This kid's name is Tyler Pendleton, he hails from Lubbock, Texas, and he won his WSOP seat in a $2 qualifier on Absolute Poker. When I first ran across him, he had about $120,000 in chips, and at the time this photo was taken, it was more like $190,000... though that's just part of it on the right. So what does he spend his time doing at the tables? Here he's admiring the autographs of Phil Hellmuth and Layne Flack that he's obtained, each on separate cards out of one of the faux WSOP card decks available in the souvenir shop. (The real cards had a different design.) Pendleton goes on to make a deep run, and even ends up involving me in one of his TV moments, a classic suck-and-resuck situation with Jonathan Diamond. Diamond made a miraculous Day 3 charge of his own, going from dead last to well inside the money, but as for the hand in question, I think you'll see it on TV. It was that crazy.
I mentioned daily Texas Dolly sightings at the Doyle's Room hospitality suite; here Doyle and Mike "The Mad Genius of Poker" sign photos for a line of visitors that stretched well out into the corridor.
Backstage at the Mansion Poker Dome. Well, not technically speaking --- but this is the Green Room, the off-stage waiting area where we
The most deserted bar in the Rio. This bar was set up in the exterior hallway at the end of the west hallway that ran by Amazon Room. Got that? It was on the way to the outdoor beer and food gardens, the exit to which was only a few more steps to the right, but people who went that way usually wanted to go outside and warm up or get something to eat. And for people who wanted to stay indoors, well, there were the free drinks available at the Bodog and Full Tilt lounges (to name only two sources) just down the other way. Ergo, dead bar.
One more from the Poker Dome Green Room. It's actually a large, separate suite of offices, with the Green Room proper to the back and right of the complex. Right up front, but facing away from the exterior windows, is this neat little mock-up, the "artist's rendition" of the Poker Dome set as it was originally designed. It's close to this but not quite exact; the set gives no clue as to the myriad of flashing lights that define the real set, nor, try as I might, can I find a miniature thermometer on the scale model that shows a temperature of about 110, the way the real set is once the lights come on. But from the "momma didn't raise no fools" category: After about forty-five minutes of guzzling ice water to try keeping from heat stroke on the set --- the other players did the same --- I finally get smart and order two bottles of cold water during a break. The second one, unopened, goes along the base of my spine, providing both core coolness and a little bit of lumbar support. No bonus points, though.
"Hey, I read your blog!" Not counting media types, this was said to me by exactly one player on the floor. (Still better than zero, so there.) The one? Michigan's Brian Cook, pictured above. He battled hard but found himself at a table featuring Annie Duke, and admitted to feeling a little bit intimidated by her presence. Unfortunately, Cook then becomes part of the story himself, when he suffers back-to-back bad beats and gets sent to the rail.
I write it all up for another site, keyed as it was by Duke's comment, "He did nothing wrong," which Brian himself never hears --- he's so frustrated by the turn of events he makes the second-fastest exit I see all week, after Mike Caro's. Funny thing, though. I stumble into Brian a couple of days later, in the card room at the MGM Grand, of all places, plugging away in one of the cash games. It's like everything else, I guess. After the WSOP, life and poker still go on.