The Butterfly Effect; or, Seeing it Through

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008, 3:32 am

Yesterday we covered the last day of the World Series of Poker Main Event. 27 players entered, nine remain. I won’t reveal any details about what happened, both because I know some people like to be kept in the dark and because, well, I don’t wanna. I spent 12 hours or so reporting on what happened and if you couldn’t be bothered to read what I wrote, the heck with you.

For some reason it meant a lot to cover the Main Event to the conclusion. Last year I was off the last two days of the Series, and as a veteran I wanted to be there to close it out. I didn’t go into the last day in a good mental state–a well-known online player busted out on something of a sick hand and in my report I completely screwed it up. The info was given to me correctly, I rushed to get it in so I could catch up on other stuff, and I butchered it. The player then went off on his blog about how we messed up reporting the hand (my mistake made his play look really bad) and that blog post spawned a huge thread on 2+2. All that Sturm und Drang because I screwed up. Nice to know people are reading, anyway.

It really bothered me because I’m not supposed to make mistakes like that. I’m not perfect, heavens knows, but this was a layup and I missed it. I kept making little mistakes I don’t normally make and I couldn’t reset the circuit breaker in my brain. I don’t even remember what I did at the end of that night, I’m not sure if I went to South Point for a beer or if I went straight home. Everything from the last week is all blurred together.

Yesterday went a bit better. I was set up by the secondary feature table, I wrote some nice little color posts, and the day seemed to fly by. When we got down to 10 all the players moved to the ESPN TV table, where Change100 had been set up all day. There wasn’t room for me over there and she had things under control, so just like that I was…done. Over the last week or so quite a few members of the crew have seen their tours of duty come to an end and now there really wasn’t anything for me to do. I could write up a color post or two, maybe take some pictures, but at that point I was superfluous. I made myself useful by getting Mickey a bottle of water and I found a good vantage point to watch the final table play out.

I was tired. Good God, was I tired. Physically, mentally, emotionally. Making things even more bizarre is that yesterday the the company I worked for during the series and the company I blog for had, um, a little tiff. One is threatening to sue the other for something that happened during the Series, I won’t say anything about if for about 50 reasons but it’s a fairly big story in the poker world right now. "Mom and Dad are fighting again!" I typed in our Skype chat when the story started circulating around the Amazon Room. I’m not caught in the middle, exactly, I just wear both hats during the WSOP and it was all a bit surreal.

Surreal. That’s how the last few hours of the Main Event felt. I stood next to WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack and took a few pictures and waited for the thing to end. It’s a universal truth among poker media that the thing they root for the hardest is a quick end to the night. We all have our favorites and quietly cheer them on, but what we cheer for the hardest is for the tournament to end. Someone has to win, someone has to lose. So let’s not drag it out an unseemly amount.

As play went on and on and on last night I started to toy with the idea of leaving. Change had both hands on the steering wheel. I really didn’t care who got knocked out. I could pack up my gear and steal away into the night. And then sleep like the dead. It all sounded so delicious…too bad there was no way I’d actually act upon it. I was there when the WSOP started–I was sure as hell gonna be there when it ended. If I’d left I never would’ve forgiven myself. You see the thing through. No way I was going home to sleep when people I knew were still working. Nope. I shook the cobwebs out of my head and went back to watching poker.

It was a cruel end for one of the players, and I felt bad for being so happy that it was over. The player eliminated was one I was pulling for, and when the last card was dealt I was hoping it would be one he was looking for, even if it meant we had to be there until the dawn. But it wasn’t, he was out, and as everyone was cheering and clapping and hugging each other because his dream had come to an end he stood there shaking hands with the other players. Cruel game, at times.

We went to the Hooker Bar afterwards, me and Jen and Pauly and Change and Otis and Dan and Spaceman and various other scribblers. Otis asked how I felt, and when I said "Numb" he said he knew exactly what I meant. My emotional batteries were drained. I wasn’t happy, or relieved, or satisfied. If anything I felt nostalgic, for an event that’d ended an hour previous. I couldn’t believe it was all over. Where did those 47 days go? This year seemed to go by a lot faster than last year. I also said last night that "if I had to wake up tomorrow and cover a poker tournament I’d eat my gun". Not that I have a gun, but you get my drift.

We had some beers, talked about our plans after the Series, talked about getting together for dinner. This is a part of the gig I love–hanging out with these strange, smart people, bullshitting and drinking. Pauly and Change headed out and I was about to do the same when Otis said, "Pai Gow?" No, not this time. I was completely fried. It was pushing 6AM. I needed rest. Then Dan said he was going. And Spaceman. And his flight was in just a few hours so…come on…

We walked over to Gold Coast, the sun already way up, We found an empty table and settled in. I was nervous about returning to the scene of the Great Pai Gow Massacre, but the cards treated me well this time around and I won about $80. I also drank too many greyhounds and got fairly polluted. "You’re pretty messed up, huh?" Otis said, and I nodded. The last round of greyhounds arrived and I did something smart–I didn’t drink it. We got up and went to the buffet for breakfast, and that probably saved my life. Food, water, and time. A good combination when you’ve had a few.

Otis headed to the Palms and Spaceman and I walked back to the Rio. That’s when I remembered that I hadn’t cashed in my chips. So a trip to Gold Coast is in the offing tomorrow. No big deal, as I planned on going to the Rio one last time before I leave. After I wished Spaceman bon voyage I walked down the long hallway toward the Amazon Room, marveling at how different it feels now that the Series is over. For the last week or so they’ve been tearing down displays and removing signage. The Poker Kitchen closed, the booths outside the hallway were broken down and carried away. Inside the Amazon Room it was much the same–as the field was reduced they removed the tables and chairs until it looked like an aircraft hanger. As the stakes grew larger the spectacle grew smaller. And then just like that, poof, it was over. That’s all. Say good night. Go home.

When I finally reached my car it was around 10:15. I thought about taking a cab but judged I was OK to drive. It’s a fairly straight shot, I’ve driven it just about every day of the Series, and I felt in control. I passed Mandalay Bay on I-15 and realized how bone-tired I was. I cranked up the volume on the radio and sang along to keep myself wide awake. When I parked in the garage I almost conked out right there. I dragged myself upstairs, peeled off my clothes, and crawled under the covers. It was just a bit past 10:30. Damn Otis.

I lay there for a few minutes before the exhaustion overcame me and thought, "It’s over. Thank God." So why do I feel kinda sad that it IS over? I think in part it’s because, well, the World Series ISN’T over. They still have to play the final table in November. We were all talking about that last night, how last year we had a champion, we knew who won. It feels like we haven’t fully done our jobs yet. We need closure. And we aren’t gonna get it for four months.

I’m still wiped out. I thought about going down to soak in the hot tub but I don’t even have the energy for that. Tomorrow there’s a barbecue for the PokerNews crew here at the complex where I live, and then hopefully I’ll get together with some friends for drinks and/or dinner. Thursday I fly home on the redeye. That last day I’ll probably head to the Strip, wander around a bit, then get home to pack. It’s bizarre–I feel like I’ve been here forever, and I feel like I just got here. I’m going to miss this place, I’ll miss South Point, I’ll even miss the Amazon Room. But I can’t wait to get back home. The grass is always greener, I guess. Or maybe I’m just too tired to even think straight about that. 

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One Response to “The Butterfly Effect; or, Seeing it Through”

  1. Drizztdj Says:

    Like standing between a drunk sister-in-law and my wife while they argue.

    Hope things work out Gene, and great job during the series!

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