SATURDAY H H H H H H H H H H H H H
Three and a half hours after I fall asleep, I roll downstairs and find much of the crew, in heroic fashion, already up and gambling. We'd all been invited to play in the blogger tourney by Dantana. It is to begin at 10 a.m. I peek inside the poker room at Caesars. The line of bloggers is huge and unkempt. Picture the kids who thought Anthony Michael Hall was a god in Sixteen Candles. Now picture them at age 23 and buying into a no-limit poker tourney. Right. Horrifying. I decide to pass. All agree except for Summertime, another Batface, who thinks this is his best chance at poker glory during the trip.
The rest of us find the breakfast buffet and set records in hog fat consumed before noon, local time. Summertime quickly regrets his choice. "Worst decision ever," he texts us. "Sitting between guy with Gorgon breath and girl who just introduced herself as Jane100."
We head back to the Rio, where Zachary's tournament is about to restart; at three p.m., he is seated, and our large crew sweats him. While we wait, we play in some more satellites. I sit down, and in the first hand, I'm dealt pocket aces. Now, that's the kind of luck you need to get famous! I win nothing. Then I'm busted out five minutes later. I contemplate jogging back to Texas.
By the time I get back, Zachary's run is unceremoniously over. He busts out in 50th place and wins more than $9,000. A fantastic feat that makes us proud. But no one ever signed an agent for placing 50th. My goal - that one of us should end up on TV, become a household name, and give financial support to all of his friends - seems far-fetched.
This is the way it goes in Vegas - and in poker. It all seems to be going well, the bright lights and big chip stacks making you think you're on your way to notoriety and sweet coin. Suddenly, it's yanked from you, and you realize that the height of your experience involves random girls from Lubbock and men who call themselves the Master.
Still, it's many hours until my flight home, so we decide to play in the seven p.m. Caesars no-limit tournament. It's not a WSOP event, but it's poker, and it will help pass some time as I contemplate my failed Las Vegas trip.
There are more than 140 players in our evening tournament. I am tired, I am irritable, my Vegas trip is failing, and I figure I'll get unlucky soon enough, go to bed, and be done with it.
Then, an amazing thing happens. I play well. I never get unlucky. I somehow put it all together. I make the final table, I am second in chips, and I help broker a "chop" (meaning we all split the rest of the winnings), which nets each one of us almost $4,000 - even the three guys who tell the Caesars person filling out our tax forms that they are undocumented immigrants.
After I collect my winnings, it's almost three a.m. We play casino games until the sun rises, and then I head to the airport. As I sit at my gate, legs akimbo, head bent over, fast asleep, a line of drool connecting my mouth to my right kneecap, my last conscious thought is that I'm finally a poker star.