I busted earlier today at Planet Hollywood, but there were no fireworks or reasons to get my knickers in a twist. It was all pretty standard stuff, the like of which I'll see many more times In weeks to come I'm sure.
I'd taken a day or two out from my schedule to rest up and regroup, and enjoy some down time. Those friends who know me more than just casually know I've had a fair few life issues in the past 12 months particularly. Coupling that with the fact that away from the poker table I've recently not been the life and soul of anybody's party, it's easy to see why a few days off can be very important on such a long trip. It's weird. Las Vegas is one big cliche in so many ways, but when you're a veteran here like me most of the stereotypes don't apply. I'm not here to gamble my life away on the tables. I've seen 90% of the shows and attractions, and I'm not trying to get every pretty cocktail waitress that walks by and smiles at me straight into bed. In short, sometimes it can be pretty boring, and not at all like people see it in the movies.
Having said that, I do have some really good friends and favourite haunts over here. Nice places to eat and a few spots to go where I find some inner peace and a little rest from my demons. I still think that one day I will probably live here.
Two such places are Mount Charleston, and Red Rock canyon, both spectacular natural reserve areas, and both a reasonable drive from where I live when I'm over here. Some of the hikes and trails there are just amazing to behold. It's hard to realise sometimes that the circus of the Strip is only an hour away, when you're surrounded by forests and waterfalls, and desert landscapes of incredible beauty, and sometimes can be in total silence with nature, giving you an opportunity to collect your thoughts and reflect on life should that be your thing. Most visitors to Las Vegas want the nightclubs and the buzz and the noise, but give me this any day when I'm not working. It wins hands down over queueing for a table or rubbing shoulders with a procession of fake people. Possibly sometimes giving me space to think all alone isn't such a good idea, so friends and special people are extra important.
My good pal Julian arrived a week ago, and is normally trapped over on the strip with a small window of time in which to socialise, so as with a few of my poker friends, it sometimes falls upon me and my experience here to act as a tour guide and show them a few Nevada places they otherwise would never get to see.
I drove us out to Mary Jane Falls trail, a hike up on Mount Charleston with a small waterfall on top. Both of us are a couple of old farts, but we always manage to have a grin between us when out and about, as we take neither life or ourselves too seriously. Laughter is important, and lately I've done far too little of it, so whilst I know he greatly enjoyed the day out and a bite of lunch at a mountain lodge, likewise it was a tonic for me to smile at stuff and forget my woes for a few hours. It was tiring, but was a good day out.
Later I met up with two great Las Vegas pals, Tommy and Aaron, who both work in the casino industry running poker tournaments for the big strip casinos. They are great guys, and consummate professionals at their jobs. I can't speak highly enough of them. We all arranged to meet and have dinner at Musashi, one of my favourite restaurants here. A Japanese steakhouse/teppanyaki bar that we've all been to many times. We know the staff and the owner, we know the menu, and we stuffed ourselves and talked shop for a couple of hours before our respective madnesses all kick in again very shortly and work starts afresh. Again, but in a different way, it was good therapy, and restores my faith in friends and people just a little.
After busting the PH event today, I went for therapy session number 3. Whilst some will raise an eyebrow, I like to cook. It's a time when I get lost away from the other crap in my life, and create something nice, normally for my friends. I could rattle on about it being how I express my inner self etc, but people might start being sick so I'll simply say that I enjoy it, and it makes me feel good.
Tonight it was roast chicken with marmite roasted spuds, and mushrooms and onions with a balsamic pepper and Parmesan salad. Not quite masterchef stuff, but I cleared my plate and made some extra for friends which I'm sure will get demolished in the next few days. Throw in a glass of two of raspberry sake, and it made for a de-stressing evening before the WSOP tomorrow.
Early to bed, hopefully an untroubled sleep, and early to rise for event 4 in my WSOP schedule, the $1500 Monster Stack which starts at 10am. Should be plenty of play and again I'm looking forward very much to playing. Thank you to the people who have been in touch in various forms, with messages on the updates and for the kind words and gestures that you send my way. I'll keep doing my best, and hopefully this is the one we go really deep in.