This is my room at the W in Seoul.
This doesn't even include the super-sweet open bathroom set-up, which is just to my left in this photo. While I was sitting in the egg chair reading the newspaper yesterday morning, I noticed a strange case on the ground.
There was a sign affixed to the wall above it.
Intrigued, I picked up the case to see i I could learn how to save my life in the event of an emergency that required me to rappel down the side of the building like Bruce Willis in Die Hard.
Hmm. Does not compute.
Friday, September 26, 2008
This is my room at the W in Seoul.
* In New York City, CK and I took cabs fairly often. This is what happens when you date someone who doesn't believe in public transportation and hates walking. I'm a big proponent of buckling up, but invariably we'd encounter a cab in which the seat belts were broken, prompting me to remark that Murphy's Law dictates that we'd get into an accident and that would be the end for Our Hero. Imagine my horror when I discovered that the cabs in Macau do not come equipped with seat belts.
I'm pleased to report that cabs in Seoul all have seat belts. That work.
* It's early autumn here, and it's made me realize that I miss having seasons that aren't mild, hot and furnace. This was something I went through in Los Angeles also. Autumn makes me think of falling leaves, and cider donuts, and football played in sweatshirts on cool days. None of those things exist in Las Vegas.
* We're staying in the lap of luxury here in Seoul - the W Hotel, Walker-Hill. It's odd that in China, where the dollar should go further, we stayed in a mildew-filled concrete death trap but in Seoul, where things are much more Western and expensive, I'm sleeping in a room that is wasted on me. Well, not so much "wasted on me" as "wasted for having nobody to share it with".
* Last night C4 and I hit the town. She thought we were supposed to meet ElkY and a few other of the young pros at "Club A", but the doorman at the W had no idea what that was and couldn't find it on the internet. He directed us instead to Club Answer, which was NOT the "hottest club in Korea". It was the deadest club in Korea. We turned around and headed up the street to a club we passed called Circle which was, all in all, a decent mix of local and some foreigners, all grooving to "high class hip-hop", whatever that means. It was there that I saw my first G.I. and was reminded of two things: (1) the Americans have had a substantial military presence here for almost sixty years; and (2) I am not the first member of my family to have been to Seoul.
* My phone doesn't work here. It worked fine in Macau but in the most "wired" city in the world, I have no service. Drunken texts from the Bash will be missed.
* No craps here. What am I supposed to do on breaks?
Monday, September 22, 2008
The WCOOP insanity ended last night. It was a great gig and the hours were on par with what I've come to expect from poker. The issue was the hours themselves -- working every night for a week and half from 8pm til 4am Pacific, right after coming home from 15 time zones away. As I told Otis yesterday, I was definitely grateful for the opportunity but the hours were so weird that at any given moment I hardly knew what time it was, never mind the day.
[Speaking of weird time issues -- what the FUCK is up with football being at 10am on Sundays? I didn't have a television when I lived in Santa Monica back in 2003 so that little annoyance escaped my attention. Sundays were made for sleeping until 11am, having sex and then eating a noon brunch. The football is supposed to come AFTER that, not to require an alarm clock to make sure I'm conscious by the time it starts.]
Now I have two days of blissful relaxation, my first since August 27, before heading off to Seoul. Seoul has a reputation of being a very insular place and completely distrustful of foreigners -- the complete opposite of Macau, whose economy couldn't exist without tourists. It's supposed to be difficult to navigate around Seoul without the benefit of Korean language skills but that just sounds like a challenge to me.
I have no doubt that the trip will be fun, it's just disappointing that it means I have to miss AlCantHang's Bash for the first time in four years. There's nothing remarkable about Phoenixville, PA. What makes Bash-weekend remarkable is the crew of people who choose to spend their weekend in a place as umremarkable as Phoenixville.
