Friday, August 04, 2006

WSOP = World Series of Parties!

I’m just back from a week in Vegas – the opening weekend of the biggest poker event of the year, the WSOP.

My friends at asked me to take the stars of the poker movie they’re sponsoring to a few interviews and a bunch of parties. Tough gig or what!?

I had a great time with Christina Morris, who plays the “bad girl” and Sheena Chou, who plays a spoilt Chinese schoolgirl in ACES the Movie. Rene, the Manager of joined us as well – somebody had to pick up the tab wherever we went!

I went down a few days ahead of the Aces crew since I had an invitation to the big Bodog party Tuesday night. I didn’t think there’d be a lot of people there since it was the closing party for their big marketing conference – and the conference had been cancelled. I must admit I was a little nervous about flying into the U.S. on a ticket paid for by an online gambling company, the week after the FBI had arrested some high profile online gambling executives. But since a friend of mine had flown to Las Vegas from London the day before with no hassles, and since he would be a much bigger catch than l’il ole me, I figured I was safe.

No one that I talked to in the gambling business had had any trouble at the airport, by the way. But everyone had black tape over any “dot com” they had on the t-shirts and baseball caps they wore to advertise their sites. And I heard that a couple of gambling site operators were arrested during the big poker expo at the Rio. So legal issues were definitely on people’s minds…

Anyway, the Bodog party was packed. It was at one of the trendiest clubs on the Strip: Tao at The Venetian. There were naked or half naked women everywhere but the coolest spectacle were the Chinese acrobats, I thought.

Before my girls arrived from L.A., I went to a press conference at The Palms. Did you hear? They entered a trained chimpanzee in the WSOP! They made the rounds of Good Morning America and whatnot but the WSOP would have no part of it. Last I saw of Mikey, he was partying at the Bluff Magazine party I went to at the Hard Rock my last night in Vegas.

I’d scored an invitation to Howard and Suzie Lederer’s private WSOP party for Thursday night. I also wanted to take Christina and Sheena to the party at the New York New York Hotel. Both events started at six and the girls’ plane landed at 5:50. I asked them to be dressed to party when they got on the plane but, well, chicks… go figger…

We arrived at the party a half hour after it was supposed to have ended. Cool group. Pocket5s is a huge online community of poker players – they all knew each other by their screen names – they’d never met in person but knew each other pretty well. There were a few geeks in the crowd I guess, but mostly a pretty cool bunch of guys. (All guys... the only women there were with me!)

Then we bolted out to the suburbs of Las Vegas to a small Greek restaurant where Howard Lederer and a whole bunch of other poker legends were in the midst of a fiercely competitive karaoke contest. We gorged on an amazing Greek buffet while Phil Gordon belted out “If I can make it there I’ll make it anywhere…” I was chatting with Lisa Mueller (almost as hot as the two hotties I’d arrived with!) when Gordon started peeling off his clothes. Clearly he’d stop at nothing to take this prize! When he started wiggling his bare butt at the judges, Christina couldn’t resist. She ran up on stage and stuffed a ten-dollar bill down Gordon’s underwear.

I assume he won. We actually took off back to the Strip – but not until Christina and Rene threw back a few whiskey shooters. Fortified, we were off to the Venetian where Sheena wanted to play some cards and Rene and Christina wanted to party.

Sheena broke even at Blackjack that night. Rene and Christina met Tara Reid from American Pie. I was asleep in my room before they were up the elevator I’m sure.

Christina made it through a 10 a.m. telephone interview with a magazine writer in the UK – but she spent the next four hours puking, paying for the previous night’s partying. Let’s just say she was a little late for her next interview… Rene was totally unsympathetic of course – we had places to go, people to see! Autographs, interviews, cameras flashing – we eventually retired to the WSOP Kitchen, a sweltering tent in the parking lot behind the convention center where, inside, thousands of wannabe Moneymakers were competing in the main event, the World Series of Poker.

After Christina’s millionth mad dash to the ladies’ room, Rene finally relented and we took the girls back to the Mirage for a quiet night in their room.

Next night we all went to Bluff Rocks at the Hard Rock Hotel. My friend Michael Caselli had organized the event and he asked me to help. I ended up at the front door all night. My job was to spot celebrities, usher them into the club and in front of the row of cameras and reporters, and then escort them up to the VIP lounge. Most of the celebrities were easy to spot – they were NBA stars that towered above the rest of us. Highlights for me were meeting poker legend Doyle Brunson, having a beer with the PokerShare monkey, and congratulating Lance Bass on his recent People Magazine headlines.

Las Vegas is surreal at the best of times, but WSOP is waaaaaay over the top even for Vegas. The energy level around the Rio, where the Championship Tournament and the Poker Life Expo were happening, was sky high. It was both exhilarating and exhausting.

Sheena and Christina have a blog with their own version of the weekend and lots of pics. Have a look:

There. I did it. I vowed I’d write about taking the stars of’s poker movie to the WSOP without mentioning the one thing that absolutely everyone was talking about: the weather. It was HOT! In every sense of the word.

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