I bought in for the WPT Championship at the Bellagio which automatically got me an entry in the WPT Invitational back in beautiful downtown Commerce. There was a snazzy party the night before hosted by UltimateBet and All In magazine at the Spider Club in Hollywood. I crashed and had a couple comped martinis made with moderately priced vodka. I was hoping to see Emily Procter there but she didn't show and since other than poker I didn't watch much TV besides old seasons of West Wing and The Sopranos I didn't recognize anyone else.
The day of the event I pulled up to valet parking at the casino, having paid a ridiculous $143/night for the Wyndham Commerce down the street, nonrefundable. My timing was excellent because there was Shana Hiatt posing for photographers in her little red dress on the red carpet they had out for the celebrity players. I waited until she was done and then tried to enter but the red carpet was only for real celebrities and I had to go around back to get a plastic wristband letting the guards know I was OK to mingle. None of the A-list celebrity poker players—Ben Affleck, Tobey Maguire, and Matt Damon leading the list—made it for the event and they went well through the B and C lists into the D list, which I may have qualified for myself having appeared as a guest on Oprah! some years ago.
Like last year, they threw a nice cocktail party for us at noon before the event. I had some yummy sushi and chicken satays but stuck with water to keep my brain ticking for the tournament. I still didn't recognize anyone other than poker players. There were 238 players competing for the $200,000 prize pool. Soon it was starting time and I drew table six, seat 10. It was a pretty tough table: "Action" Dan Harrington had seat one; Eric Weiner, with whom I had played at a big Bellagio tournament, had seat four; Joe "The Elegance" Beevers had seat five; and Bellagio tournament director Jack McClelland had seat six. The rest must have been celebrities but I didn't have Shortstack around to identify them. We started with 10,000 in chips and blinds of 50/100. I had the small blind for the second hand and seat two made a small raise under the gun to 200. Seat three, a writer for the Los Angeles Times, called, as did two others. I found pocket Kings and made a hefty pot-sized raise to 1200. Seat two and the writer called. The flop came Jack high and I bet out 3000 into the 4000 pot. The writer called. I figured he had something like Ace-Jack. The turn was harmless so I put in the rest of my chips. He called but I still thought I had the best hand until he turned over pocket Jacks. My miracle didn't come on the river and I was first out.
I may have subconsciously realized that in this event the first one out gets not only a $1500 admission to the World Poker Tour Boot Camp but also an interview with Shana Hiatt. Shana was concerned because I busted out before she had time to change out of her little red dress but producer Steve Lipscomb told her to go ahead and do me in the dress.
Einstein once explained his theory of relativity by saying that when you were sitting on a hot stove, a minute seemed like an hour, and when you were sitting with a pretty girl, an hour seemed like a minute. I think the interview lasted thirty seconds but it was over almost before it started, leaving only the memory of those big brown eyes softly inviting me into her world. She seemed reluctant to end it and I think there were some definite sparks there so I gave her a quick wink and waved goodbye with my left hand, the one with the wedding ring on it. I didn't begrudge her interest in me but she had to know I was a one-woman lion.
I called Shortstack and told her the story, then got ready to pack up for the next stop on this busy California tour: San Diego.