Wednesday, November 20, 2013

My first WSOP adventure

Since I don't have any 8mm films to bore you with I'll just tell you about my first trip to the WSOP in Vegas this year.  As I've said, I'm not a professional poker player and this really was my first trip to the biggest poker event of the year.

Since I have a day job I only went for a week.  I stayed at Harrah's on the strip which was within walking distance of the Venetian and a quick (free) bus ride from the Rio.  Several quick observations of things that surprised me before I tell my tale:

1.  Harrah's did not impress me.  The building seemed old and musky and the room air conditioning didn't work properly.  It was equipped with a motion sensor so that it wouldn't run if you weren't in the room.  The only problem was that it also wouldn't run if you weren't moving about in the room.  It's difficult to get a good night's sleep while moving about enough to keep the air conditioning running--and air conditioning is an absolute must in Vegas.  Their poker room was also surprisingly small.
2.  As planned, I played several of the deep stack tournaments at The Venetion.  While advertised as being in the Venetian, about half of the tournaments are actually in their sister casino The Palazzo.  I was really impressed with both of these casinos.  Everything about them seemed to be first class.
3.  I had been to Vegas once before on vacation and stayed at the Bellagio.  I think most people would agree that the Bellagio is still the class of Vegas but I was impressed at the sheer size and scope of the casinos in Vegas.  Of course you have to remember that I spend most of my poker playing time in Biloxi and while I wouldn't trade Biloxi for Vegas for all the money in Vegas, Biloxi doesn't hold  a candle to Vegas as far as size and scope of facilities.
4.  I guess I'm about to show my ignorance here:  I didn't realize that there is a maximum buy-in at the small stakes cash games in Vegas.  In Biloxi it's not uncommon to see someone sit down at the 2-5 No Limit game with several thousand in front of them.  I was surprised when a player was told to pocket some of his chips when he sat down at our table in The Venetian.

Now to tell my tale:

One of the main reasons I was looking forward to playing at the WSOP Main Event Series was to play in the Single Table Tournaments.  For whatever reason I've always done pretty well at STT's and had heard that you could play in STT's to your heart's content at The Series.  That part was at least true.  Multiple STT's are running the whole time.  It looked like an STT player's fantasy.

The first day I won a couple of STT's and was up over $1k.  Even though the buy-in for these STT's was with real Ben Franklin's, the bulk of the payout for these tournaments was in $500 tournament entry chips.  I had two of them at the end of the first day and sold them without much fuss the next morning.

By the end of the second day I was up over $5k and had ten $500 chips to sell.  Here is where the problem started.  I positioned myself near the buy-in cage for tournament entry and started hawking my chips.  To my surprise most of the people that I tried to sell them to didn't know what I was trying to sell and treated me like some kind of scam artist.  At first I wrote this off to their inexperience and didn't think much about it.  Then one of these people went into the cage area and "reported" me to the security guard.  The guard came out and informed me that I couldn't sell the chips in the vicinity of the cage.  At first I took this as friendly advice and asked him where I should sell them.  I'm not sure what happened then---maybe he took my remark as being sarcastic??--but he proceeded to inform me that he was supposed to "confiscate your chips and have you arrested for panhandling" and advised me that he would do so if I persisted. 

So far I've avoided ever being incarcerated or even arrested and I've certainly never been accused of panhandling.  Here I was over a thousand miles from home and some guy with a badge was threatening to have me arrested.  I was also in a quandrie--I had to sell these chips.  They accounted for a large portion of my bankroll for the trip and I certainly didn't want to bring them back to Mississippi as souvenirs.

Fortunately, I met an acquaintance who knew some people and offered to sell the chips for me.  As it turned out, though, he then "borrowed" $500 from me.  I've seen him several times since then and he hasn't offered to pay me back so I guess I paid a 10% fee for his help.

The good folks at WSOP don't have to worry about my playing in any more of their Single Table Tournaments.

Just for the record, the above described ordeal put me on tilt.  It takes a lot to put me on tilt.  In fact, I believe this was the first time.  In the end, I blew my winnings and ended up almost exactly even for the trip.

Until later.

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