Not much else to say right now. I basically haven't left the house in over a week, except to run down to the Venetian book yesterday to catch the Eagles game with CK and where I noticed my J-E-T-S are +375 on the moneyline for tonight. That seemed like a good value, so I made an imaginary $20 bet (I just can't bet on the Jets) before we left. Favre better show up -- I pulled him off my fantasy bench for the first time this season.
Plus I have an imaginary $75 to collect when he leads the team to victory.
Monday, September 15, 2008
A few random tidbits from Macau:
* One of the Macanese women hired to give players massages during the APT acted very strangely around me. She was a tiny little wisp of a thing named Analuz who turned into a giggling chatterbox whenever I walked by, staring intently at me. The last day of the APT, I finally figured out what the deal was -- she was obsessed with my blue eyes.
* Thirteen years ago, I saw a Thai woman do all sorts of tricks with her snatch during a visit to Bangkok. She smoked a cigar with it, she blew out birthday candles, she used chopsticks... it was perverse and fascinating all at once. I must have grown a little since then, because I had no desire to go to the "ping pong show" that several members of the PokerNews crew were dying to see.
* Comfort is relative. After nine days of sleeping on a rock for a bed at the Taipa Square Hotel, coming home and collapsing into the bed in my temporary Las Vegas home (which neither CK nor I like very much) felt like falling into a woman's vagina. It was soooooo niiiiiice.
* One night of my last nights in Macau, I did a solo trip to a "sauna". That's probably worth a whole post on its own. (Note: I did not get a "sexy massage".)
* Venetian Macau is billed as the largest casino in the world, and let me tell you, that understates things a smidge. The caisno is an unmissable monolith in the center of Cotai that is filled with degenerate Chinese gamblers and degenerate Asian hookers at all hours of the day. No wonder Macau surpassed Las Vegas in gambling revenue last year. The weird thing is, apart from the over-abundance of baccarat tables, it feels quite a bit like Venetian Las Vegas, right down to the Canal Shoppes and that Venetian "smell".
* A few members of the crew wanted to learn craps, so I picked up this handy pamphlet:
Clears it right up, doesn't it?
* My trip home was a total debacle. I arrived at the ferry pier in Macau three hours prior to my 11:45am flight out of Hong Kong, hoping to grab a 9am ferry for the one-hour ferry ride directly to the airport. Yet the ferry company wouldn't check me in for my flight and sell me a ticket to the airport because the ferry would only arrive at the airport pier one hour before my flight. They claimed that their rules required me to arrive at the airport two hours early, which meant I would have had to be on the first ferry of the day, at 8:30am. I tried to argue the logic of this with the counter-person ("One hour is plenty of time to get to the gate"; "It's not your issue if I miss my flight, it's mine"; "I have no bags to check"; "Are you really that retarded? You're refusing to sell me a ticket?"; "Sell me a fucking ticket right now.") but nothing prevailed. I was finally forced to take a 9:30am ferry to downtown Hong Kong, clear customs, and then take a 30-minute taxi ride from there to the airport. By the time I got to the airport, check-in for my flight had been closed for fifteen minutes.
* Overall, it was a great trip but I'm glad to be home. Next up is Seoul from September 24-29. I'll expect lots of drunken, rambling texts from people at the Bash. Don't let me down.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
For what price would you sell your privacy and anonymity?
I've spent the last couple of nights covering the WCOOP for PokerStars. I'm always amazed by the number of railbirds that professional poker players attract when they play online. These are people who have nothing better to do than ask annoying, idiotic questions and play the role of "fanboy" to a T. As Johnny Chan told me during the WSOP, these people help pay the bills of the pros, so a certain amount of cordiality from the pros makes business sense. Yet still...
One pro for whom this "online railbird" phenomenon particularly struck me as an issue was Chris Moneymaker, who made a deep run in Event #16, $215 Pot-Limit Omaha (one rebuy). Here's a guy who got lucky at just the right moment. I know everyone remembers the sick bluff he made against Sammy Farha heads-up at the final table of the Main Event in 2003, suggesting that he had some poker skill, but how many remember the river 2-outer he pulled to even make it to the final table?
