'Vegas, Here I Come'

This report by Ken Adams is part of a series for CBSNews.com chronicling his run at the 2005 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.
It's only hours until takeoff and I am psyched. I am scheduled to spend most of today at the American Antitrust Institute's annual conference. It will be hard to stay focused on the panels I am supposed to participate in, as the clocks ticks down to my departure time.

My flight leaves at 4:50 today. I plan to sleep as much as possible on the plane, and will spend the non-sleeping time going over my notes from prior tournaments in hopes of not making the same mistakes this time out.

I am scheduled to arrive in Las Vegas around 7:00 pm (PDT). I will grab a taxi to the Gold Coast, where I am staying. After checking in I will walk next door to the Rio to check out the tournament scene. If the lines are not too long I will probably play in a couple low buy-in single-table satellite events where you pay $120 (or $240) to play against nine other players. The winner gets $1,000 (or $2,000).

It would be nice to win the price of the buy-in for Wednesday's $1,500 No Limit Hold'em event. Mostly I just need to dust the cobwebs off my no limit tournament game, and get back into the rhythm of tournament play before sitting down in Wednesday's event.

If there is time, I will also take care of as much of the administrative paperwork as possible Tuesday night -– getting my seat assignment for the tournament on Wednesday, getting my press credentials, depositing my cash at the cage, etc.

I plan to get to bed by 1:00, to make sure I am well rested for the tournament on Wednesday. Usually I find it hard to sleep for more than 4-5 hours at a time at the World Series. Just too much adrenaline I guess.

In the morning I will check my office emails, deal with any work-related calls that have to be made, have a healthy breakfast, and head for the gym for an hour of exercise. Around 10:00 I will start getting seriously focused on my game plan for the tournament. I'll walk over to the Rio at 11:30, locate my assigned table in the cavernous tournament area (200 tables in one convention space larger than a football field), and take my seat.


As players arrive at my table, I will begin the process of trying to get a read on their personalities and playing styles. Do they stack their chips neatly and carefully, suggesting a conservative, risk-averse personality and playing style? Do they treat their chips casually and chatter away while nervously jiggling a leg, suggesting a more hyper, aggressive, ready-to-gamble personality and style of play? Are they 20-something, suggesting that they are used to playing on the Internet (where the prevailing style is fast and loose), or are they 50-something, suggesting that most of their experience comes from live play in the pre-internet era? I will have to adjust those first impressions once I see how they actually play, but I find it easier to start with a hypothesis and then modify it as needed.

At noon the cards will be "in the air" as they say, and the $1,500 No Limit Hold'em event will be under way. This is the second $1,500 No Limit Hold'em event of the 2005 World Series. The first took place on June 5, and drew 2,305 players! (I expect the field to be a little smaller this week than on June 5 – perhaps 2,100 players.) The top 200 won money -- a buddy from D.C. who plays in my home game finished 175th and collected $2,225. That's a $725 profit for 12-14 hours of play. Not much of an hourly rate, by Washington law firm standards.

The top three finishers were all accomplished tournament professionals. First place (and $725,000) went to Allen Cunningham, a veteran player in his early 40's. He is not one of the top players, but has been playing the circuit successfully for years. Second place ($352,000) went to Scott Fischman, a 20-something phenom who burst onto the scene at last year's World Series by winning two events. Third place ($232,000) went to David "Devilfish" Ulliott, a colorful and dangerous player from the U.K. who has at least one World Series bracelet and has made a bunch of final tables.