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Hazy hits Tunica - the report.

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  • Hazy hits Tunica - the report.

    Posted in PSO Convention Forum as well. My first ever trip report.

    Warning - this is going to be extremely long.

    I get to the Minneapolis airport about an hour early, plenty of time to wait and relax. Sitting there, I watch other people as I often do. People at airports are often fascinating. I listen to a Dad on his cell phone with his son, telling him he can only play his video games for 15 minutes and that he is going to quiz him on his upcoming spelling test in a couple of days. Cell phones are everywhere I notice, I've never owned one, so it amuses me how many people are unaware that they are revealing so much about themselves in such a public place.

    A plane arrives and the first class passengers get off - they have an air of confidence about them, as if they know that they have it better. The other passengers arrive behind them and they look tired and haggard, glad to be at their destination. An old couple sits across from me, their legs crossed identically, one hand resting on the opposite leg. Old and young, pretty and not so pretty, clothes stylish and not so (the worst Christmas sweater in history could be found here) adorn them -- there are people of all walks of life. On some there is a sense of quiet trepidation, looks of unawareness. A lot are reading, books by Dr. Phil, novels by Grisham, and newspapers. I dream someday that they'll be reading one of my books waiting for a plane.

    Finally, it is time for me to leave. I sleep most of the way, or try to. It had been a restless night at home -- I had felt like a kid does the night before Christmas, excited and nervous. I change planes in Chicago and arrive in Memphis at around 9:30 in the evening. As I come off the escalator, I see a man that looks a lot like the one photo I had seen of zipman. Standing next to him is this young woman though who I couldn't really recognize, so I'm not sure it is him. He comes up to me, though, and then introduces me to Jen Muzzey. Jen and I wait by baggage claim while Zipman goes looking for Bruno who was supposed to meet us here. After a short while, Zip comes down with this tall, black trench coat looking fellow who looked nothing like what I had imagined Bruno to look like (for some reason, I had always imagined him as looking like an old bulldog). Bruno gives each of us one of his now famous hugs and we are off for the 45 minute ride to Tunica.

    We talk about a lot of things on the way back -- PSO, poker, family, life -- and the ride goes quickly. Tunica, for those of you that have never been there, is literally in the middle of nowhere. We drive past fields of nothing, dry cold land, probably cotton fields in the summer for miles and miles. Then, as if you entered an episode of the Twilight Zone, come the lights of Tunica. Unlike Vegas or Atlantic City, the Casino's are not bunched together. In fact, they are miles and miles apart. The Gold Strike, where the convention and WPO are being held, sits next to the Horseshoe. Their lights are a dazzling yellow, almost gold, as we pull in. Even though I've been up for nearly thirty hours straight, sleep is the last thing on my mind.

    The lobby of the Gold Strike is impressive. High elevated ceilings in somewhat of a dome shape remind me almost of a cathedral. Behind the lobby desk is somewhat of a waterfall effect in the wall, and people are moving about everywhere you look. I can hear the clanging of change coming from the slot machine area to the immediate right of the lobby. A gift shop and cafe are directly in front of me. I hurriedly drop my stuff off in the room and rush back down to go meet some PSO'ers.

    For someone whose only experience at live poker had been at the Canterbury card room, I am quickly overwhelmed. In the middle of this large room (I imagine it's usually used for large conventions) are poker table after poker table, almost a hundred. People are talking and laughing. I walk through the poker room and see people playing with piles of chips in front of them. Some of the players even have large stacks of one hundred dollar bills underneath or behind their chips. Now this is what the poker world is really like, I think. People slam their fists in disgust after losing a hand. A yelp of excitement at hitting a card on the river to win a big pot. Railbirds chiming in from the side. The hustle and bustle as people move in and out of the room.

    Finally, I find Zipman and meet some of the other PSO'ers - Freddieboy, PokerGoddess, JMuzzey, and others. After sitting for a while, PokerGoddess is kind enough to talk to the poker room and get us a 3-6 limit Hold Em game going. Here is where the fun really begins. Sitting at the table are Indy Bob in the 1 seat, Bruno in the 2 seat, myself in the 3, JMuzzey in the 4, Freddieboy in the 5, Astro in the 6, ResIspa in the 7, Debonair in the 8, MuzzeyJ in the 9 and RonitF in the 10. Quite the lineup, and I wonder how long it will take before I have all their money -- or they have mine. The first hand gets dealt and Jen raises it up. After a 9 comes on the turn to go with the 9 on the flop, she is almost embarrassed to turn up her winning cards - 69 suited. This only sets the tone for the rest of the evening.

