by Wil Wheaton
There are a million people* in the Amazon room today, as another $1500 no-limit hold'em event gets underway. As Otis wrote earlier, we have a ton of players in the field today who used their W$ or FPPs to buy in, and many of them are certainly hoping to follow in the footsteps of Jon "pokertrip" Freidberg and collect a bracelet. In addition to our online qualifiers, Team PokerStars is well represented, even though we recently lost Isabelle Mercier.
"It is like a zoo tournament in there," she said as she walked into the suite.
Otis and I were on the couch, planning out our Main Event Coverage. He looked up and said, "A zoo?"
"Yes, you know, it is like the zoo!" She laughed, "too many people going 'pop pop pop' when they bust out like popcorn." She made little popping motions with her hands.
Pauly came in to talk with Otis, and they headed out into the hallway, leaving me alone with Miss No Mercy herself. I tried to stay focused on my work.
"Did you write about my final table in event number nine?" She said.
"I'm pretty sure I didn't," I said. "I think Otis did that before I got out here."
"Oh no, I know for sure that you wrote about me. It said 'by Wil Wheaton.'"
For the rest of this story, to adequately describe how Isabelle made me blush, I'm going to have to use degrees of blushing: When Isabelle walks into the room, I immediately go to three. When she talks to me, I'm up to five. When she remembers my name and something I wrote, I'm up to nine.
She walked over to one of the other laptops we have open here in the PokerStars suite, and switched from the PokerStars.net client to a web-browser, while I stayed on the couch and made some notes.
"Okay, here it is!" She said. "At Cardsquad, you wrote 'Okay, I'll admit it: I positively adore Isabelle Mercier. It's not just because she's beautiful, or because she is a deadly good poker player . . .'
Busted. I blushed up to ten.
"I love it very much that you say I am 'deadly good poker player,'" she said.
"Well, it's easy to write that, because it's true," I said.
She smiled at me and said, "Okay, you also wrote about Bahamas on your blog wilwheaton.net, and I want to know what a word means."
We fired up my blog, and I searched for Mercier.
"Okay," she said. "Here, in this entry about the Bahamas."
She scrolled down, and read, " . . .we walked with Greg, Joe, