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Daniel - Poker Journal

Big Pimpin’ In Barcelona

28 Aug 2007




Let me just say, “Wow.” When I arrived in Barcelona I never expected the hotel and casino to be on a beautiful beach with all sorts of restaurants and night life.

I left the Philippines and had a flight to Frankfurt, Germany on Luftansa airlines. Now, you are going to think I’m a spoiled brat for this, but my lower back gets very stiff if I don’t have a sky bed. Apparently the lady who booked my flight doesn’t really know what that is. She booked me in business class which has a chair that lays diagonally at best which is really awkward to sleep in. I really didn’t get much sleep on the 12 hour flight.

When I arrived in Frankfurt I heard one of my favorite songs, “Kiss from a Rose,” but I didn’t hear any instrumental, just the vocal? Then I looked behind me, and it was ACTUALLY Seal himself singing to what appeared to be Heidi Klum’s mother.

So I took out my cell phone and frantically started taking pictures of him. Then I said the following, “Hey Seal, you know who I am right? I’m like, an awesome poker player and if you don’t know who I am then you really don’t know squat about what’s hot in America. Do you want my autograph?”

He looked back at me, a little puzzled, so then I was like, “What a hater you are! How do you NOT know who I am??? I was in a freakin’ Pepsi commercial, didn’t you see it? I’ll bet you that I’m more famous than you, what’s YOUR Q-rating! Mine is way high bro, you must be living under a cave.”

After I persisted he finally said, “Um, yeah, yeah, I know who you are. Weren’t you in that movie as a boy? The one who screams when his parents leave him at home?”

“No, no, no! I’m not Macauly Culkin you dummy. I’m KIDPOKER!!!! Man, you Germans must not own televisions or something…”

Ok, so aside from Seal actually being in the airport singing, all of that was bologna. I didn’t actually say anything to him. Imagine if that were true though? LOL, I can actually picture a poker player doing something that, but it’s not who you’d think.

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So when I arrived in Barcelona I ran into two young internet hotshots. One named Matt who is second in the online player of the year race, and another 21 year old German kid who I shared a cab with. These online guys amaze me, seriously. I ask them how many games they play and they say things like, “Well it depends, if I really just want to focus and pay attention to all of the action I’ll JUST play 8.” 8 games at once!!! Are you freakin’ serious? I can’t play TWO without getting a headache, but these guys routinely play 13 while doing their homework, ironing their clothes, solving Sudoku puzzles, and contemplating the merits of nuclear power as a solution to the oil crisis!

When I get to my room, I notice the subtlest things that intrigue. For one, there was a fruit and nut plate awaiting my arrival. Blueberries, raspberries, dragon fruit, Macadamia nuts, a bottle of champagne, etc. About 20 minutes later, ANOTHER tray comes by with much of the same stuff… then a few hours later I hear, “Room service, we have a gift for you.” Um, it was another fruit plate, lol. I love that these guys do their homework and didn’t put any cow on the plate.

The other thing that I’ve never seen in any hotel anywhere in the world, was a “Pillow Menu.” Much like a Room Service menu, you can actually order a specific type of pillow to sleep on. How cool is that?

After a long, long flight the first thing I did was fire up the Jacuzzi, and poured myself a glass of champagne with strawberries and just looked over the hotel brochure with a listing of what’s happening.

After that I was inspired to get outside and see a little bit of my surrounding area. The casino is right next door so I checked in for the tournament and ran into Luca and Humberto in the hallway. I wish people knew what Humberto was really like. The whole “Chark” thing gives people the wrong impression of him I think. He doesn’t speak English all that well and is just trying to be colorful. Granted, it’s a little bit silly, but you have to understand that since he doesn’t have the language skills for table talk, that he tries to express himself in other ways.

So anyway, I decided to walk along to beach to a shopping mall that was supposed to be about a 20 minute walk from the hotel. What a beach, it’s just gorgeous. Restaurants with outdoor patios, people on bikes and scooters, everyone just chillin’.

There was one thing about this particular beach that was much different than your typical U.S. beach. The men’s bathing suits looked eerily similar to the female suits… in every way. As in, dudes in Speedos with no tops, and women with string bikini bottoms and no…. tops. I would say that approximately 30% of the women on the beach didn’t bother to wear tops and it wasn’t weird or anything. I think it only gets weird when a few geeky Americans drool and take pictures of all the boobies.

I walked the beach alone, just taking it all in. I was looking for the mall, but must have gotten lost because I didn’t find it. I actually got lost a few times but that’s fun for me. I enjoy trying to find my way back in a country where I really don’t speak the language.

I’ll tell you what, you should feel really lucky if your first language is English. In every airport or city you go to across the world, they cater to English. It makes traveling so much easier for those that speak English. Could you imagine, only speaking Cantonese and trying to make your way to Cleveland? It would be much tougher to get around, think about it.

My legs started to cramp up from the flight and all the walking so I decided to head back to the hotel. I didn’t “plan” on taking a nap, but it just sort of happened. Well, that nap turned into a full out sleep. Bad news is, jet lag’s got me again! It’s like 5:00am here and the tournament starts at 5:00pm. I don’t want to screw this up, though, so I am going to try and go back to bed at around 9:00am and get up around 3:00pm so I’m rested for the tournament.

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Totally random thought, but when you travel abroad on your own you tend to do a lot of thinking. I started thinking about how different me and my brother are. Then I started thinking about those reality shows like Wife Swap or whatever, and wondered what it would be like to switch lives with my brother for, say, two weeks. I think it would be hilarious and you’d see us both miserable.

You see, my brother really doesn’t like to travel, gets bored easily, and doesn’t like sitting down. As for me, I have three thumbs and get confused when given a hammer and a nail. My brother wakes up around 5:00am every morning and works HARD. He can basically build a house on his own and is a jack of all trades, learning from my father how to do electrical work, drywall, plumbing, and all of that “stuff.” I call it “stuff” because I’m so ignorant as to what goes into it.

If I had to fill his shoes I’d be dead meat. Long hours working either in the snow or the heat, it would kill me. On the other hand, my life isn’t a physical challenge at all, but I’m certain that my brother would go crazy after two weeks of doing what I do. Aside from the actually poker playing, the traveling, interviews, photo shoots, jet lag, etc. I think he’d totally lose it. We are so different I think it would make for a hilarious show. Don’t worry people, I don’t have any plans to do a show like that, it was just one of those random, goofy thoughts I had.


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