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Subject: World Series of Poker Road Trip Report 
  by RJ Haney

To start off this road report, a little bit of back-story is in order.  I used to live in Vegas; moved there 
just before the Mirage broke ground in 1988 and for 10 years I watched the birth of ďNew VegasĒ.  
When I moved on, Vegas didnít look anything like what it did when I visited for the first time.  
Living there, I learned there are two types of residents, those that gamble too much and those that
donít gamble much, if at all.  I fortunately fall into the latter category.  So, since I moved away, 
I have only been back to Vegas one other time, for Bartfest in 2002.
 
Flying in, it was a bit turbulent and the plane was coming in on an unusual approach, north/south rather 
than east/west.  As the plane was making a turn south of the Strip to line up, I wasnít prepared for 
what I was about to see.  I had great view of the Strip from a few thousand feet up, only problem was, 
I didnít recognize it.  And I donít just mean a little, it wasnít anything like what it was before. 

Yeah sure, the MGM, Luxor, Excalibur and Stratosphere were still easily visible, but in the center of 
the Strip corridor, lots of new, bigger properties had sprung up.  These buildings arenít just big, theyíre huge.  
And this monstrosity called the ďCityCenterĒ is being built right in the middle of it all.  Itís a combination of
urban village, resort, casino, residence and retail.    Anyway, I get off the plane, walk onto the jet way and 
into Vegasí oppressive heat, itís about 98 degrees on Saturday.  And donít let anyone fool you and tell you, 
"oh, itís just a dry heat."  When the mercury tops 110 degrees, itís hot, dry or not.  Iím happy it never got 
that hot during this trip.
 
My plane arrives in Vegas just about the time Bart is sitting down to his first hands of poker, so off to the 
hotel to check in and then its time to go to the Rio and watch some WSOP action.  As Iím heading towards 
the Rio, I give Bart a call, and leave a message to let him know Iím in town.  During a short break he gets 
back to me and lets me know heís on table 259 and gives me some directions towards where he is at.  
I figure things are in the convention center and was surprised there werenít more signs pointing towards 
The World Series of Poker when youíre at the casino floor of the Rio.  Youíd think it was just another 
convention to them.
  
So here I am, ground zero of the poker world, walking the hallways past booths of people hawking 
everything poker related from cards, chips and apparel, to books and videos.  You name it, somebody is 
probably selling it somewhere around here.  And Iím hunting around for table 259.  Give me a break!!  
You know how many tables there are here? Thousands, literally thousands, ok maybe not that many, 
it just seemed like it.  In the quick call I had with Bart, he gave me some really reasonable directions 
through the maze and I found the ďBrasiliaĒ room pretty quickly.
 
The first thing I noticed is how orderly and organized everything is in here.  The tables are all boxed up 
nicely with each ďboxĒ having 6 rows by 4 columns of tables.  And 4 boxes of these 24 tables are in 
the Brasilia room.  Each table has 10 players, so in this one room there are about 960 players.  
Even though you hear a low mummer of voices, the biggest sound you hear is the clicking of poker chips. 
Itís constant and never ending.  You have nearly 100 tables of players making bets, raising, calling and 
if nothing else, the nervous tick of players playing with their chips.  Itís not annoying, but itís inescapable.
 
As I arrive, theyíre getting close to finishing up the 3rd hour of play and Bart is still in it, I take that as 
a good sign, as it certainly would have been disappointing to find out Bart had already been knocked out 
of the tournament before I even made it over.  They have these boxes of tables roped off and spectators can
walk around and watch the people playing.  There are all types of players here; the Unabomber types 
wearing hoodies and sunglasses, or ones wearing big headphones to drown out the sounds of everything, 
the sports jersey wearing ones and the normal ones too.  I found Bartís table and do a walk by so Bart 
can see Iíve made it, trying not to disturb him.  From here I keep an eye on him but walk around to
soak it all in.  Unlike a casino floor, there are no really loud noises, nobody is cheering wildly when they 
get a good hand.  Itís just a well oiled machine of players playing hand after hand after hand of poker. 
Yeah, every once in awhile you hear a commotion, but itís the exception, not the rule.
 
Finally I see Bart take a quick break and I catch up with him.  He tells me everyone started with 3000 
chips and during the first two hours he was slowly but steadily losing them and got down to about 2000.  
He realized he was quickly working his way out of the tournament and needed a change, so after the first 
official break at the end of the second hour he started playing more aggressively (I think he used the
term crazy) and worked his way up to about 12K of chips during that third hour.  For that early in the 
tournament, Bart is doing pretty good.  Theyíre not keeping any kind of a leader board, but Iím guessing 
his chip stack is decent.
 
