All thoughts and opinions are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts and opinions of Red Chip Poker LLC.

I’ve always felt that this is rather unnecessary. The founders of RCP are, for the most part, stable individuals who are unlikely to have any thoughts and opinions about the correct use of cat collars in poker, nor the optimal frequency of leaping out of one’s seat and yelling: “I am The Hidden Paw! Your Meow Mix is mine!!!”

However, in what follows I take a position that is contrary to thoughts and opinions of nearly everyone, and compound it by being rude about a Big Fat Sacred Cow. Consequently, the usual disclaimer deserves top billing.

The slightly surreal starting point to this story was a dinner party at which one guest had clearly stated beforehand that they were a pescatarian, while another had stated equally clearly that they avoided Mexican and cat. Both were therefore somewhat surprised to be confronted with guacamole and salsa as the unmistakable smell of frying chicken wafted from the kitchen. Perhaps in a desperate attempt to avoid discussing the menu, the conversation veered sharply away from food and came to a halt next to the upcoming World Series of Poker.

Doug and Comrade Vape were literally rubbing their hands together in anticipation of the vast fortunes they were about to amass in cash games over the six weeks of the series. Immediately I felt a rant coming on.

“I hate the fucking series,” I said, with genuine passion. And waited.

Whether Doug and Comrade Vape simply don’t give a crap about my heretical views, or if they simply know me well enough to assume (correctly) the tirade was already unstoppable is unclear, but since neither said anything I launched into my thesis with a vigor I usually reserve for Trap-Neuter-Release advocacy.

Here’s the thing.

While I accept that I exhibit one or two minor idiosyncrasies, I am for the most part a quintessential low-limit Vegas grinder. I play in tourist-heavy games in whichever room I can find them, at times when the aforementioned tourists are over-tired or drunk. Preferably both. The heart of this simple plan is to use my limited poker skills against recreational players who have assigned a budget for money they can lose at the poker tables. My job is to ensure that budget is used to the fullest so that the poor dears can go to bed to get the rest they so clearly need.

There are some seasonal variations in the efficacy of this plan, but for the most part it works well. Except during June and most of July when poker in Vegas becomes, in my opinion, a complete fucking nightmare.

I’d like to provide some background to all this, but rather than a detailed history lesson let me offer an illustrative example. The first thing you notice when watching the 1997 WSOP main event final table is that the table and those around it are outside. You may wonder how this is possible given that the WSOP begins in the Vegas summer and ends in our fifth season, “ultra-summer”.

Well kittens, back before one of the military wings of the Caesars corporation acquired the WSOP, the series ran from mid-April to mid-May; that is, at a time when people actually want to be in Vegas. The weather is so beautiful that the 1997 final table was held outside Binion’s, and while it is true that  some of the contenders look a little… er… “twitchy,” most poker historians attribute this to cocaine use rather than heat rash [1].

So what happened? At some point it gets a little tricky to distinguish between truth and fiction, particularly when I am recounting the story, but there is considerable circumstantial evidence to suggest that the entire Caesars coup d’etat was motivated by the seasonal problem of filling hotel rooms during ultra-summer.

It turns out that the only group of people crazier than poker players when it comes to extreme temperatures are pool players [2]. They visit Vegas in the summer, but only use up a couple of weeks of this unpopular time. Thus confronted with thousands of empty hotel rooms, Caesars brilliantly decided to force thousands of poker players to solve their problem for them by moving the dates of the WSOP.  Of particular note is that they located the series at that awful off-strip dump that mars the face of Vegas like an infected neon zit.

The net result of all this from my perspective is that most of the hotel rooms on the Strip are filled with poker players from June through mid-July, thereby completely eliminating any asbestos-skinned recreational players that might have taken advantage of cheap flights and rooms. So that when I sit in a game during this period, the giggling Ethel from Idaho who thinks that everything in Vegas is just “amazing” and who plays VPIP/PFR 87/2 is now replaced by some narcissistic nitwit with a nasal north-east accent arrogantly asserting at every fucking opportunity “That’s not how we do it at Foxwoods,” playing 22/17, and taking ninety seconds for every fucking pre-flop fold.

Just ask the dealers! They all agree the rudeness shoots up as the hands-per-hour plummets. Admittedly, this requires you to find a year-round Vegas dealer which in itself can be a challenge as the massive increase in the number of tables in action dilutes the quality of dealing to the point that you may actually witness a novice paper-thrower dealing counter-clockwise. It has happened.

“So sure, if you’re playing $5/10 PLO I imagine the series is a wonderful time to be in Vegas, but for humble grinders like myself,” I pounded my heart in the style of a tragic Shakespearean hero, “it is an unmitigated fucking calamity.”

I dropped my chin to my chest and my hands to my sides while secretly peeking to establish the effect of my soliloquy on my audience.

Doug had wandered off to the kitchen where he was prodding at the dead animal in the skillet, possibly hoping it would metamorphosize into a nice piece of haddock. Comrade Vape, who was still in the room, inserted his device into his mouth in a thoughtful manner reminiscent of an Oxford don and completely disappeared in a white cloud comprised of chemicals that are, I am told, totally harmless.

A disembodied voice said “You have a mental block.”

“Eh?” I replied eloquently, then added “It’s not a mental block, I have records! June and July are my worst months!”

“It’s a mental block,” said the voice, but this time more quietly, with a strange clicking echo on the terminal “k” as the sound slowly dissipated.


[1] It has also been suggested that commentator Gabe Kaplan’s monotonic commentary may have been influenced by Valium. “Still.. needs… a jack… [20 second dead air] Still… needs…”

[2] The fact both tend to play during nighttime hours adds, I feel, considerable weight to the entire theory.

  • persuadeo

    Maybe it’s a mental block.