The WSOP is a big deal, but still dwarfed by the crowds in town for the Canelo/Plant fight, The Rolling Stones concert, and a smattering of conventions.
The Venetian is packed. Some people are standing at tables, others sitting at machines, but most are on the move. The throng doesn’t flow in an orderly current, each person with a different stop, destination or distraction.
A calendar mishap on my part has me behind schedule, I'm late for the start of a $600 tournament here. I have a quick, deliberate stride, focused on the optimal route to my destination. I scan the crowd with every step, making quick note of potential obstacles and calculate appropriate detours in response.
A woman stops suddenly to take a selfie. A couple holding hands take a hard left in front of me toward the blackjack tables. A man drifts slowly askew as he taps on his phone.
I dash, I sidestep, I swivel.
I'm dismayed to find there's already a two hour wait for alternates. I take the opportunity to grab some lunch, having only scarfed down a protein bar on my way out the door.
I get seated and pick up a few small pots in the first level. Then I'm card dead, and don't play a single pot for two levels, whittled away by the escalating blinds.
We get back from a break, late registration closed. I pick up pocket queens but don't get any action. Then I jam pocket sevens into a limper and he calls with AK. Two aces hit the flop, no seven in sight by the river, and I'm done. My shortest day of tournament play yet.
I’m back at Venetian later in the night to meet up with some friends that I regularly play poker with in a home game. They’re here for a 40th birthday celebration, and I join the party at the craps table.
After getting beat up by a flurry of seven outs, the group dwindles down to three of us. We get seated at a new $3/$5 table in the poker room.
Our opponents seem to be there for serious work, salivating at the fish from Indiana playing like they’re in their home game. Hosei puts most of the table on tilt with his sticky play, often hitting the nuts on the river. Slate, the birthday boy, applies the pressure with his unbridled aggression. I’m downing free beers, seemingly distracted by endless conversation, but don’t prove to be an easy mark either.
Several hours in, Hosei finally busts Slate with yet another nut flush. It’s 1:30am, so we call it quits. We rack up our piles of chips as the other players look on with envy and disbelief.
Times someone said nice hand while folding to my bluff: 2