Thursday, July 2, 2009

Las Vegas, July 2nd

First off, the trip went very well. I mean, I've had trips that were a lot smoother and more comfortable than this, but considering the 11-week-old we brought with us, I'd say it went extraordinarily well. Bennie was a trooper. Mostly a sleeping trooper, but that's fine with us.

A few random observations about the flights:

1. On the Linköping-Amsterdam flight, they gave us a separate seat belt for Benjamin that he had to wear, and an extra (presumably small) life vest. On the other two flights, these things were not only not given to us but the mere idea of a seat belt for a baby seemed ludicrous to the stewardess. I don't know what to make of that.

2. A BabyBjörn is a lifesaver for travelling with babies. Unless he was very hungry, he'd just doze off pretty much as soon as he was strapped into it. He slept for the majority of the trip, when not flirting with the flight crew and neighboring ladies. And some neighboring men. For some irrational reason, it's slightly more eyebrow-raising when it's a bearded guy in his 40s that goes "awwwww" when he sees a baby, and I don't think that's fair to paternal bearded guys in their 40s.

3. I didn't sleep much at all the night to Wednesday. The Swedish phrase "Travel Fever" has never applied to me before, or at least not for a very long time, since I've spent so much time on intercontinental flights all over but before this trip I was actually nervous. Nervous about the tournament, nervous about travelling with Benjamin and nervous about being too tired from not being able to sleep because I was so nervous. But when we got to the hotel, one out of the three of us was completely rested and his internal clock told him it was morning. It was not me or Lori. Damn you, BabyBjörn.

Also, we were checked into a (the?) Monaco Suite at the hotel. And because of that, I need to apologize to Party Poker for accusing them of sticking a 100% profit margin on booking the hotel using Party Points. However, I feel little of the blame for the misunderstanding is on me given that I directly asked them if they were booking a suite and they didn't answer. I also asked the same question of the Monte Carlo Hotel staff and they answered "no." So my assumption that the price was ridiculous made sense. Now is no time to be results-oriented in other words.


This morning, local time, we - or more correctly, Lori - woke up because the room next door had an alarm that went off at 6 a.m. At 6:10, it was still going strong and it was at that point that Lori poked me and asked me if I could hear it, too. After being poked (and woken) I could. After that I tried calling the front desk to have them send someone up to turn it off, but I sat for 10 minutes listening to modern classics waiting for someone to pick up the phone at the front desk. After that I gave up, got up, got dressed and headed down to ask someone about it directly. They'd send someone up they said. Fine. I head back up for another 20 minutes of "BEEP-BEEP-BEEP-BEEP" before someone turned it off. Sleeping before it was off was not an option. And by now, hunger had reared its ugly head and told me that if I could forget about any attempts to take a nap before eating something. So we got dressed and headed down to try to find the breakfast buffet, which apparently was not included with the room and cost $25 for the two of us. That's alright. Good buffet.

Here, I want to make a brief digression and talk about how Las Vegas buildings are designed. This was first discovered by us at the airport, when we noticed that at any point at the airport where people could conceivably be believed to stand still for more than 10 seconds, there were slot machines. By the baggage claim. By the restaurants. Outside the bathrooms (hey, maybe you're waiting for your husband while he's taking a dump - why not push a few quarters in?). And there is an area of slot machines between the front desk of the hotel and the elevators. And, which we found this morning, in order to get to the breakfast buffet you have to walk through the entire casino. And it's a big casino.

From a functional point of view, this is bad design. Hotel guests would of course like to get to the elevators and quickly as possible and to the breakfast buffet as quickly as possible. But the hotel has no qualms about giving you as many chances as humanly possible to gamble on your way there. In fact, the casino is oblong; it follows you as you walk to the buffet. A more space efficient way to cram that many slot machines in would have been a square casino (or ideally a circular one, but that comes with other architectural problems) but they're not interested in having many slot machines for the sake of having many slot machines. They want you to PASS many slot machines. The only way they could have made this more blatantly obvious would have been to build a square casino and make us zig-sag through it in order to get to the buffet. I would not be in the slightest surprised to find such a design somewhere in Vegas. The same principal can be found in IKEA storehouses. And the same idea is behind the common practise of putting the candy bars by the cash registers in warehouses. It just feels slightly more cynical when it's slot machines, but it's only a matter of degrees not absolutes.


My first day of play is now set: I'll be playing on Monday, and (hopefully) on Wednesday and then (hopefully) again on Friday. The "hopefullies" are there because I don't know if I'll be eliminated before that. Cross your fingers. I was informed of this when I went to the Party Poker conference room here and was handed my complimentary backpack, t-shirt, long-sleeved shirt and hooded shirt. Lori got a pink hooded shirt. We were also invited to a pool party they're throwing across the street tonight, and we'll try to make it there - could be fun.

Next up on our agenda is going to the closest convenience store we can find and by some stuff that we chose not to pack, notably diapers. I'll also try to finish unpacking so we can get the suitcases off the floor. Normally when staying in hotels I live out of the suitcase and never bother with the drawers and closets but because there's three of us and because we'll be here for 16 nights, I figure it worth the trouble. It's also incentive to make our entire stay here be in the Monaco Suite instead of changing to a normal room when Party's no longer paying. It costs us a bit extra but this is a pretty nice room. I'd have preferred a better view but you can't have everything.


I wonder how tired I'll be tonight. On a scale from 1-10, I'm hoping for an 8. Worst case scenario is that I'll be a zombie during the day and jetlag kicks in and I'll be awake and alert when it's bedtime. Hoping for the best.


Tomorrow, Debi (Dakota@Cardschat) and her husband Joe will arrive in Vegas and we'll get to meet them again - we met them last year in London. They're awfully nice people and we're both looking forward to seeing them again. Debi's excited to meet us too, she says, but she was also nice enough to point out that we were second on her list of priorities - at the top for her was meeting Benjamin. After less than three months he's already stealing the show. Spoiled little brat.


I've been wondering what is considered appropriate when it comes to meeting "celebrities" in this small world of poker that I'm currently living in. If I see Pauly at the Rio, should I go up and say hi and tell him that I'm a fan of his blog? Or am I one of about a thousand handshakes that day that he'd rather not have to go through? Who knows. I'll have to wing it. Maybe if I bring him a beer.

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