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Monday, November 15, 2004

Celebrity-Spotting at Foxwoods
This past Saturday night Mrs. Cheap Thrills and I headed down to Foxwoods to play some poker -- and do some people-watching, since Saturday was the first day of the World Poker Finals, which is Foxwoods's World Poker Tour event.

I had read that the Foxwoods poker room was a mob scene with the WPT in town, and we had planned to get there early, but Friday night the House of Cheap Thrills was host to a somewhat rowdy little party, and I ended up sleeping til 2pm. We didn't get to Foxwoods til 6pm. As we walked into the poker room, Annie Duke was walking out. Cool.

The poker room was a bit of a mob scene, but actually not as bad as I feared. We had to wait in small line just to put our names on the waiting list -- we signed up for $2/$4 Hold'em (60 people ahead of us) and $1-$5 Stud (20 people ahead of us). I didn't bother signing up for $4/$8 Hold'em (200+ on the waiting list).

While we waited we scoped out the room. I didn't spot any pros along the wall opposite the race book, which is where I thought the higher-limit stuff tended to be spread. In the very back of the poker room, though, I spotted Barry Greenstein, and walked up to the back of sports bar/race book area, which provides a sort-of balcony-like view of the poker room, to get a better look. Barry G was playing with Jennifer Harman and, in a big beige cowboy hat, Doyle Brunson. I am enough of a fanboy that being in the same poker room as Doyle Brunson made the one-hour drive down to Foxwoods very much worth the trip.

Then B and I headed downstairs to the Sunset Ballroom, where the first flight of the first day of the World Poker Finals was being played. The railbirds had a real treat down there, since T.J. Cloutier was sitting at a table right by the rail. That guy is really big, in a way that just doesn't come through on TV. James McManus talks about how big Cloutier is in Positively Fifth Street, but I thought he was just being melodramatic! We also saw Erik Seidel, John Juanda, Humberto Brenes, David Williams, and David Phan.

Then we came back upstairs to the poker room. Our names had already been called for $1-$5 7-Stud, but we weren't yet in the top 20 for Hold'em, so we got back on the 7-Stud list and were seated about 15 minutes later. I was the only person at the table who didn't have gray hair, but that's OK with me. I'm planning another post on how much I enjoy playing 7-Card Stud live, but for now I'll just note that if we only played Hold'em, as so many of the people in the room did, we would've spent the whole night waiting to play. In the space of about 2 hours I went up $60 and then lost it all back on expensive draws (hello implied odds), and left down $1.50 (so I beat the rake and tips but got nothing for my trouble except about 6 beers).

B played 7-Stud for a little while but then quit to go back downstairs and watch the tourney. She spotted Cindy Violette and Scotty Nguyen. She said Scotty Nguyen was over by a merchandise counter they had set up, which was selling WPT t-shirts, jackets, and a few of those poker bobbleheads Iggy linked to a few weeks ago. Scotty Nguyen was trying on a jacket, and B resisted the temptation to run up, buy the Scotty Nguyen bobblehead, and have him sign it! She said it would have been just a bit too embrassing, but she probably also could've gotten him to call her "baby," so that plus the signed bobblehead might've been worth it :)

B also got a cheeseburger at the sports bar, and while she did, there was John Juanda, waiting for his food like anyone else. Kinda funny seeing just how regular Joe a lot of the pros are.

We took a final walk around the poker room before leaving. Doyle et al. were still playing, and had a bouncer of sorts so you couldn't go right up and gawk at the flop. Paul Darden had joined Greg Raymer's table (they were playing $200-$400 H.O.E.), and Amir Vahedi was standing around watching along with half dozen or so local yokels like B and I. On the way out, we also passed Antonio Esfandiari.

All in all it was a pretty cool Saturday night. Now that I'm done with with all my fanboy gushing, I'm off to grind it out at Intertops $2/$4 :)

Kewl post. Fanboy, indeed -- Mr. Superfan #27. ;-) So who looks more like TJ Cloutier, TJ Cloutier or my dad (now that you've seen them both in person)?
Owen, if your dad started seriously pumping iron, he might look more like TJ than TJ does.
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