    Bruno starts complaining that the rest of us play like donkeys, and he's probably right. Indy Bob leaves and turns his chips over to PokerGoddess who promptly proceeds to lose most of them (at the end of the night, I was kind enough to lose his last $20 for him - it's fun playing 57 off for a raise). Debonair is showing Bruno his tell, but still raking in the occasional pot, although I did manage to cost him $6 when I proceed to tell the whole table that he had hit quad queens on the river. Freddie gets a few beers in him and proceeds to run over the table with his angle shooting, even making a stone cold bluff on Debonair with nothing but ten high on a JJ88 board. ResIspa is quiet, the man doesn't say a word, but by God don't try and bluff him with Jack Ten off when he has pocket jacks. Astro, on the other hand is the polar opposite of Res - the man won't shut up. All he does is talk. He had a particular affection for our cocktail waitress, whom upon finding out that she was 36 years old remarks "Well them aren't 36 year old breasts." Perhaps the line of the night came from Astro when he found out she had a boyfriend -- "Is he a homosexual?"

    As has been mentioned before, people would get up to leave and let other people play their cards for them. They would gather behind the table to talk. Dealers would shake their hand and smile in amusement at some of the action - you almost felt sorry for them, particularly a young lady by the name of Venus who had to deal with the verbal fun that Freddie and Astro dealt her way. It was nearly 5 am and the game was still going strong when I decided to call it a night down $20 - the best $20 I ever lost.

    I wake up the next morning well after all the golfers have left, oh well there goes the heckling. I go down to the poker room and get in a sat with 5 other PSO'ers (detailed elswhere). The dealer remarks it is one of the longest sats he has ever dealt and we finish barely in time to go sign up for the PSO tourney. Everyone has started to meet one another now and it would take me pages upon pages to describe each and every one of them, but I can say that everyone was truly a delight to meet and talk to. I think the only dim point for me was that I never got to meet Samz. I meet Mark and talk with him briefly. While I might not always agree with everything Mark has to say or offer, I can say that he is enthusiastic and excited about poker, and especially about PSO. You could see the look of joy on his and Tina's faces as the PSO'ers started to gather in numbers.

    The PSO tournament was unlike most of the tournaments I had played in at PSO. The play was actually very good, a little tighter than normal. I played well and accumulated some chips early but went card dead at the wrong time and finished 13th. I had taken some extensive notes of the lively and exciting final table, but Nolan Dalla has detailed that pretty well already so it would merely be repeating what he had to offer. However, I can add some of the verbal gems that could be heard there.

    New Jane - "I haven't had a hot flash like this since menopause"

    New Jane upon it getting down to 3 people, 2 of them women - "It's 2 against 1. It looks like a woman is going to win."

    Wild Bill's response "You are a woman, you know men never come in 2nd."

    New Jane warning everyone when it is her Big Blind "Let's do it."

    Wild Bill's response "I've been waiting for someone to say that all my life."

    I also talked to Ruth Spiegel after her win (Well done Ruth!) who was gracious enough to give the extra winnings ($688 after the 4 way chop) to the dealers (well deserved I might add having to deal with us). Ruth mentioned that she was never really nervous and that they key for her was being able to pick up a lot of small pots here and there. Before joining PSO, Ruth had dabbled in 4-8 limit hold em games, but has been able to move up to 20-40 because of the experience she has gained playing at PSO (she says PSO has been invaluable to her in this regard). I asked her the one difference between playing at PSO and playing the PSO tourney were and she said "Well, I couldn't kick my dog and I had to wear clothes." I'm sure some of the guys wouldn't have minded the latter there Ruth (in fact, I think Bill might have just conceded had you done that). I think Mark summed up the PSO tourney best when he said, "It was almost too fun to be legal."

    After playing a few sats the next day and failing miserably in an Omaha 8 (my first time ever playing Omaha live) tourney at the Grand (I went from 9000 to bust in two hands AA flopped set lost to runner runner wheel and A235 ds flop 45 failed to hit), I spent most of the evening along with most PSO'ers railbirding the PSO'ers who were playing in the Limit Hold 'Em tourney. It was almost as exciting (if not more) as playing. Each hand a PSO'er entered, we would clamor and move in close to the table to watch the action. We applauded when they made it to the money, and when they busted they also received our warmest congratulations. It was tough watching Tom (Hammer1) bust out so close to the final table, but he played remarkable.

