Finally have the chance to do the post about my first ever meeting with Tony, aka TBC, aka Tony Bigcharles.
I can’t imagine too many of my readers aren’t familiar with the legendary TBC, but for those one of two of you who actually need an introduction, here goes. Tony is really an internet phenomenon, having had a variety of different blogs with different hosts for many years now. They have always been hugely popular. Tony doesn’t have a permanent residence, depending on the kindness of casino comps (and yes, sometimes paying out of pocket) for rooms pretty much everywhere across the country where poker rooms exist. Tony blogs about his attempt to grind out a living playing low stakes poker (mostly 1/2 or 1/3 NL Hold ‘Em). The comments sections on his blogs are really unique. He has many fans, many followers and also many detractors, who are unafraid of expressing their disdain for Tony in the harshest tone possible. Tony is also well known for his unfortunate attachment to the Video Blackjack machines many casinos have, and for his love of mashed potatoes. I’ll leave it there.
And as I said, I had never met Tony before. I started following his blog relatively late compared to most of his followers. Probably started around the same time I started this blog, give or take. And although Tony was living in Vegas part of the time I was blogging and during some of my previous visits there, I had somehow managed to never meet up with him.
And it appeared that this streak was going to continue this trip. As I mentioned in this post, a TBC follower by the name of Koala (who has neither a blog nor a twitter ID I can link to) arranged not one but two tournaments in Tony’s honor for this summer. (Note, since Koala is from Australia, perhaps he can identify the big breasted, bosomy blonde bandit discussed in my last post.) The first of which was Sunday, June 24th. There was just one problem. Tony was stuck in Atlantic City and would seemingly miss both of his tournaments, or at least the first one, the one I could attend.
Since the comments sections of Tony’s blog had developed quite a community of followers, the plan was to have the tournaments/Meet & Greets anyway, even without Tony’s presence. So that’s what I expected to happen.
To the rescue came blogger Pete P. Peters, aka The Poker Barrister. Pete had met Tony recently in Atlantic City and very generously offered to buy him a ticket to fly back to Vegas (where he’s better off living anyway) in time for the first tournament. So Tony arrived in Vegas very late Saturday night, less than 24 hours before the tournament in Tony’s honor at The Riviera.
My day started with lunch at the BSC with Lightning. It was my treat (well, I paid with my comps so nothing out of pocket). I tried to invite Josie to join us as well, but she was totally unavailable to be reached by any form of modern communication. She doesn’t have Twitter on her cell phone, despite saying on her blog she would be available through Twitter while in Vegas. In other words, she lied. I didn’t have her phone number to send her a text or call her. Lightning did have her number (boy, does he have her number) but she didn’t respond to his texts or his calls. Now she later gave various excuses…her phone died, she was out at the pool, she was asleep…..but there was a rumor circulating that she had met the Italian Soccer team at a bar at Bally’s and had taken the whole lot of them to her room to “entertain” them—as only Josie can. I hope those soccer boys were worth the free meal you passed up, Josie.
So it was just the two of us. During the lunch, we began getting tweets from Tony asking where we were, what we were doing, and where the hell was Josie. We didn’t know the answer to the latter, but when Tony said he and Pete Peters were playing some poker at the Flamingo, we said we would join them when we finished eating.
But not without some drama first. By the time we finished our late lunch, it was so late that Lightning started getting concerned about Josie’s non response (you would think he’d be used to non-responsive women by now). Before heading to the Flamingo, he wanted to go to Bally’s and check further into Josie’s status. He was genuinely concerned for her well being. Was she just sleeping off a long nite (with or without soccer players) or was she perhaps sick or even in more dire straits?
So instead of going straight to Flamingo, I drove us to Bally’s and Lightning had security do a “wellness check” on her. The drama between the two of them over this decision on Lightning’s part has been documented by both of them, see here and here. Please note that Josie says she was naked and dripping wet when security called her. Also note that from what I could tell, only hearing one side of the conversation between Josie and Lightning, it was Lightning’s concern for her that pissed Josie off, and thus Josie being pissed off was pissing Lightning off. I was the only one of the three of us not pissed off. Other than that, I have nothing further to add to this situation, except to say that it appears the two of them have since kissed and made up.
