I won't bore you with too many details of the World Series. I ended up busting out the first day a little before midnight (play started at 11am). I'm generally happy with how i played, though i made one fairly large mistake when i vastly overestimated my opponent (or, possibly, vastly underrated him). That mistake brought me from 21,000 chips down to about 12K (everyone starts with 10K), so it by no means crippled me. In fact, as hands played out later, had i not made this misread, i would have ended up losing most of those chips, anyway, i would have played and missed on some other speculative hands that chose not to get involved in with my smaller stack. My luck towards the end was poor, as within 90 minutes i had three hands where my top-pair with top/great kicker on the flop ended up running into a set of tens...first guy didn't show, but the other two did...i think just to piss me off. That's poker. I outlasted a little more than half the field that started on my day, but that doesn't mean anything.
The (blessedly non-fluorescent) lighting at the WSoP wasn't pleasant. Because of this, i had to wear my frozen beauty eye-mask while playing a couple times. Before putting it on the first time, i noticed there were no cameras around. Well, it certainly didn't take ESPN long to find me, catching me as i began to explain to the people across the table why i had it on. Thus, there's a good chance i'll make their broadcast in a montage of players looking like the biggest tools at the WSoP. I highly doubt they'll show my explanation, rather just a half-second cut of me and my beauty accoutrement. Meh. I don't mind looking like an idiot, so it doesn't matter.
Other than the World Series, i played in a bunch of other No Limit Holdem poker tournaments around town. Irritatingly, these tended to have worse (faster) blind structures than online, as the casinos obviously cared more about getting the tourney over with than holding a competition based on skill. At one tournament, at the 40 minute mark, the blinds were raised to the point where the average stack had under 10 Big Blinds, which is generally considered the All-In or Fold Point. Basically, what this means is that if you choose to play a hand, you have so few chips that you may as well go all-in. This makes it a crapshoot, taking most of the skill out of poker, as it leaves no room to maneuver.
After busting out of 6 or 7 of those, i did end up cashing in both Limit Holdem tournaments that i entered at the Orleans. I liked these as the blinds were slower and most people haven't the slightest clue how to play Limit tourneys...employing a strategy nearly opposite what it should be. I ended up 9th in one (~$100 profit) and split the largest share ($920) with one other guy when we chopped the pot with 6 people left in the other. The downside was that the Orleans had fluorescent lighting in their poker room. Moreover, while the poker room was non-smoking, it was open enough that my semi-allergic lungs were bothered by the smokers 15' away.
I know this will come as something of a shock, but while i wasn't playing in poker tournaments, i spent most of my time playing poker in ring (or regular) games. I eventually wound up playing at the Bellagio my last four days in Vegas. The lighting was excellent, the chairs comfortable, the dealers and staff excellent, and, most importantly, there were many outgoing friendly and interesting people playing, especially at the lowest ($4/$8) limit. Though i was making more money at higher stakes, the people there were more serious and less interesting, so i moved back to $4/$8. I even made a couple friends with whom i exchanged e-mail addresses so that we can keep in touch. Including a Canuck! On Friday, in a weird, small world moment, i sat next to a friendly guy who knew my great uncle Jim really well. It was just plain nifty to talk to people congregating from throughout the world, sharing the joy of giving me their money.
My favorite conversation was during a tournament at the Aladdin with a fellow history buff from London. For 20-30 minutes, we discoursed on British history, concentrating mostly on Stuart and Early Hanoverian periods. We each knew a lot that the other didn't. Towards the end of this, the dealer said that in all her years of dealing, this was the "most unique" conversation she had ever heard at a poker table. Apparently, poker players usually choose to discuss sports, pop culture, and, well, poker while at the table as opposed to Elizabeth "The Winter Queen" Stuart's progeny and the Act of Settlement (1701). Go figure.
I had a few celebrity sightings. I didn't play with anyone famous (James Woods and T.J. Cloutier were at adjacent tables), though Doyle Brunson almost impaled me with his motorized wheelchair as he slalomed through the crowd at 12-15 MPH, horn a-blazing. I saw famous people at the Bellagio and Wynn casinos, though the only one i talked to was David Sklansky, author of about six of the poker books i've read and owner of the best online poker forum. I also had a surprisingly friendly encounter with actress (and WSoP Ladies-Only Event winner) Jennifer Tilly and her poker playing poker boyfriend, Phil "The Unabomber" Laak, while at the Rio's buffet. To save me time, you can read about them in my post at 2+2.
I did very little sightseeing, as viewing the grotesque gaudiness of Vegas did not excite me. I didn't see a single show, nor did i make it downtown like i intended. I have much more interest in people than places, which, conveniently, meant that playing poker all day was one of the more culturally illuminating things i could do. Really.