There were about 6000 entrants into this particular tournament and about half or 3000 played on the 
first of two Day 1s.  In the Brasilia room, about 70 tables were used (the rest were being used for 
satellite tournaments) so there were about 700 players here, there were probably 3 other rooms of 
players playing this tournament as well. At the start of the fourth hour, people are getting knocked out 
of the tournament at a good pace and theyíre starting to condense tables.  As weíre getting closer to 
the end of the 4th hour, I finally catch up with Mrs. Bart, it was great seeing her again.  At the end of 
the 4th hour and another official break, Bartís table is the next to be condensed and heíll be moving.  
Heís holding his own and if he just plays conservatively, heíll make it to Day 2 on Monday, but that 
nice chip stack he has now wonít look so good against who will be left if he continues plays that way.
 
I hadnít had much to eat, so as Bart starts his fifth hour, Iím going to get dinner.  I havenít seen any of 
the big pros yet and I figure Iíll walk around a little, find some of the other tournaments that are going on 
and maybe spot a pro or two.  As I walk out into the hallway and turn the corner, who is the first one I see 
but Mike ďThe MouthĒ Matusow.  Heís at a table with a crowd around him and a microphone in his hand 
and thatís a dangerous combination.  He looks like he was doing a question and answer session and the first 
thing I hear from him was .... ďAnd what hand was I fucked in the ass with and knocked out of the tournament?Ē 
What a way to get an introduction to him, eh?  He was in the 40 grand entry fee tournament and apparently 
had just gotten knocked out.  I walked away shaking my head.  The guy is so low rent.
 
Before dinner, I found what was left of the $40,000 entry fee tournament and they were down to two tables.  
The only big name I recognized at those tables was Fossil-Man Raymer, though a few others looked familiar.  
Now this is what it was all about, the lights, the TV cameras, and the crowd around the table.  Whenever there
was a big hand the crowd buzzed and even roared.  The one thing that is really different from watching it on TV 
was you donít know what the players have in their hands, so unless there is a showdown, you donít know who 
made the right move, all you see is the transfer of chips.  Itís not a letdown, itís just different.
 
I did dinner at the Rioís ďWorld BuffetĒ, itís not bad.  The quality of the food is good enough, but whatís nice 
about the buffet is you can eat sushi, Mexican, Chinese, seafood, American, Italian and the list goes on.  
The buffet isnít really about the quality, but the variety, not that itís bad quality, Iíve just had better.  
If you canít find something you like here, youíre just not hungry.
 
I get back as the 6th hour is finishing up and theyíre about to go on dinner break.  Perry, a friend of Bartís, 
is also playing and had decided to make reservations at the Voodoo Cafe.  Itís a fancy place up on the 
50th floor of the Rioís Masquerade Tower.  Even with the little time I met Perry, I can tell he doesnít just live life,
he savors it.  There will always be something going on around him, if there isnít, heíll get it started.  From the cafe, 
you can go up to the 51st floor and out on an outdoor patio.  Itís got an amazing view of Las Vegas and as 
the sun was setting, it was just stunning.
 
As weíre drinking a little champagne and theyíre ordering dinner, the conversation turns to the tournament 
and we find out Bart is down to about 8K in chips and he realizes he canít just coast into Day 2.  Granted heís 
got enough chips, but at the start of the 6th hour, there isnít just a big blind and a small blind anymore, but
there is now an ante as well.  And if he tries to just coasts, heís going to fizzle out.  It worked earlier in the day, 
we were all hoping it would work again.  As I had already eaten dinner, I left as the food was about to arrive, 
so much else to see and do in Sin City.
 
Unfortunately, all good things have to come to an end ... as Bart was trying to position himself to be in 
good shape for Monday, but it was not to be.  It didnít take long in the 7th hour of more aggressive play 
to bust out, going all in with 2 pair and losing to a bigger 2 pair.  Iím sure heís learned a lot about the tournament 
and himself, but heíll have to tell us about that and Iím sure weíll hear more from him over the next weeks.
 
If youíve never been to a WSOP tournament, itís worth coming to Vegas to see it. 
Next year, Iím not just going to be a spectator, but a player as well.
 
RJ, nomadic pillar
 San Francisco
 
 

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