Tuesday, March 31, 2009

las vegas > burbank

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

During my first night in Las Vegas, I was awoke by the sounds of people screaming. An argument transpired in the room next door. An Asian family. Sounded like three or more people screaming at each other for a few minutes before I heard the door slam and then it stopped.

The people on the other side of me were Bud Ice drinkers. I didn't know that they still manufactured Ice genre beers anymore. They left empties behind. A twelve pack of cans. Some kicked them over and a lone empty sat upside down in front of my door.

The Castle was surprisingly populated. Las Vegas has been feeling the crunch and the different businesses drastically slashed prices for hotels, restaurants, and airfare. The rooms at the castle were less than $40 per night. A sheer bargain. But the cheap prices attracted a lot of tourists with families seeking a good value.

And what can be more gluttonous than an all-day all-you-can-eat buffet? Yes, for $25 you can eat all day at the Excalibur buffet. I dunno who would actually do such a horrendous activity, since the quality of food at the buffets in Las Vegas has also drastically declined.

On Friday night, I attended a cocktail party for Dream Team Poker at Caesar's Palace. Over the last five years, I have been invited to many of these poker industry functions so I know what to expect. However, this time, I was highly disappointed with the lack of flowing booze. No open bar. Boooo. Their finger food wasn't too shabby though and made up for the lack of liquor. I caught up with some old friends while I pitched a few ideas and got pitched in return.

The entire concept of team poker is rather new and plenty of industry figures stopped by to check it out. I had not seen so many influential poker people milling around ins ome time (perhaps last year's November Nine). I think everyone was curious. At the same time, the vultures were circling looking to see if they could steal, borrow, or become a part of the Dream Team Poker concept. And then there were the desperate souls... who were on the verge of losing their job or feared that their positions were in jeopardy. They were on an employment scouting mission.

Yes, it was a time to schmooze and kiss ass. I did not do either. I hung out with some friends and then hit the road.

I bet heavily on the March Madness games all weekend. It had been while since I didn't even think twice about slapping down four figures on a game. Thursday was up and down and I wet 1-1. I woke up scared on Friday and reduced the sizes of my bets. I went 2-1. On Saturday, I stepped up and bet big again. The result? 2-0 by sheer luck.

With less than two minutes to go in the UConn/Missouri game, UConn held a three point lead. The spread was six and that queasy feeling invaded my stomach that I always got when I was about to lose an absurd amount of money on a single basketball game. After a time out, A.J. Price drilled a jump shot. UConn led by 5. Missouri missed a jumper and UConn's Kemba Walker snagged the rebound and Missouri quickly fouled the freshman guard from the Bronx. Walker averaged 9 points a game all year. He had scored 23 points in total after the first three March Madness games... and he equaled that number with a 23 point performance to lead UConn in scoring. Walker calmly hit four free throws down the stretch to put his team up by 9 with 50 seconds left. Matt Lawrence from Missouri dropped a trey to get within six. Missouri fouled and UConn hit two free throws. 78-70 with 41 seconds to go. Missouri missed a three pointer, secured the rebound and missed a layup before finally scoring. 78-72 with 23 seconds to go. Two more successful free increased the lead to 8. Missouri made me sweat the final seconds when Zaire Taylor drilled a three pointer. Are you fuckin' shitting me? 80-75 with 12 seconds to go. Missouri fouled Craig Austrie, who hit two of the biggest free throws in recent sports betting memory for me. 82-75 with seven seconds left. The spread was 6 fuckin' points and Zaire Taylor missed a layup with 0:02 on the clock. The final score? 82-75. UConn miraculously covered on a missed layup. Wow. That was a tremendous swing. Instead of breaking even for the day, I scored a nice chunk of cash.

Sunday? I continued the heater and went 2-0. It seemed so easy. I could not explain why it happened. As soon as I looked up at the Big Boards with the point spreads, I instantly knew who I was going to pick. No intense research and mulling over the stats. I went with my gut because the more research that I did... the more indecisive I became.

Suffice to say, I'm more than pleased with the results. I have not had a score like this... in a very long time. I'm gonna use the winnings for a couple of things including Phish tour and to help supplement the income that I missed out on for taking off a few months to write Project Z.

Dream Team Poker was a lot of fun because I got to play with friends and everyone was having a good time. I bet on basketball every day and I stayed out of the pits. Not one single hand of Pai Gow and I avoided the craps tables. I engaged in plenty of random prop bets. On Saturday, I ate for free... twice. Once at the Bellagio and the other at Caesar's Palace. We had a breakfast meeting at the Bellagio and Shaniac wanted to play Price Is Right for the bill. I picked the closest number and his pick was the farthest off so he had to pay the bill.

Later that night, I ate dinner with Michalski. It was an adventure because the waiter fucked up his meal. He asked for a Cuban sandwich and instead he got a Reuben sandwich. Michalski was so hungry that he ate half of the Reuben sandwich and all of the friends before the waiter checked up on us. Michalski mentioned the mistake and the waiter brought him a fresh Cuban sandwich. He was so stuffed eating both of them that he could not finish his Cuban and asked for a to go box. Part of me thought that he did that on purpose. Since he's a Las Vegas resident, he picked up a couple of angle shooting traits. Some would call it low brow, but others would say that he took advantages of flaws in the system. Anyway, Michalski taught me how to play 1 to 1000 and we played it to determine who paid for the meal. My stars were aligned because I won. Free meal again.

On Sunday morning, Friedman and his wife Jen took me on a hike to Red Rock Canyon. We went up to a point where I had never been before. We climbed up a decent amount and we stopped at a significant height. I took a few pic before we headed back into town for breakfast. That was one of my favorite points of the weekend. Nature always humbles me and I love touching the rocks because I always write better after I do that. I also centered myself while sitting up on the side of the mountain, as the gusting winds whipped around.

As Lao Tzu said, "Empty yourself of everything. Let the mind rest at peace."

Sunday night? More degenerate prop betting, which involved beer/generic vicodin bowling at South Coast. Even though I was crocked, I smoked Michalski int he first two games and he begged me for a buy out. I gave in and lost a few bucks on the last game. Overall, I won $60 and got free bowling out of it.

Monday was sort of a weird day. A couple of meetings were cancelled at the last minute and I had over seven hours to kill before my flight back to LA. I had a sizable amount of cash on me and worried that I'd lose it all. I grabbed a bite to eat and headed to the poker room at Mandalay Bay. I was lucky that I only lost two buy-ins while I played poker for several hours. It could have been a lot worse.

My flight was about 40% empty and I had an entire row to myself. We landed early in Burbank and it was good to be back in SoCal and see Nicky when she pulled up to the curb outside of Bob Hope airport.

This quick Vegas trip? Fun time. Heck, the last two Vegas trips were a ton of fun (including last December). I prefer heading to Vegas for the primary purpose of hanging out with friends than to go there for work.

Anyway, we recorded several new episodes of Tao of Pokerati. Head over to Tao of Poker to listen to the new episodes... Dream Team Poker Podcasts.

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