Friday, May 31, 2013

There's Always Tomorrow

LAS VEGAS -- He's out. Playing six handed (or at his table it was five handed) is tough because it means being in so many hands. There was at least one pro at his table, and the guys all played aggressively. Tomorrow is Texas Hold 'Em No Limit but full tables. It starts again with only 4,500 chips, but it might be easier to wait out a good hand.

WSOP Six-Hand, After the First Break

LAS VEGAS -- As of now there are exactly 1,000 players registered. I'm not sure if registration continues or if that will be the total number. (Some players who bust out early buy in again, and some people just register late.)

Larry won a few, lost a few. Has about 4,600 chips. There are only 5 players at his table, and the chip count is fairly even, although he's probably a bit on the shorter side. Very few tables have 6 players.

During the break, the bracelet ceremony for Event #1 was held. Players had to be casino employees for that event. The winner was Chad Holloway, a writer for PokerNews. The winner's National Anthem is played for each event's winner. Poker is a sport, like water polo or ping pong. Somebody has to win.

Larry just texted that he got hammered on 2 hands in a row. Can't give up.

But in case today doesn't go so well, there are events starting tomorrow and Sunday.

Just lost another hand. Pocket jacks lost to pocket queens. Life support.

Welcome to the 2013 World Series of Poker

LAS VEGAS -- We're back at the Rio, this time earlier in the WSOP summer schedule.

The Main Event isn't until July, but there are loads of events before then. Today, Larry is playing in a 6-handed Texas Hold 'Em No Limit tournament. Six handed is nice because everyone has more room at the table. But it's also not nice because the beginning chip stack is only 4,500. It will move quickly and then, toward the end, it will slow way down. It started about half an hour ago. Total number of players will probably be under 800. (738 were registered by 11:50.)


Because play starts without an ante, a lot of people wait before they start playing. Quite a few are here in the "poker kitchen" dining area. There isn't a whole lot to win right off the bat, but Larry and I both feel like it would be harder to sit down cold, without having a feel for the room and the people once play has already been going on. Strategy. Everybody's got one.

Last evening we stopped over, and I almost ran right into Antonio Esfandiari. Vanessa Selbst was walking down the hall toward us, total concentration on her face. That was about 6:30 p.m., and by 8:30, she was out of yesterday's tournament.

Friday, May 24, 2013

WSOP 2013 Summer Series -- The Long Schlep to the Main Event Begins

PITTSBURGH -- This year's Las Vegas WSOP schedule includes 62 events, culminating with the Main Event beginning on Saturday, July 6. Way before that final, big show, Event #1 starts on Wednesday, May 29. Larry will be playing on Friday, May 31 in a Six-Handed No-Limit Hold'em tournament. That doesn't mean that we will be living in Las Vegas all summer. He's going to try some smaller tournaments early, and then he'll decide whether to go back for the Main Event.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Conflict Kitchen -- Iranian Takeout

PITTSBURGH -- The Conflict Kitchen, a one-of-a-kind take-out restaurant, is now open for business in Schenley Plaza, between Pitt and CMU and near the Carnegie Library and Museums. What is it?

( What started as an experimental public art project, the Conflict Kitchen is pretty much what you would think. It's a take-out restaurant that only serves cuisine from countries with which the United States is in conflict. Right now, it's serving Iranian food. The focus changes every six months and has included Venezuelan, Afghan, and Cuban food. Next up is North Korean.

In addition to the food, films, performances and discussion events augment the focus on each new country's food.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Prison State of Mind

PHILADELPHIA -- My novel, Prisoner 88, due to be released on August 1, 2013, is set at the Old Idaho Penitentiary, built in the 1880s and closed in the 1970s. While I was in Philadelphia recently, I got a chance to tour the Eastern State Penitentiary. It's much larger than the Old Pen, but I would not have wanted to be locked up in either place. Ever.

Eastern State Penitentiary
The Eastern State Penitentiary has been closed since 1970. It was abandoned and left to decay. The ultimate haunted house of horrors.

Al Capone spent time at the Eastern State Pen. His cell was a bit more like home:

A local photographer, Mark Perrott, spent 4 years photographing the Eastern State Penitentiary. He has an exhibit at Pittsburgh Filmmakers right now that is photos of yet another prison, Western Penitentiary, here in Pittsburgh. (I never imagined I'd be a penitentiary groupie.) Check out his exhibit at