LAS VEGAS – Phil Hellmuth made history yesterday by winning his eleventh World Series of Poker event – he was in a three way tie with Johnny Chan and Doyle Brunson at ten until he won a $1500 No Limit Holdem event. Here’s the official report.
I didn’t do much of anything yesterday – played some video poker (caught a royal flush on a half-dollar machine, Ka-ching!), watched a DVD, and backed a friend in the WSOP stud hi/lo tournament I’d planned on playing, but I still can’t pull my body clock around to sleep ‘til noon. Going into the second day, he seems to still have chips, so I might make some money there.
Played a $300 Single table satellite this morning, got very short stacked, got lucky, and wound up chopping the $3000 in buy-in chips with a nice fellow from Oklahoma. That’s half my buy-in for the Stud/8 event on Thursday. Now I’ll have to play.
Meanwhile, across the street – Having already seen Cinevegas’ glossy opener, Ocean’s Thirteen and then Zak Penn’s The Grand, a “mockumentary” about a big poker tournament with Woody Harrelson, Cheryl Hines, Dennis Farina, Jason Alexander, and Werner Herzog as “The German”, maybe it’s time to talk about the great Vegas movies.
The Grand is not one of them, though it does give “The German” one of the greatest lines ever on Vegas – and you need to hear this with Herzog’s Bavarian accent – “Las Vegas has no irony. Either you win or you lose.” (If you’re wondering what Herzog is doing in this, he starred, as himself, in Penn’s earlier mockumentary, Incident at Loch Ness, which I though was hilarious, though many did not.)
1. Casino – Vegas as the nightmare of modern capitalism. Scorsese is almost immune to the seductions of Vegas, his 1970s Vegas being claustrophobically constructed and never extending more than about a foot beyond the frame. (He has no choice, given the changes in Vegas between the events of the story and the time of the filming.)
2. Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas – Terry Gilliam on Hunter S. Thompson is a bit much of a muchness, but this is perhaps the most faithful literary adaptation of the past 20 years, and who knew it would one day be possible to show people turning into lizards in a casino lounge?
3. Ocean’s Eleven – The Clooney, not the Sinatra. Vegas in 1962 didn’t look like much – one looks at the occasional exterior shot of the great Vegas hotel casinos of the era and wonders “where’s the rest of them?” Soderbergh’s Vegas is a glossy dream of light. The caper is no more credible but it is a great cotton candy treat of a movie.
4. Showgirls – Okay, I know, I know, but no director, not even Scorsese, captures the pitiless quality of the desert light – When the sun comes up, you can see every crack in every bit of crumbling masonry.
5. Swingers/Go – Doug Liman’s first films aren’t exactly Vegas movies, but they both feature great, testosterone charged Vegas road trips, especially Go, which unravels its constructions of wild improbabilities back to the most improbable place of all.
6. Lost In America – Again, not a true Vegas movie, but a movie where everything goes wrong in Las Vegas – it’s the one great movie shot in the Desert Inn, and who can forget Julie Haggerty’s suddenly discovered gambling mania, or Garry Marshall as the bemused casino manager listening to Albert Brooks’ proposal that the casino give them back their money?
7. Diamonds Are Forever – No one’s idea of a great movie, but it’s got one of the all time great Bond babes in Jill St. John, and that wonderful, completely berserk car chase through downtown Las Vegas, which is about three blocks long and three blocks wide – watch it on DVD, use the freezeframe, and count how many times that chase passes the same places.
The list is seven because seven is a lucky number.
My bad – Apparently, my snotty remarks about the phrase “tennis shoes” was called by a couple of people who emailed me, so I went around to people I knew were westerners and said “what are those” pointing to my shoes. “Shoes”. More specific, please? “Tennis shoes.” It’s a Western US thing.