We left my car at Bally’s and walked to the Flamingo. This is not a particularly long walk, as long as it isn’t 175 degrees outside. Since it was, in fact, 175 degrees outside, it did actually seem like a bit of a schlep.
But finally we entered the Flamingo poker room and before I could identify Tony from his pictures, Lightning spotted him or Tony spotted Lightning.
I wish I could accurately recreate Tony’s greeting to Lightning. I will do my best but I can’t do it justice. Although Tony appeared to notice me, he completely ignored me and started talking a mile a minute to Lightning. “Oh, I’m so glad you’re here, you have a car don’t you? I need someone with a car to help me out, I have to go back downtown to pick up my cellphone charger because my phone is dead and I need to charge it. I need to contact Josie I have my laptop here to lend her so she can blog from here but she didn’t respond to my texts do you know where she is where is she? And I’m starving to death so I need to go back to Four Queens I have a $40 comp there which expires at midnite and I need to eat and I can get some food which I can put in my refrigerator except for what I have to eat right away cuz I’m starving to death. And then bring me back here to finish playing poker before the tournament at the Riviera tonite.”
No way is that an accurate quote, but it is a reasonable facsimile.
I think he spoke like 10 minutes without taking a breath. When he finally did, Lightning was able to get a word in and said, “I don’t have a car.”
Tony said, “Oh, I thought you were renting a car.” Then he turned to me. “I assume this is Rob? Rob, you have a car, don’t you?” I’m not sure if I even had a chance to answer, as the next thing I knew Tony pretty much repeated exactly what he had just said to Lightning to me.
Again, he caught his breath and I had a decision to make. I had known Tony personally for less than 20 minutes, and still hadn’t said a word to him. Do I help him out and drive him downtown and help him with his errands? I really came there to play some poker, after all.
While I was thinking of this, I got to meet Pete, who wasn’t there at the table when we arrived but showed up a few minutes later, he was sitting right next to Tony at the poker table. It was a brief discussion and I got to find out Pete’s real name—or at least, what he said was his real name. Frankly, it sounds even less likely than Pete Peters (which of course, is a classic double phallic name, for those of you who like double penises). And can you imagine someone using fake names on their blog! Preposterous!
Now I had followed Tony long enough to not be even remotely surprised by any of this. Frankly, in anticipation of meeting Tony, I imagined a request like this, and I had pretty much decided I would help him like this if it came to that. Besides, Tony has helped my blog out a few times by plugging it on his site, and back when he had the more normal blog, adding me to his blogroll. So I figured I owed him. So I kind of considered this a “right of passage”. Welcome to the Tonyverse, Rob.
So I agreed and Lightning joked that they would look for my body in the desert. I asked Pete and Lightning if they wanted to join us and they both declined. I told Tony we would have to walk back to Ballys to get to my car. Keep in mind that I had not sat down since leaving my car at Ballys way back when. And now we had to walk back to the Ballys garage from the Flamingo poker room in the 175 degree heat.
Tony assumed this would be a quick trip and considered just leaving his chips at the table at Flamingo. I recommended he pick them up and cash out, we wouldn’t have to wait long for a seat when we returned. If we returned. Hint, we never returned.
So with laptop and dying cell phone in hand, Tony and I headed to my car at Ballys. On the way Tony mostly expressed his concern about Josie. It took me 10 minutes to find a pause to tell him what happened with Lightning and her. He was relieved. He suggested that if Josie was a guy, her lack of response could only possibly mean that she (or he, in that case), had picked up a hooker! But since Josie is a girl, he had to dismiss that possibility.
