Thursday July 2 – Arriving in Vegas
I remember clearly the first time I watched the WSOP on TV. It was halfway through 2006 and some random $1000 side event was being televised. I remember thinking how crazy it would be to fork out $1000 to play a single tournament. Given my entire bankroll totalled only about $500 at that point, my reservations I think were quite understandable. I mean, what if you lost an all-in on the first hand? Crazy!
Yet, here I was, three years later, about to embark on my first trip to Vegas and to the WSOP. As you can imagine, even the thought of this was quite the thrill for me. As players move up in the poker world, rising up in stakes or winning MTT after MTT, there’s a tendency I think to become “too cool” for everything and everyone in the poker world. You begin to realise that Negreanu isn’t actually that good at NLHE, that Doyle only beat a field of 20-odd people, that Sklansky probably couldn’t beat 1/2 online. But going to the WSOP, it made me feel like a (poker) kid again. I mean, I don’t care how bad Negreanu is anymore, I’m going to see him live in action! And so what if Hellmuth is loony? I might be on his table! And maybe, just maybe, I’ll even get on ESPN and be on TV back home and be able to show all my friends! Sick! What’s not to love?
And so, with a packed bag and a mind full of anticipation, I met up with Fraser, Pete and Anna at Sydney Airport. Our flight to LA was going to be about 13 hours and our flight to Las Vegas a further one hour. Rosie and Julian were going to meet us there since they were going to New York afterwards and had booked their own flights.
The flight to LA was pretty smooth. I watched three of the four films on offer (Confessions of a Shopaholic, 17 Again and Duplicity, though I didn’t have a clue what was happening in the last one since my fatiguing mind had no chance of following a film with a fragmented timeline!) and busied myself by doing crosswords and reading Bluff Magazine. I bet Fraser that I could finish the crossword in the in-flight Magazine within an hour and miserably failed. Heck, I couldn’t understand half the clues let alone conjure up the correct answer!
When we finally arrived at LAX I gave a big speech to everyone about how we should hurry and get through to the domestic terminal ASAP. After nearly missing my flight to Miami on route to the Bahamas in January, and having had a mad panic while doing so, I had no intention of repeating the experience. So I made the rules clear to everyone - no loitering, no separating, and no donating to those Red Cross people outside! And boy did it work. We were through immigration, customs, baggage and security within an hour and had over an hour to go before our flight to Vegas left! Awesome! But then…we got United (verb: to have something go wrong with or on your United flight).
Our flight was cancelled! Some mechanical problem had forced the Vegas to LA flight to turn back mid-air and we were placed on a different flight three hours later. Only problem? That flight was already delayed a further five hours… jeez, how bad do I run?! So now not only did my rush through US immigration look retarded, but we had to find something to do for the next 8 hours! Lameee…
Our first port of call was of course McDonalds. There Pete was quite puzzled when he found out that he was not allowed to order a meal containing a single cheeseburger. Rather, he was told, he had to order the double cheeseburger meal, a proposition that he found equally puzzling. You see, in Australia, a double cheeseburger is a burger containing two patties of meat and two slices of cheese. But not so at LAX! There, a double cheeseburger meal consists of – get this – TWO cheeseburgers. So for five minutes Pete is sitting there debating the merits of getting a double cheeseburger meal and, having finally decided that he can’t finish off two whole cheeseburgers, decides to order the Big Mac meal instead. This of course is notwithstanding the fact that a Big Mac is about the size of two cheeseburgers… Awesome.
For the remainder of the time we slept, ate, listened to our iPods and talked about what we could be doing in Vegas at that very moment were it not for the fact that we got United. I remember ringing Rosie and Julian who were already there to tell them about our terrible plight. They were exhausted and completely unsympathetic. I resolved to poison them.
Eventually, our flight finally arrived and we all clambered onboard, thankful that we were finally on our way. In preparation for Vegas we had re-watched 21 and in that movie there’s this scene where they arrive at night and the lights of the Strip come brilliantly into view. We’d always thought how sick it’d be to arrive like that and mourned the fact that we were arriving during the day. Well, I guess in the end some good did come out of that delay because by the time we arrived it was completely dark and we got to see Vegas for the first time lit up in all its glory! The airport is actually ridiculously close to the Strip so during our descent we were able to pick out all the hotels we recognised. Simply awesome!
Here’s a video of us in our taxi as we drive into Vegas proper. It was a completely amazing sight and a truly surreal feeling. One moment you’re driving along your average, run-of-the-mill highway; the next you’re being confronted by the gargantuan lights of Mandalay Bay, THEHotel, Luxor, and eventually, by the rest of the Strip itself.
After checking into our rooms at the Bellagio, Fraser, Pete and I went downstairs in search of food (the others were too tired to join us). It was at this point that we were introduced to Bellagio’s commendable policy of simplicity in relation to its restaurant-naming. We were after a snack, so where better to go but “Snacks”? I mean, I couldn’t have named it better myself! Fraser and I got the Philly Cheese Steak while Pete got the Buffalo Chicken Wings. The latter were to be a favourite with Pete and myself for the remainder of the trip (much to the disgust of everyone else)!
After that we toured the casino briefly before heading to bed. And so ended Day 1 of my Epic Vegas Trip! To finish, here’s a random video I took of the Bellagio lobby. Enjoy.
(PS Anyone know how to embed these on Leggo???)