Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Noob's First Blogger Gathering: Introduction

Let's see, the recap. I keep talking about it. I've started and stopped and deleted and started again and chopped and edited and deleted this so many times. I've even saved many of the recaps I found for references. Geez there are some good ones. There's also a lot missing so I must be in good company.

If I don't state this clearly enough, I'll just get it out right here, right now. The gathering is an absolute blast that if you've never attended, you need to scrape every penny together you can and go. Just do it. Think of it as a moral imperative.

A word of warning about your first Winter Gathering, you will be completely exhausted when you get home. No joke, make sure you take one extra day off just to transition. I tweeted about this. There really should be a halfway house for career people returning to normal life after a blogger weekend.

I had really hoped to write this sooner. I really had. When we got back to Minnesota on Monday, I knew our first night would be about the kids. As much as we like to spend a little time away, there is nothing sweeter then getting home and hugging your kids.

I went back to work again on Tuesday: Cue FAIL music.  Not really sure why I thought that was a good wasn't. Tuesday night was also a private tournament for my poker league. I was still running good, unfortunately, it wasn't good enough. Busted just shy of the money.

So Wednesday, I get an IM from BuddyDank. He wants to make sure I log into BDR and tell some stories from the Vegas weekend. No problem. I sign up for the Mookie and while waiting to donk off $11, someone reminds me of the WBCOOP freeroll is that night. It's free and PLO8. I have no idea how to play problem. I go deep and finish 29th. 

Christ. Still no sleep.

I think Thursday night I feel asleep around 8.

That's enough whining to last you through the cold, hard winter.

Before we left for Vegas, a co-worker and one of my best friends had commented that he couldn't remember seeing me wound as tight as I was the week before we left. It was true. The stresses of life and work were really wearing me down. But there was something else winding me up. I was actually really nervous about the gathering.

Wha? I'm really not a shy guy, but what was I dragging my wife and myself into?

Our flight was basically uneventful. We arrived at the airport, found parking in the ramp, got through security, found our gate and ate some lunch. Yeah, it is was pretty exciting.

For the most part, I just read "Elements of Poker" by Tommy Angelo. I had read on several blogs very positive reviews of this book and those reviews were spot on. This is an excellent book to get your head screwed on for poker. Reading this book got me really thinking about my A game and how I spend too much time playing my B and C game. Nice prep for a Vegas trip, huh?

We had only left Las Vegas a few months earlier. It really was only 7 months since we left McCarran and flew home. Land at that airport and getting around is starting to feel a little bit like home. I always love how you can tell where you are when you step off the plane. Stepping into the terminal fills your ears with the sound of slot machines. Unlike any airport I have ever been to.

When we booked the trip, Expedia had offered us some kind of deal for land transportation from the airport to the hotel and back. Seemed like a good idea, we just needed to find them. Piece of cake, let's just wonder a round for a while. McCarran is a bit smaller then MSP so this was surprisingly quick, but it gave me and the Mrs. a little time to talk about what was to come. We were both getting very excited.

Since this was my first gathering, there were a few details that I had seemed to miss reading the posts from previous years. The first detail was that it's rodeo weekend. I'd swear I was the only man not wearing a cowboy hat. Guys, I'm not a cowboy. I really don't like country music, at all.

The ride to the hotel took us past all the sites I remember on every trip to Vegas. When we travelled by the Hard Rock, my wife squeezed my hand. It was the location of our honeymoon. Of course someone on the bus brought up that crazy scene in the movie Con Air when the plan crashes. That's one of those just stupid things they do in movies. You can't take out the guitar in front of the Hard Rock and then slide down the strip...

The driver pulls into the drop off area in front of the Imperial Palace. My anticipation was palpable. I had arranged with Joanada and BuddyDank to meet them there. They were going to be at the Geisha Bar.

These people are like old friends, but I've never met them.

I called Buddy on his cell. I wanted to make sure they were there. No where did I find an itinerary on anyone's blog. Me and OhCountess really had no idea what to do or think. I did know. The friggin' line to check into the IP was LONG. They had one person checking people in. One. Christ all Friday.

It became quite apparent that the line wasn't going any where in a hurry. All the reservations and credit cards for this process were in my name. I convinced OhCountess to walk to the Geisha Bar and see who was there. Nice guy, huh? Well, I had two thoughts: 1) The could suddenly bring a whole crew of people and check everyone in in a hurry (not likely) or 2) I could be offered a beer, a conversation could start and I could become a total ass a leave my wife waiting in line. (Very likely)

I struck up a conversation with a couple of guys in the line. Like I said, I'm really not a shy guy. This helped to pass the time. Any of you that were there will remember that there were times my iPhone never left my hand. I had no service and no wi-fi in the line. Yep. I was getting twitchy.

The hotel check in is to the left up front in the casino. You walk in the front doors and you see casino straight ahead and to the right and the check in on the left. My segment of the line was facing toward the depths of the casino. While making small talk with a professional craps player and a guy that was dating a girl from Albert Lea, MN, I notice Jo, she was walking my way. I kinda waited to see if Brenda had made contact. Jo walked right up to me and gave me the first of many hugs that weekend. It was pretty cool. We'd final got to person! We said our hellos, probably hugged a few more times and she headed back. Really, no one wants to wait in this line.