He seemed very disappointed that he wouldn’t be able to lend Josie his laptop as he planned. I said that now that Josie had charged her phone (or was charging it) he could text her and possibly drop it off for her while we went downtown. But he said his phone was too dead to be able to text. Then he said, “I could have you phone or text her, but I promised her I would never give her number to anybody, so I can’t give you the number.”
Yes, that’s right. Josie gave Tony her phone number, but not me.
We got to my car and headed downtown. On the way, Tony alternately was extremely talkative and extremely quiet. We discussed poker a bit, like why unpopular rooms like Riviera and Treasure Island have 1/3 no limit instead of 1/2 no limit. Since I had mentioned it in a recent post (see here), he asked me why I hate the button straddle so much. We actually had a very long, very worthwhile discussion about it. And yes, sometime in the future I will explain why I hate so much.
Once at Four Queens, Tony got me a free parking pass and went about to get his food. He took his comp to a Hugo’s Cellar, a nice restaurant there (well, it has a nice reputation, I’ve never eaten there). This was, I believe, the same restaurant that Tony took Josie too the next night, when Koala, Lightning and I were specifically prohibited from joining them. ((Edited to add, in the comments below, Tony has corrected me. The restaurant Tony brought the food from that he took to the room was Magnolia's, not Hugo's Cellar. But he did take Josie to Hugo's Cellar the next night. Both are at The Four Queens.))
Tony ordered a bunch of food and now we had to take it back to his room, where he had a very nice big refrigerator. I helped Tony carry the food and his laptop. Yes, I carried his laptop. I only point this out because Tony is known for his trust issues.
Tony put most of his food away and then sat on the floor of his room and ate his chili. There were also some French fries with it, that he didn’t order. No mashed potatoes, though. He did offer me some fries but I was still full from lunch.
Looking at the time, he realized that he had done the right thing cashing out. It was much longer than an hour after we left Flamingo. He kept saying how surprised he was how long this was taking he expected it to take a lot less time. I told him that pretty much everything one does ends up taking longer than you expect.
By the time we got back in the car and were ready to leave downtown, we both agreed there was no point in returning to the Flamingo. We decided that we might as well head straight to the Riviera. I could see from my “Bravo Live” app on my phone that they had a 1/3 game going, so we could play that until the tournament started.
Fair enough. So just as I was about to pull into the Riviera parking lot, Tony got another idea.
“Hey, let’s check out the new Ellis Island poker room. We’ve got time.” We had heard through Twitter that a tiny locals casino a few blocks off the Strip, Ellis Island, had just a day or two ago opened a poker room. Ellis Island has slots, a small live pit, but is mostly known to locals for it’s excellent food. If you ever go there, be sure to ask for the “locals special” in the dining room. A poker room was a new idea for them.
Ok, I had just enough time not to turn into the lot, and we headed to Ellis Island. We got there about 5:45PM. We discovered a totally empty “poker room” (two tables) with a sign saying that the poker room opens at 6PM! There were two employees there, one a dealer, sitting at an empty table and one a floor person—who knew Tony. We weren’t about to hang around until 6 and hope that people magically show up then to start a game. We headed back towards the Riviera.
When we got there, there was indeed a 1/3 game going on, and 2 or 3 open seats. Stump was already there. There was one other person already there for Tony’s tournament. His handle on Tony’s blog (and AVP, and Twitter) is CoolDave88.
It was a pleasure to meet CoolDave88. He is a gentleman of uncommon intelligence, great wit, brilliant insight and exquisite taste.
Yes, he is a fan of my blog. When he find out who I was, he told me how much he liked the blog. He appreciates the humor, the tits, the vagina mentionings. Also, he did say he enjoyed reading about my transition from a limit player to a NL player. Since at this point, only the four of us (Stump, CoolDave, Tony and I) were part of the TBC event, some of the other players were just first hearing about Tony and about our blogs. I was able to give out a few cards to some of the players. Dave told them about Tony’s blog and also mine, and briefly mentioned how very different they are, and how funny he finds me. Thank you sir! I actually am going for humor a good deal of the time here, some people don’t get that.
