to the long lines and head over to the International section, there was a Mexican food part. They also had a rare French section with Vichy carrots, coq au vin, and steak poivre. Outside of the Paris Casino, I had not seen too many French dishes at a buffet, especially one off the Strip at a local's casino. I spotted the dessert station at the far end and made a mental note as I went back to me seat and began the first wave of food.

I always eat dessert during my second trip which ensures me that I have room. They had gelato which is something I've started to crave since I worked for two weeks at the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City. They have some of the best gelato in America. Anyway, the gelato selection at Sunset's buffet was limited and I got the chocolate. But they also had spumoni, which I had not seen since I was a kid. My parents would take Derek and I out to eat at Stella D'Oro's restaurant. You might be acquainted with their cookies and breadsticks, but for several decades the Stella D'Oro family also owned a family restaurant in the Bronx about ten minutes from where I grew up. Derek currently lives two blocks from the cookie factory and the building that used to house the restaurant. When you walk to the subway, you can smell the cookies baking on some days. The restaurant closed down in the early 1990s, which was a shame. It had some of the best ravioli I ever had and I loved their desserts. Anyway, I had not seen spumoni in over a decade and Grubby got a few scoops. Spumoni is basically three kinds of gelato in a colorful (green, brown, and pink) array of flavors; chocolate, pistachio, and strawberry. Neopolitan is more common and is the standard chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry.

I also had a few pastries, a cannoli, and a slice of sugar-free chocolate cake which tasted like cardboard. I went back up for round three of the buffet which included some penne with Bolognese sauce, a couple more meatballs, mashed potatoes with turkey gravy, and some Vichy carrots.

After ninety minutes, we were stuffed. I always have to take a huge dump after I kill myself at the buffet. Luckily I waited until we got home before I dropped the kids off at the pool.

* * * * *

I had not spoken to my Mother in weeks, since I left for California-Las Vegas. I called her late on Easter Sunday. She wanted to know where I was... "Las Vegas," I said. "I'll be back in less than two weeks."

That's when I started to worry. I thought I forgot about Mother's Day. I realized it was in May. Anyway, she started describing all the mail that I got which included several packages, mostly books that PR firms send me to review on my blogs which I rarely do. Those books inspire me and piss me off in the same instance. Most of them are written by hacks (with the exception of the Steve Rosenbloom book... he's a legit sportswriter) and I know I can and already have written better books. When will I get my shot? I also got a couple of checks from magazines that I write for in addition to a ordinary lot of junk mail, a couple editions of high school and college alumni magazines, and credit card applications.

In the last two days, I've had lengthy phone conversations with BG, Molly, Iggy, and Poker Prof. I rarely spend more than an hour a day on my cell, but if you add up all those calls it was a good 8+ hours that I spent jacking up my phone bill and getting brain cancer. If you add up the business calls I made on Monday morning and this morning, you can add another 2 hours to that. Wow, 10 hours on the phone since Monday morning. I haven't done that since I worked on Wall Street.

That's it for now. I have more writing to do...

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