Yes, yes, you have to get lucky to win a big-field tournament. I get that. But Moneymaker's track record since 2003 speaks for itself. He's just an average guy who got lucky at the right time. Really lucky. Now add to that fact that, with his Hollywood name and fairy tale $39-to-$2,500,000 story, he's basically treated as the Messiah that ushered in the "golden age" of poker. Christ, they even call it the "Moneymaker Effect". What does that do to a man's ego? His sense of who he is? Especially when he was just an average guy beforehand, and has reverted to being just an average guy afterwards.
Ok, he wins the Main Event and gets a sweet endorsement deal from PokerStars. Pretty cool. But his anonymity and privacy, at least in the poker community, are completely shot. Railbirds heckle him mercilessly for not being a world-class professional while at the same time other railbirds are asking him what he had for breakfast (then picking through his shit to confirm his answer).
The price tag for all of this "glory"? $2.5 million and whatever endorsement deal PokerStars signed him to after he won (guaranteed not nearly as lucrative as deals that were signed in 2005 and 2006, at the height of the poker frenzy). Meanwhile, he'll never be just an average guy again.
Is it worth it?
Monday, September 08, 2008
* I suck at fantasy football, apparently. This is my first year playing. In Week 1, two of my three receivers, my two running backs and my tight end combined for 4 catches, 195 total yards and 0 touchdowns. Barring a miracle from Greg Jennings Monday night and a disaster by the Denver offense, I will have been soundly trounced by my opponent.
* Predicting the length of a Day 2 in a live tournament is pretty simple. The formula is: [(Total number of entrants) * (starting stack) / (number of players at final table) / 45] This will produce a number that is equal to the big blind of the level in which the final table will be set. Example from the APPT Macau High Rollers Event:
61 entrants * 20,000 starting stack / 9-handed final table / 45 = 3,012. Round that down to 3,000, which is Level 13 -- 1,500 / 3,000 / 500. We currently have thirty minutes left in Level 12, and ten players remain.
* I don't mind 16 days on the road, but spending 14 of them in one place gets a bit boring.
* This is my twelfth straight day of work. Tomorrow will make Day 13. I will spend Wednesday traveling from Macau back to Las Vegas, and then work another 11 straight days upon my return. That's the glamorous life in the poker media.
* I have travel stories. They will make it up here. I wish I knew when.
Thursday, September 04, 2008
Hard to believe I've been here for a week and a half already. The days fly by.
Right now we're on the second leg of this three-leg tour. The first leg, the Asian Poker Tour, ended with 20-year-old Yevgenniy Timoshenko taking down the top prize of $500,000. For the APT, we were based out of the Rio hotel and walked a few blocks every day to the Galaxy StarWorld. The accomodations weren't glamorous but they did the trick.
Macau has two "sides": the peninsula, which is Macau proper, and the islands, which are called Coloane and Taipa. The "Cotai Strip" is reclaimed land between the two islands -- Cotai being an amalgam of Coloane and Taipa. All of the mega-resorts are located on the islands. On Monday we moved out there for the start of the APPT.
I have to say, I like the peninsula better than the islands. There's more building density and more street life on the peninsula -- more population density. It feels like a real city, and even more than that a real Asian city. Out on the islands, it feels like a mix of Tunica and Las Vegas, and not in a good way.
Not only that but we had a bit of a snafu with our accomodations at the Grand Waldo and were redirected to the Hotel Taipa Square, which must be Chinese for "mildew-filled flophouse with concrete beds". I have never slept on a harder bed in my life. I think if I ever tried to bring a hooker back to the room, she'd insist we have sex standing up.
Still having fun though. The APPT event has only been scheduled for seven one-hour levels each day, leaving us plenty of time to get up to shenanigans at night. I've also developed a
More details eventually, but we're soon to be underway for Day 3 and the craps table is calling.