It was nice having someone selling people on my blog. It almost—I did say almost—made up for what was about to happen when the tournament began.
During the cash game, I did get into one memorable hand with Tony. And I’m pretty sure I badly misplayed it. In the BB, I had Q/4 and there was no preflop raise. The flop comes Q84. Tony was first to act and bet $10. I made it $30. Tony shoved.
My first reaction was to laugh. “If I call, one or both of us will have a helluva blog post.” I had Tony covered, and his all in bet was less than $100, I believe. It was an easy call. But for some reason, I tanked. I definitely think the fact that it was Tony made a difference for me, but I’m not sure how or why. I know I should have called, but I couldn’t get it out of my head that he had a set of 8’s. It was like—I don’t really want to lose a big hand to Tony, or for that matter, I don’t want to stack him, either. I don’t think I was intentionally softplaying him—gosh, I hope not, but for whatever reason, I just couldn’t bring myself to call. Even though I agreed that a call there—no matter what the result—would get me a good blog post. I guess the bottom line is, I just couldn’t convince myself he didn’t have the set.
So I folded. As I did, I said, “You have a set?” Tony said, “Did I need a set there? I don’t think so. I don’t think you’re folding 2 pair there.” Which is exactly what I did
It was a dumb play. So Tony, what did you have there? Now I’m thinking he had AK and it was a total bluff. Ugh.
Anyway, I took a little break before the tournament started, and by the time I returned to the poker room, a bunch of folks had arrived, including, Josie, her chauffeur for the evening, Poker Grump, Lightning, Pete Peters, Koala, Kingsmen (those last two I had met the nite before at the AVP event). Other Tony followers I met included Claudia, Seattle Irish and Ian. I know there are some others I’m forgetting; my apologies. Everyone I met seemed very nice, and it was unfortunate I didn't get to chat much with some of them
Lightning was in a foul mood, perhaps still upset with Josie but also over a bad beat he had taken right before leaving Flamingo. Pete & Lightning asked how my day with Tony went and I assured them a full report would eventually appear in the blog (and so, here it is).
|Josie & Tony from Josie's Blog|
We drew for seats and this was definitely one tournament where you wished you could fit all 20 (or so) of us around the same table. All of us knew each other or at least had the same frame of reference, so it was a total blast. Unfortunately, whenever we heard the other table laughing, it was frustrating that they were having fun we weren’t sharing in. I’m sure they felt the same way when they heard our table laughing
Stump, Josie, Koala, Kingsmen, Tony, et al were all at the other table. At mine was Grump, Lightning, CoolDave, Ian, and The Player Who Didn’t Belong There.
The Player Who Didn’t Belong There was a friend of one of the people who did belong there; Seattle Irish, I believe. But he knew nothing about Tony, his blog, anyone else’s blogs, or even what a blog was (not sure about that last one). He was a nice enough guy I guess but it kinda felt like he was a party crasher. He didn’t even know that Tony likes mashed potatoes. Furthermore, he was the first to bust out of the tournament, but did so so early he was able to re-enter, and ended up cashing. Somehow, that just didn’t seem right.
An example of how nice it was that we all had a shared common denominator occurred early in the tournament. On one of the first times Grump raised preflop, the flop came 224 (or possibly 244). At any other poker table that wouldn’t amount to anything of note. But at our table, especially knowing that it was Grump who had made the preflop raise, there was a loud, audible gasp, accompanied by screams, shrieks and laughter. We all had the same thought. Grump had raised with his favorite hand, the mighty deuce-four and the flop had it him really big. Someone actually took a picture of the flop—I think it was Lightning—but I don’t recall seeing the picture anywhere online. Grump led out, no one dare called, it was probably the easiest hand he’d win all night. I mean, if you see that board, and you know that Grump is in the hand, you just assume he has it.
Of course, The Player Who Didn’t Belong There had no idea why we were all laughing and gasping at the 224 flop, so we had to explain it to him. He was the only there who needed an explanation.
