I flew into Vegas the day before the first WSOP event to get a jump on registration. Hertz had a Hyundai Affront sitting in my space but I begged for an upgrade and they switched it for a silver Buick Coronary. I drove over to the Rio, new home of the World Series since Harrah's bought the rights to the name, and got about 10 steps into the convention center when I ran into the back of the registration line. There were two lines: a short one to get your WSOP ID card and a very, very long one to sign up for the events. Avi "Two Cokes" Freedman had been holding a place in the short line for me and had just about reached the front when I got there. ID card in hand, I walked over to the long line. What a zoo! It was barely moving and looked to be several hours long so I took a friend up on his offer to take my card and money and sign me up for the first event.
Full Tilt had a sweet suite right next to the tournament room so I checked it out. Because of the uncertain legal climate around online poker, it was actually the "FullTiltPoker.Net" suite. Somehow the ".net" suffix had come to mean a play-money site, which was OK to advertise without fear of the Justice Department sending in a SWAT team. They gave me a cool baseball jersey to wear that had "Quiet Lion" on the back along with my number, 5, which I figured meant I was the fifth best player in the world.
I found Perry "The Baiter" Friedman and bought him dinner at the Las Vegas Hilton steakhouse in return for him giving me tips on winning a bracelet, which would actually be my second since I held the 2004 bracelet in croquet. He suggested I win all the pots. I just had a couple Grey Goose martinis in honor of my twin, David Grey.
Event #2: $1500 No-Limit Hold 'Em
Exceeding all expectations, the first event (called event #2 because event #1 was only for casino employees) sold out late the night before at 2305 players: 2200 starters with 11 players at 200 tables; 100 alternates, and I guessed five VIPs who juiced the tournament staff to get in after it was sold out. I wore my nifty Full Tilt Quiet Lion baseball jersey and headed for my table assignment at table 154. When I got there the dealer asked if I had looked at the list of redraws, which was posted on the wall outside the tournament room. Apparently an error had caused 200 people to be assigned to table 154 and they had to redraw. So I went out to fight my way through the crowd of people looking at that list and discovered I was now at table 159.
I settled into table 159, seat five, and happily didn't recognize anyone there. There was a brouhaha at the next table because Todd Brunson and Doyle Brunson were seated next to each other. I recalled that at the World Poker Tour event in the Bahamas they had seated the tables alphabetically and wondered if they had done the unthinkable here and repeated that fiasco. I asked everyone at the table to raise his hand if his last name didn't begin with B. No hands went up. In fact, we were all B-R.
I wasn't going to make a fuss since there were no top players at my table but I smiled and wondered what the Nguyen table was like. It boggled my mind that anyone, at any level of management, could possibly think it was OK to seat people alphabetically rather than by a random draw no matter what computer screw-up they were claiming. The Brunsons made enough noise that they got switched, along with all the husband-wife, father-son, and brother pairs.
As the tournament began, we also learned that they had now decided to make this a three-day event rather than a two-day one. They really didn't see anything wrong with making significant changes in the schedule after people had come from all over the world at great expense and plunked down $1500 to play in this thing. Well, at least we got vouchers for $10 off the buffet.
At any rate, we finally started. I played a few small pots and then I limped under the gun for a quarter with pocket Sixes and it got all the way around to the button in seat two, who made it 100. I called and it came Eight-Seven-Four with two Spades. I checked and he bet 200. I figured he had an overpair or Ace-King and I called. The turn was the Queen of Spades. He really looked like he didn't like the Spade and I had the Six of Spades. He put his last 425 in. I figured he had a big pair with no Spade, giving me 14 outs, or Ace-King with a Spade, in which case I had the best hand. I called and he showed two Aces, no Spade. My Flush came on the river and I knocked him out, giving me over 2000.
Next, the loose player on my right raised in late position and I found pocket Kings two off the button. I decided to play it conservatively and move in but the button woke up with Aces and called. I didn't improve and was down to 475. I saw a few cheap flops but didn't connect and was down to 250 at the break.
With the blinds up to 50-100, I didn't have much room to maneuver and when seat one limped on my big blind and seat four completed, I put my last 150 in with King-Jack offsuit. The limper called with King-Queen and I was out of the contest around 1700th.
Dinner was room service at the Hilton with a bottle of Mondavi Cabernet, sipped out on the terrace overlooking the Strip. The evening air was perfect skin temperature. I'd have another chance tomorrow.