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August 29, 2014

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World Series of Poker media game not for the timid

Update, 5:45 p.m.

Steve Silver here... Well, it's all over for team lasvegassun.com. I made it to the final two tables and finished 14th overall with a string of bad luck or perhaps bad plays.

First I doubled up some bloke next me when I called his all in move. I had Ace-ten, he had pocket deuces. The deuces held up. Fully on tilt, I went all in again when I paired queens on the board. Unfortunately my time came to an end when an Italian player with a thick accent turned over pocket kings.

The highlight of the day was bluffing Dennis Phillips out of a pot when I moved all in with nine-four and he folded.

Another cool moment was knocking out a writer from ESPN.com. The announcer bellowed, "Las Vegas Sun dot com, damn. His dot com must be bigger than yours."

At the end of the day this was all for the support of the Nevada Cancer Institute. I guess Rob, Ryan and I will just stick to writing from here on out.

Update, 4:15 p.m.

Well, our strongest team member -- Steve Silver -- has made it to the final three tables with a chip count of roughly 16,000 (all players started with 3,000). Sitting at his table is Dennis Phillips, a well-known pro who was in the WSOP Main Event final table a year ago.

Yours truly (Ryan speaking now) was done at about 2:15 p.m.

With Ace-3 of hearts dealt my way, I couldn't resist calling someone else's all-in to my left as two hearts came out on the flop. Also playing a straight draw, safe to say I was humbly dispatched two cards later.

Some of us weren't born to be poker pros. I would be one of the billions.

2:48 p.m.

So what is big-time poker really like, in the Rio ballrooms with hundreds of tables and under the blistering kliegs and next to snarling foes who jump on your every tell?

Someone else will have to fill you in on that experience.

My poker career lasted all of two hands, less than two hours ago, in an event staged for nearly 200 media members.

It was designed as a team experience, three to a media organization. So Steve Silver enlisted Ryan Greene and myself to comprise “lasvegassun.com.”

We had spiffy red Dream Team button-down jerseys, with thin white stripes across each shoulder, given to us. Perfect, I thought, with my fitted red San Diego State cap.

Meandering our way to the ballroom, I stopped and asked Greene. Hey, who do I look like? I go 6-5 and about 215, and I made a pitcher’s motion. Uh, Greene said, Stephen Strasburg, maybe.

He took the bait. Yeah, he added, if Strasburg threw a 55-mph fastball.

Anyway, on to the cards. There wasn’t much to my story, so I have to add some peripheral information. At my A table, there was a guy who looked like David Crosby.

I asked a woman with a British accent where she’s from. London, she said. Who’s your football team? I said. I live in Barcelona, she said. Ahh, I said. Barcelona. Beautiful.

And out comes the first deal. I get a 10 and a 4. What, do I drive an 18-wheeler? That’s an easy fold. Someone with two aces takes the meager pot before it gets to the river.

Then I get a queen and jack, off-suited. Heck, of my 3,000 in chips. I can afford to match the big blind of 50. A queen and a jack are among the flop, and someone bets 200.

I bet, and another guy goes all in. Queens and jacks? Yeah, I’m in. And he shows his two hidden jacks. A queen doesn’t come up, so it’s an early end to my poker career.

Until then, my history with the game consisted of amateur games with friends and a current Tuesday night game with assorted colleagues. It took about 18 weeks, but I finally won that thing a few weeks ago.

The best thing about today is that I wasn’t the first out – someone took care of that in about 90 seconds – and it was the right price.

Free.

Moreover, I crossed paths with ace pro Daniel Negreanu in a players’ lounge and he graciously signed the back of my slick red jersey. All it needs now is a suitable frame.

As for how to navigate among the sharks with the gray hoods and dark sunglasses, you’ll have to check this blog out later … when Greene and Silver report how they did in the event.

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