WSOP: An Australian Lady in Las Vegas

by Alison Lightman

Everything I knew about Las Vegas came from CSI, or beery war stories being swapped by Aussies propping up a bar back home in Sydney or Melbourne. Neither came close to preparing me for the reality.

After a week, I'm over the jetlag and brain-fag, and only half-expecting Grissom and Willows to leap from every black SUV I see, but my mind is almost refusing to comprehend all I have encountered. And so far that includes only the Rio Casino, a couple of wild nightclubs, and the inside of my hotel.

Being part of the Australian tournament poker scene the past couple of years has been like running away with the circus, so I've puzzled over how I am possibly going to adequately describe the WSOP Main Event and Las Vegas for you. To prepare, I am marshalling every hyperbole I know and putting them on steroids.

Try the heat, for instance, the first thing that hit me. It is searing, even to someone raised in Perth. Over 100 degrees most days and dry, under a sun that bleaches out the landscape and after only ten minutes squinting outside, makes my vision temporarily black and white. All the technicolour neon at night becomes so much more delicious to the senses.

I've tossed my girly "won't leave white marks" deodorant in favour of my husband Sarne's big butch American can of active sports protection, which won't leave me blushing. Incidentally, it packs vastly more psi wallop than what they make for us women. The first time I blasted myself halfway across the bathroom floor (tip: don't use while standing on wet tiles.)

It did seem like overkill for an indoor blogging job which at first, frankly, seemed to involve a lot of sitting down talking and typing, and a little gentle strolling through the air-conditioned halls of the Convention Centre, spiced with the occasional mad dash between tournament floor and press room, as I followed Emad Tahtouh's progress in the $5 000 Pot Limit Hold'em. (He came 7th).

I even managed to pop outside to, um, admire the view a couple of times. The nearest point for view-admiring (without setting off a smoke alarm) is a back exit between the Poker Kitchen and the port-a-loos. Also an excellent vantage point for admiring the beer promotional girls on their breaks. They've exposed to me yet another adjective shortage, along with plenty of pierced midriff and eye-boggling decolletage. I will leave that story to the boys.

As someone who spent 20 years as a broadcast reporter, it's been huge fun without huge pressure, so far. But I'm about to lose my WSOP Main Event virginity. I can feel the excitement rising in my seasoned blogging colleagues, who are saying worrying things like "endurance" and "marathon" about the days ahead.

Tonight might be my last chance to play for a little while and, in the local spirit of never doing anything by halves, I am off to a party being held by the lovely Joe Hachem and Antonio Esfandiari, at Antonio's Las Vegas home. But I'm sorry to say, I probably won't be able to tell any stories about that.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Series of Poker