February 26, 2011

The Ironman Approacheth

"It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them."

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I apologize for the recent lull in posting. It's been a pretty hectic couple of weeks, but I'm pretty well settled into the new corporate gig. I have now completed two of the three four-hour sessions of mandatory orientation. In eight hours, I have learned three important things: a) our company most definitely has a wellness center (let's take another tour!), b) I can have wine shipped to my office, and c) "corporate trainer" might not be an oxymoron, but it attracts them.

Soul-sucking corporate indoctrination aside, the new gig is looking like a good fit. Lots of interesting, friendly folks to work with, and several challenging projects already on my plate. Plus, I get a company car; wonder if I can trade it for a company wine cellar? Along with all of the hoopla over the new job (that's with a soft "J"—"yob"), I've also been helping my good buddy Shiz from the old law firm coach his daughter's high school Mock Trial team, which sucks another eight or so hours out of my free time each week. But, they're a good group of smart kids, so it has been fun. Plus, it gives me an excuse for the occasional Meadows ATM run with Shiz after practice. Shiz is a degenerate dice man, but is a mathematical whiz who I've been teaching some poker. We've played a few sessions recently, but frankly, despite several lucrative outings, there has been a notable lack of hilarity at the tables. Maybe the corporate gig has truly sucked out my remaining soul ...

Thankfully, there is always hilarity when the Ironmen hit Vegas, and those High Holy Days are quickly approaching. The official dates (selected as always by consulting the Mayan lunar calendar to determine when basketball wagering can be can be coordinated so as to avoid Spring Break and/or the Apocalypse) are Wednesday, March 9 through Sunday, March 13. Personally, I will be arriving in Vegas around 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, and staying through late afternoon on Monday, March 14 (at my age, I need warm-up and cool-down periods to deal with all the hijinks).

For those who aren't familiar with the Ironman of Poker (IMOP) competition, it is essentially a five day escape from Iowa to poker Mecca, with a healthy dose of prop-betting, Euro-tilting, and sports wagering thrown in the mix, all seasoned by a healthy dose of alcohol. Here are a few random events from past IMOPs which I have previously shared:
  • The Deuce-Five:  Wherein I felt buddy Sahara during the Aria tournament.
  • The Sherminator:  Wherein an annoying trust fund d-bag gets an ironic taste of his own medicine. ("I am the Highlander!").
  • The Beatdown at Bally's:  Wherein I am tackled during a poker game by a drunken Englishman who later is ejected with his buddy after exhibiting poor vocabulary choices near the wrong pit boss. ("Mum").
For the first time ever, we have the full IMOP crew returning, with nary a newbie in sight. Our cruise director, Santa Claus, has released the preliminary schedule of events, with a few highlights I can share with my loyal readers:
  • The "signature hand"—long a featured event—will return. For those of you wondering what a signature hand is, think of playing "the Hammer" game for five full days (albeit with a different personal junk hand), except your opponents have no idea you're playing. Snap a few Aces after rolling over, say, 6-3, and hilarity ensues. Multiply that by a dozen guys playing their own signature hands, and the anti-Iowa cursing can be heard up and down the Strip. Seriously, it is quite common to have folks at your table see you roll over a signature hand, and groan, "Oh, you're part of that crew?" This year, in honor of the sixth IMOP competition, the official signature hand for all Ironmen will be the mighty Deuce-Four, a/k/a "the Grump".
Santa at the kickoff drinking event for IMOP-V.
  • The Ugly Jacket Dinner will return, natch, at a fine establishment to be named later (Delmonico at Venetian is the old standby, but we've been venturing out to other classy joints the past couple of years). After winning it for three straight years, I stumbled to third last year. However, I believe I have found a strong contender for this year, and hope to return to sartorial dominance.
My winning Jacket Dinner entry from IMOP-IV.
Sahara is on the left, enjoying a caipirinha at Samba.
  • Last year's cheesy concert t-shirt contest has been discontinued; who wants to see Sahara rocking yet another one of his Michael Bolton outfits? Instead, the Ironmen will be competing in a "Mad Hatter" outrageous headgear contest, most likely coinciding with the TI tournament. This event will require a little planning on my part. On IMOP-II, I wore a red and black Mad Hatter style hat during a cash game session at Venetian, so I really can't plagiarize myself. Perhaps a fez?
Sahara with his prize-winnning t-shirt from IMOP-V.
  • The four official tournaments will be:  Thursday, 1:00 a.m. at Golden Nugget; Thursday, 2:00 p.m. at TI; Friday, 9:00 a.m. at Caesars; and Saturday, 1:00 p.m. at Aria. Given my general dislike of the Caesars poker room and the ungodly early hour, I'm trying to convince Santa to switch this to the Mirage late morning / noonish tourney.
Barbie pulls off the "Meat Tank" prop bet—saving a BBQ rib from dinner,
and pulling it out to gnaw on when his opponent tanks on an all-in call.
  • Santa has finally implemented a plan he and I have been mulling for a couple of years—The Third World Poker Tour. Ironmen will be randomly assigned—sentenced—to play a two hour session at some of the finer poker rooms in Vegas:  Tropicana, Hooters, Excalibur, Luxor, Stratosphere, Sahara, Circus Circus, Riviera, and Imperial Palace. Santa and I agree that one of the best parts of the Vegas poker experience is playing at some of the less-glamorous rooms. Most of the Ironmen are poker snobs who live at Venetian, Bellagio, Wynn, or Aria, and whine about "slumming it" at Mirage or MGM (don't even suggest Planet Hollywood, TI, or Bally's!). Hopefully hilarity, hijinks, and arrests will ensue.
In past IMOPs, the crew has roomed in suites at Wynn, Bellagio, and Venetian/Palazzo, usually with a discounted poker room rate. This year, many of the guys are continuing to use the Venetian as home base, but I and a couple of others will be using players' club room rates at TI and Mirage. The rooms will be cheaper, the quality is still good (after all, it's not like we need the rooms more than four hours a day), and there is no poker play requirement. Don't get me wrong, I can and likely will rack up 6+ hours a day at Venetian, particularly if they are spreading 1/2 PLG on a regular basis. But I do like the freedom to move around the Strip and hit up some other rooms I love (Bally's, Aria, Planet Hollywood, Bellagio, TI, Mirage, Wynn, and Imperial Palace will almost certainly merit a session or two each).

Anyway, if you happen to be in Vegas in early March, and run into some dunken Midwestern maniacs at the poker tables, you're likely in the presence of one or more of the Ironmen. If you want to confirm, just wait until one of them loses a big pot and see if they utter the magic phrase:

"Damn you, Erik Seidel!"


  1. I can't wait to see more pics. Have a great time!

  2. Your list of third-world poker rooms is OK, but incomplete. If you'd be willing to venture out into the nether regions of the city, you could experience Jokers Wild, Arizona Charlie's-Decatur, Cannery, Club Fortune, etc. But I understand time and transportation are potential issues. Near the strip you could add Terrible's. Downtown has a nice cluster, with the El Cortez, Fitzgerald's, and the Plaza. And right on the strip, you omitted the obvious Bill's and O'Shea's. Tropicana might not be open by the time you arrive, BTW. Re-opening date seems to keep getting pushed back.

  3. Glad to hear the the yob is working out.