    The following day was the day of the PSO Seminar. I'll be honest here, some of it was a little dry, a little too basic for me. Some of it was like an introduction on how to play poker, as if the instructors were under the basic assumption that we didn't know how to. I would have liked a little more in the way of poker theory and tournament strategy, particulary considering that is what PSO focuses on. Too much of it was geared towards ring game strategy. That being said, each of the speakers were well spoken and had a clear message. Barry Tanebaum in particular was most impressive to me (probably because it was more geared towards actual poker play and the humor with which he presented it). Before the trip, I didn't really read or respect what Barry T. had to offer PSO, but let me tell you the man knows what he is talking about and I will be looking at his offerings with a new eye.

    T.J. Cloutier popped in for a quick chat and while he didn't talk a lot of theory, I think most of us were just thrilled that he took the time to talk with us and answer our questions. Here were some of the things that TJ had to say:

    "Have poker and have a life too." (Amen to that)

    "Watch everything players do when not in a hand."

    "Every time I play poker I learn something."

    "Playing the player is more important than playing the cards."

    "Don't lose money to find money. You should always know where you are."

    "Do not be satisfied with making the money. Think about first place all the time."

    "Have a good attitude."

    "Phil is the only man alive who if he had seven suckers at the table would tell them all how bad they are." (a quip about Hellmuth that got the audience laughing)

    "The time to get chips is when it's before the money."

    "Anything that improves poker I'm for." (on online poker)

    Sunday was the 500 NLHE tournament (I detailed this elsewhere). After I busted, I watched the 4 remaining PSO'ers to their completion. Again, it was almost as exciting as if I was playing myself. PSO'ers were leaving in droves now, so a lot of good byes and see you next years were being exchanged. By Monday, there were only a few of us left and I spent most of my time playing the occasional sat, playing black jack and talking with FreddieBoy, JMuzzey, WildBill41, OilDoe, Win4Win, wstwst, RangerRick, Depraved, azhardballz, and any of the other PSO'ers that were still there. Mike Laing stopped by one of our late night chat sessions outside of the main poker room and had us in stitches for two hours (he even stole a six pack of soda for us - it was a bit warm though). I think he even stole someone's new lighter and replaced it with a used one he claims he had bought from Vegas. Another night, Mark spent two hours talking with a group of us about PSO, online poker and poker in general. Bill and Jay introduced me to the terrible world of casino table games (how dare they give me something else to try and lose money on) and I spent a number of hours playing with them (I actually won money, so I should quit now while I am ahead in that regard).

    My departure was actually fairly quiet. Jay, Bill and Freddie had left earlier in the day. I played a couple of sats, some blackjack and slept. I went up to the poker room at 2:30 and said good bye to the two remaining PSO'ers I could find (AZ and win4win) and took the $75 cab to Memphis at 3 in the morning. I was actually a little sad to go, the memories I made will last a lifetime though.

    Some impressions on people I met (again, I can't remember everyone, but I really did enjoy meeting all of you):

    Nolan Dalla - great guy, I was impressed that he actually remembered my name and took the time to talk to me whenever he saw me.

    Lou Krieger - also a super nice guy who seems very enthusiastic about what PSO has to offer.

    Mark - what can I say, meeting you in person changed a lot of my thoughts about you. You have a passion for poker, and perhaps I just misunderstand where you are coming from sometimes. You admit you make mistakes (all of us do), and you seem willing to learn from them. It was a pleasure meeting you and having the opportunity to talk to you (and on a side note, I think he's really tired of hearing bad beat stories (not from me mind you)).

    Tina - I didn't get to talk to you much, but you seem every much as excited as Mark and worked very hard to make sure the PSO group was happy.

    The Gold Strike and WPO staff - simply fab. Could not have been asked for better treatment. Free food, free drinks, great attitudes, you name it.

    ASTRO - you made me laugh so much that first night, but on top of that you are a wonderful person who really wants to learn more about poker (it's evident in the way you talk about it and are interested in it), even though he already plays quite well.

