WSOP: Hot parties produce steam for main event

by Mad Harper

As I accidentally arrived in Vegas a day early, I haven't started official blogging for PokerStars yet but it's the nature of blogging that all must be reported, so here's a report on how I spent yesterday.

The truth is I spent yesterday at parties - and I recommend this to everyone as an excellent way of getting through the tedious lull before the Big One. Both these parties were HOT, but the first one was literally hot. World Champion Joe Hachem - from Melbourne - and Antonio Esfandiari the Magician hosted a fantastic BBQ which was several leagues away from the city centre and on a street unknown to any cab driver in Vegas. (There are more than 3,000 cab drivers here so that gives you an idea of how very unknown this street was).

Giiven that Joe Hachem is now a multi-millionaire, I knew this definitely wouldn't be one of those typical throw-a-prawn-on-the-barbie and grab-a-tinny things that Aussies are famous for. Er, wrong. Leopards don't change their spots and Australians don't change the way they host barbies - even if they are super-rich and one of the best poker players in the world. Apart from some very Vegas-style bartending (no drink was served without a lot of impressive bottle-juggling beforehand) and the fact that several of the guests were millionaires, or film stars, or both, Joe and Antoniono's BBQ was just like any other brilliantly-relaxed Australian-style prawn/tinny function. As nearly everyone there was a poker player, there was - of course - a poker tournament. It was a free -to -enter, triple shoot-out played on electronic gaming tables supplied by PokerTek. These were a cross between live play and online and I was thinking of getting a table myself until the PokerTek rep said that a) they weren't for sale and b) even if they were, they would cost around $60,000. PokerTek were generously giving away a seat in the main event to the winner so I entered just for the hell of it (with vague plans to magnaminously donate my seat to charity). As it happens, I was saved from selflessness when my pocket 3s were busted by Antonio's brother Paul. However I did outlast Isabelle "No Mercy" Mercier by a couple of minutes.

Back to the barbie outside where it was so hot that Antonio had set up an air conditioning machine to spew a fine mist of iced water on the guests. Unfortunately, it was spewing so much fine mist that after a couple of hours, it had turned part of the lawn into a Deliverance-style swamp. When it got dark, some of the smaller guests sank without trace. At least I think that's where they went, but perhaps they disappeared during Antonio's magic show earlier. The Best Dressed Guest Award went, as usual, to Holland's Marcel Luske - an island of pin-stripe-suited elegance amongst the Hawaiin shirts and board shorts. French singer Patrick Bruel and Joe Hachem came joint 2nd.

After several hours of waiting for people to strip and swim in the pool (they didn't), my colleagues and I left - or rather we tried to leave but of course this street was unknown to any of Vegas' 3000 cab drivers so it was quite a long wait. A very grungy but completely gorgeous guy who looked like he'd spent the afternoon crossing the desert on a Harley was waiting with us. Could he share our cab, he asked. Absolutely, we said (all girls). Unfortunately two cabs turned up and he went in the other one.

It was Woody Harrelson.

It was time for Party No. 2 - one of the many high-dollar treats on the menu in advance of the main event. At the door, we were saved from actually having to do anything as vulgar as stand in line by Phil Ivey who hailed my colleague Courtney Yameron (Courtney looks after all the Team PokerStars players - brilliantly) and fast-tracked us through the bouncers. The highlight of the evening for me was when I declared my undying love to Mike Matusow and he returned it (while looking over my shoulder to see if there was someone younger/sexier he could pull). Actually what I said to him was: "Mike, I worship the ground you walk on. You are an animal. You are Neanderthal. Totally unreconstructed. I loved it when you said women can't play poker." He seemed pleased.

Talking of animals, a chimp has allegedly been entered into the main event. It knows how to fold, check and raise but apparently gets bored after a couple of hands and starts throwing its chips around and demanding bananas.

I am not kidding.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Series of Poker