Our leader is a man I'll call High Roller,­ whom I introduced to you more than a year ago in a tale of our group's trip to play poker in Tunica ("The Real Deal," March 15, 2005). He is the managing partner at a law firm. He speaks in a thick Southern accent and is smarter than you could ever hope to be. He is 20 years older and 30 times cooler than any of us.

High Roller arrived at Caesars at about five p.m. and headed toward his room. This may or may not have been to stow his satchel­ of cash, something I heretofore thought existed only in spy novels and Edward G. Robinson films. In the elevator, he happened upon two very young women, the sort most men find intimidating to talk to. High Roller has no such problem. The lasses­ told him, "We're from Lubbock, Texas!­ It's our first time in Vegas!" High Roller told them they should come to dinner with some "fellas your age" who can "show you the town." At this point, according to unnamed sources at Caesars, the guys in the security control room witnessing this exchange high-fived each other and bowed down before the image of High Roller.

So, sitting here with a dozen or so middle-aged amateur poker dorks are two women with long hair, sparkling eyes, and active MySpace accounts. This is insane.

I don't have long to contemplate the scene, though. Within minutes after I sit down, both women (one brunette, one blonde) get up and leave. Yep, still got it.

Hey, I was doing us a favor. Hanging out with beautiful young women isn't our scene.

What is our scene? That's right: the $10 craps table at Barbary Coast Hotel and Casino! We end up there until three a.m., drinking banana-flavored spirits and leaving the sorts of messages on hometown answering machines that prevent you from ever running for office. Go Batfaces.

FRIDAY H H H H H H H H H H H H H H
We all assemble at the Rio for the noon start of the $2,500 no-limit WSOP event, which means you start with $2,500 in tournament chips. I'm seated at what we call a soft table. No one is overly aggressive, everyone plays by the book, and I'm able to steal a few blinds in position, play tight, and keep my stack between 2,100 and 2,700 for a few hours. Then I'm moved to another table (this happens often throughout all tournaments) and seated next to poker pro Bill Edler. Great guy. We bond a bit, discuss poker and his hometown of Chicago. Late in the day, just before I'm about to move again, I get two queens. A gentleman with two tens goes all in. I put all my chips in, and I'm a huge favorite in this situation. But another ten falls on the flop, and just like that, after several solid hours of play, I'm gone. Done. Edler tells me I played well. I don't want to hear that. I want to stay mad.

Other Batfaces are doing well, though. The youngest of our group, Zachary, is sitting between two big-time pros, Todd Brunson and Joseph Hachem (winner of last year's big event). Zachary wanders over to me between hands and says quietly, "I'm killing those wimps." Now, there's the aggressiveness you need for victory.

There is an uproar at another table. I run over there. It's another Batface, a former golf pro we'll call Tiger, putting all his chips in against one of the best-known professional players, Men "the Master" Nguyen. Nguyen thinks for a moment and calls. He has a pair of aces. Tiger has nothing. He's done. But, like a lot of amateurs, he's almost giddy that he got taken out by a big-time pro. He probably should have reread Nguyen's quote from 2003, in which I've substituted one word: "I came to this country with empty hands. Now, I got everything I want. All I need to do is say, 'Call, Raise, Call.' And [Batfaces] give me their money."

Hours pass (spider rolls + White Russians = about seven hours). By one a.m., we're watching Zachary, the last Batface left, try to make it to the final 100 or so participants, meaning he will be "in the money." After a few more screams and yells in the poker room, we're ready to break with the 96 people left out of the 1,290 who started the day. Zachary is one of them. Even though it's now past two a.m., when he finds out cards don't go back in the air again until three p.m. Saturday, Zachary declares, "Time to party." Gentlemen, let's get ready to stumble.

We walk back into Caesars to play craps and talk poker with the one member in our group clearly headed for glory and riches.

Then, we hear an unfamiliar female voice scream at us.

"Oh my gosh!" she says. "It's the Bat guys!"

And that's when the girls from Lubbock reappear.

I'd like to go into details about the next three hours - but I have to save something for the gossip pages when I finally win a poker tournament and become famous. So all I can say at this point is, "Go Batfaces!"