Grump was sitting immediately to my right so he had position on me. I already talked about a couple of hands that he and I were involved in in this tournament in the HORSE post here. And as I mentioned in that post, he busted out early and went to set up the HORSE game. I think he probably prefers playing HORSE to tournaments anyway.
I of course was doing terribly, as I did in every tournament I played on this trip. But we were having fun teasing each other about hands when we got into with each other, joking about how the blog posts would turn out. When CoolDave raised me on time, or thought about calling my raise, I just said to him, “You know Dave, I can make you look really good on my blog, or really bad. The choice is yours.” Jokes like that were being made throughout the tournament.
At the other table, Josie was running roughshod over everybody during the early part of the tournament. A few minutes before the first break, she came over to our table to see how we were doing. She stood behind me and noticed how few chips I had left. She tried to encourage me. “Rob, if you double up by the time I check on you again, I’ll give you a back rub.” Someone said, “How many chips does he need for a front-rub?” Heh heh. Or a repeat of the ass rub I’d gotten from her the night before?
I asked Josie if she had busted out, since she left her table before the break. She said, “No. I have so many chips I don’t need to play any more hands!” Ooooohhhh….that’s arrogance for you!
After the break, I did indeed double up, can’t remember the details. And from then I did okay for awhile, hanging on, hanging in, chipping up, staying alive as others busted out one by one. After the double up I tried to call Josie over, especially when I noticed she was no longer in the tournament but had somehow busted out—even with all those chips she had just moments earlier! When she finally made it over, it was no longer double what she had seen but close. So she didn’t’ deliver on the back rub. But that’s okay. After exploring my ass the night before, she probably was afraid that if she fondled me too much on this night, she wouldn’t be able to control herself.
I don’t remember the details, but I probably would have made it in the money, if I hadn’t somehow doubled up The Player Who Didn’t Belong There. I should have won that pot, I know it was a suck out, I just can’t remember the details. When we got down to four (three were paid), I was by far the short stack and since the payouts weren’t that much, I didn’t dare suggest paying the bubble (likely me). Since it was only a $60 buyin tournament it didn’t really make much a difference if I got back my buyin or not, especially since the tournament didn’t last more than a couple of hours.
Finally, with four of us left, and CoolDave the big stack now directly on my right, I thought I had my last decent chance to shove and survive. I think I had K/J suited, a monster hand considering my stack and that it was four-handed. I shoved. Unfortunately, CoolDave had AK, of course called (I think he actually shoved to isolate) and the King on the board did me no good whatsoever. When Dave called me, I told him, “If you bust me out, it’s gonna be UNCoolDave from now on.” He laughed. But he did indeed bust me out, and I did indeed call him UnCoolDave the rest of the night. I warned him that he would be skewered in my inevitable blog post. He laughed.
Truth is, I might be tempted to blast him but he is a heckuva nice guy and very funny too. And did I mention that he has great taste in blogs?
At the end of the day, UnCoolDave was runnerup (he wanted to chop but Ian, the eventual winner, refused), and The Player Who Didn’t Belong There finished third. That should have been me, really. At least I belonged there. It seemed somehow wrong that someone who didn’t know Tony from Adam had finished in the money. Oh well.
The HORSE game followed, already discussed here. But there was one funny moment from that I omitted in my write up. During the game, we were talking about the Riviera’s problem getting players, both for poker and in the casino in general. The dealer commented that one of the problems was how isolated the Riviera is, especially now that the Sahara is closed. The dealer mentioned that the property where the Sahara lies dormant will be reopening in a year or two under a new name. He couldn’t remember the name but said it had three initials.
One of the players—I think it might have been Kingsmen—said, “It’s TBC.”
That got everyone laughing. And by the way, Tony was away from the table at this moment.
I said, “Yeah, and the marquee will be a giant picture of Tony.”
I added, “And they’ll only serve mashed potatoes.”
Even more laughter.
Anyway, it was a heckuva day and quite enjoyable. And finally meeting Tony was quite the experience and quite a memorable one. And yes, it was fun.