    AZHardballz - funny guy who almost talked Oil Doe into going to, well that's another story. Really got to talk more to him the last couple days. Glad to see you finally broke through in the limit 8 event (the man had some bad luck).

    Bruno - one of the first people I met. I liked you before - I like you even better now. But I still ain't scared of you, even with those shades on.

    Cardster - one of the highlights of my trips was that sat we played in where you verbally sparred with that loudmouth. You and your brother (TriSail who I didn't get to talk to as much) are great people!

    Cockroach - he even looks like a bug in real life (and plays like one too). Was great meeting you, like with Bruno, I liked you before, and even better now (and yes I know, quit worrying about whether I played that KK hand right).

    Debonair - OK, maybe I don't have quite the read on you in real life that I do on you at PSO. Yet another one of many super nice people (although I did see him spar with someone over a pot, that was amusing).

    FreddieBoy - Roomie #2. Yep, he's exactly what I thought he'd be like. Funny and one of the kindest people you'd ever meet. Not necessarily the best run of cards or luck, Freddie, but keep your head high - it'll come one of these days. And if you put a couple of beers in this man watch out (he told quite the interesting story about this one night with his father in law). (Oh and sorry about busting you in that one sat).

    gatorhb - oh wait, she wasn't there.

    Hammer1 - I had only briefly gotten to know you at PSO before meeting you here. It was fun watching you do so well in the limit hold em event and getting to talk to you.

    Indy Bob - you a nut man.

    jbh5000 - for a kid, you ain't bad. I take back all the bad things I ever said about you after that KJ hand - you can play (and not to mention, you're great to talk to).

    jmuzzey - I spent as much time talking to you as anyone. I'm sorry you came so close yet so far in the two tourneys, but I know someday I'll see your name at the top. The man puts the magnetic shades on - look out!

    muzzeyj - one of the first people I met, and every bit as much the poker player that Jay is (put some shades on and you might even scare some people). The Muzzey's are every bit as much fun in real life as they appear to be in talking to online.

    NewJane - like Indy Bob, you a nut. Oh and I didn't see enough ass grabbin from you, I am slightly disappointed.

    Noodles - Thank God he wasn't there.

    Oil Doe - one of the last remaining PSO'ers. You's a fun chick to chat with (and too bad AZ couldn't get you that lap dance, now that woulda been fun!).

    PocketRocket - this man still doesn't know how to play Hold Em, but I'll cut him some slack since he's such a nice guy.

    Pokergoddess - OK, OK, I'm SORRY I cracked your aces with 23 off.

    rggator - I met the gator. Life is good.

    Richie Rich - I feel lied to, he doesn't look anything like that comic book character.

    Ricky Hard - you's a good player Ricky, and like most other people, you love to talk poker. See you in May after the tax season.

    ronit f - perhaps the most aggressive female poker player I've ever seen (more aggressive than 99% of the men I know)

    Samz - I'm still upset you didn't show up.

    Sea Dog - thanks for proving to me that AJ is only a monster when up against me.

    Spiegel - girl looks good in her hat (and plays some good poker as well). Her hugs rate 2nd best to Bruno's.

    szura3 - oh wait, she wasn't there either.

    wildbill41 - this man has some gamble in him and is one of the crudest (and proud of it) people I know, but don't let that fool you, he's a softie at heart.

    Win4Win - always one of the crowd at the 3 am chats. Didn't get to play with you much, but I know you were sweating me a coupla times. Mucho appreciado.

    wstwst - Way to go Wendell, and thanks for the cash, I only wish I could have done the same. This man talks 100 times more in real life than he does online (and it's actually intersting to listen to).

    zipman - Roommate #1. Yes it's true. He has sexy boobs. I have the photos to prove it (OK, bad side joke there). Thanks for everything Bob, and way to go in the sats, I knew you could do it!

    Others who I had the chance of meeting and talking to (but not nearly enough). I'm sure I'm missing many, brain cramp.

    astrin1, be lucky, buschman, dbpbear, depraved, dixieland man, DocH, double eagle, goblue84, Greagar, gtholdem, jahana, keycon, lafem, Martan, mgportes, mick16, Penguin8, ponygee, RangerRick, Sailor Moe, sdkid, Shane, Shoeless Joe, stevieray, torax, tw41, zadvocate.

    In closing, thanks to Mark and Tina for putting on one of the more enjoyable weeks in my life, and I hope to see many of you all again.

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