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Barry Blitt

The popularity of Texas Hold'em, the world's most famous card game, is waning. Before it craters, our writer and 10 of his buddies take a WSOP trip to taste the riches and fame other "amateur" players have experienced in recent years.

The reason poker has become so famous in the past three years is simple: One good run of cards can make you a wealthy celebrity. The problems with this get-rich-and-­famous-quick plan, especially as it pertains to the World Series of Poker (WSOP), are two in number and can be expressed as follows:

1. Poker has become so huge that, to win a tournament, it takes a lot of luck in addition to cardsharp skill. In 1971, the WSOP's final Texas Hold'em championship had six entrants. This year, it had 8,773.

2. Las Vegas = distractions.

Despite these obstacles, my poker buddies and I - collectively we call ourselves the Batfaces because individually we are unbelievable dorks - took a WSOP trip to taste the riches and fame other "amateur" players have experienced in recent years. This is our sad tale, offered in a diary to help you find a better path toward poker renown. Because you couldn't chart a worse one than ours.

On the cabride to Caesars Palace, an unbelievably literate and insightful French cabbie questions me about poker. "Vut is the seengle­ most eemportant condition, or should I say, character-eestic, of a good poker player?" he asks. "Aggressiveness," I say. He nods. Clearly,­ he has me pegged as an idiot.

I'm staying in the new Augustus Tower at Caesars, one of five hotel towers that surround the casino. It's gorgeous, with clean modern lines and retro-cool colors. I send cell-phone photos of the sweet digs to my jealous friends, most of whom will arrive tomorrow.

Even though I've been up since five a.m. and it's now near midnight, I decide to meet a friend of ours, a blogger covering the WSOP (which comprises 45 events over more than six weeks) and who shall go by the name Dantana. (All names have been changed to protect the Vegas-y aspects of the trip.) It's being held at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino Las Vegas, which is off the strip. The line for cabs is long, so I decide to hoof it to the Rio.

This just in: Walking a mile in a suit at midnight in Vegas along poorly lit sidewalks, away from the bustle of downtown, toward railroad tracks and highway overpasses, with about $950 in your fancy pants, is not smart. The blisters and fear will last for days.

I find Dantana, who directs me toward the area in the poker room where I can play in a few satellite tournaments; these are one-table tourneys in which you can win money to be applied toward full-­tournament buy-ins. (The big WSOP tourney we're there to play in on Friday costs $2,500 to enter.) Unfortunately, the cards don't fall my way. That, and I play horribly. I blame the blisters, the French cabbie, and my decision to drink water. I'll make none of these mistakes Friday.