As she's about to leave, I noticed Buddy making his way my way. He was taller then I expected, but the ciggy butt was right there. Of course the only place in the entire IP that you can't smoke besides a non-smoking room is this very line. He got that little problem taken care of and we too got to shake hands and final meet.

What felt like waiting for Christmas morning final passed. We had a room, and keys and a place to hang our hat.

What's so cool about the Geisha Bar? It's on the way to the hotel elevators, that's what's cool. You have to walk past everyone.

I should have probably brought a notebook and pen with me. There were bloggers already gathered and drinking. Of course I HAVE to get to the room. There are certain things that this blogger won't sit down to do in a public restroom

After QUICKLY dropping our stuff off at the room, we made our way back down to the Geisha. Over the course of some many hours, I drank a lot of Bud Light. I hate Bud Light but being the beer snob that I am, I just really wasn't impressed with the selection. No offense but as I learned in college, "Just get the first few down as quick as possible because after the 3rd beer, it just doesn't matter."

I got introduced to Pauly and Change100, two very nice people. I gotta say I was pretty surprised that Pauly had ever heard of me...a 'D' Lister.

Before getting to Vegas, I was told by Kat that Jo would introduce me to people. She succeeded with Pauly and got me introduced to PirateLawyer. I think after that, she just gave me hugs when I was near her :)

I was totally excited to fine PL. Before getting to Vegas, the only real event I had planned was beside the tournament at the Venetian was a trip to the Pinball Hall of Fame.

It wasn't too long before the place was just hopping with bloggers. We had arrived and taken over the Geisha. I seriously doubt they made any money that night. We did a lot of drink, laughing and greeting. It was a very good time.

Let's see how many I can recall meeting and please forgive me I miss you here. There was a lot of free beer and a lot of people that I've never met before and I took no notes. Note to self: bring the gawd darn notebook down from the room with you. Notes are good things.

CK, F-Train, Kurokitty, PokerGnome, Muhctim, Kat, RecessRampage, The Rooster, California April, California Jen, PokerPeaker, DonkeyPuncher, Derek, MetsFan, The Wife and Dr. Chako, Astin, Gracie and Pablo, Maudie, Falstaff and a lot of really fuzzy memories. I know there is way more and I'm forgetting them. Damn it.

OhCountess was having fun too. She loves the -EV machines. She sat at the bar next to Jo hitting quads like crazy. You see Jo and Buddy had already cleaned out a few poker machines. Drinks on the house! OhCountess was also the newest wife to hit the gathering. As Astin said, "Guys, it's time to marry up."

When you are comfortable in your marriage, you take it as quite the compliment when the guys take turns hitting on your wife. You guys ain't got a shot. She goes home with me, but you know what, it was sure entertaining watching you do ya thang. Rooster, dude, you need a woman.

For a first night, I couldn't have felt more welcome. Whew!

At some point, and I have no idea what or when that point was, we dragged our drunken butts up to bed. I'm pretty sure we found the right room. Security left us alone.

We needed to sleep this off for the next day was the trip to the Pinball Hall of Fame and cash games at the MGM.

But it's late. There are a ton of pictures from the pinball museum. I'll post them soon and regale you with stories of me fleecing the tourist. Fleecing is a stretch lie. This will just have to do for now. Like I said. This was a weekend full of rich experiences I just have to write about.

Drizz and Gentleman Jim are joining OhCountess and I for a little home game action this weekend. Boi! Anyone still need an invite? We have room for a few more.


Mark said...

Great start to your recap! Can't wait to read more... Wish I could take you up on that offer to join your home game sometime, I'm actually not that far from you (Lake City here). Do you let non-bloggers in? :-) We actually have our own home game tonight and then I have to get up early and take my daughter to her first indoor soccer practice in Rochester tomorrow...

Thanks for a great's nice to read about some "regular" people and their poker exploits.


lightning36 said...

You need to post a picture of your wife!

Oh wait a minute -- Waffles will look at it and ...

Wolfshead said...

Nice start. Sounds like it was a blast. Sorry I missed it. In the IP and didn't play. Loved playing that place. Ambiance sucked, nothing but a roped off wide spot in an upstairs hallway, but they had the best coffee and cookies in town and $3/hr comps not to mention the room was one gigantic fish tank. Once made over $800 in one night playing 2-4 limit with a kill. Heard the room itself has changed since Harrah's took over so don't know if the coffee, cookie or fish are still there tho.

Gentleman Jim said...

I still need to find wrapping paper, having a hard time spotting some after Christmas. But maybe I haven't tried that hard either :).

Also, I want a razz rematch sir. And I'll remember to bring a little money for the cash game. And my own beer so I don't have to mooch yours. A lot to do tomorrow.

OhCaptain said...

Mark: most of the people coming are non-bloggers. We'll have to meet sometime. Thanks for the nice words. I really appreciate it.

Lightning: Dude. We really should go to a game this summer. I'll bring you a Twins hat.

Wolfshead: The card room in the IP is now in the casino almost directly across from the hotel check in. I didn't actually play there this time. Hope to next time. You'll read why later :)

Shrike said...

Great initial recap entry. Am anxious to see more pics.


OhCaptain said...

PL - The next recap is gonna be full of pictures. I've been going through all of the pics from that Friday. There was a lot of them :)

DrChako said...

Please no pics of a drunken Dr. Chako.

Great recap.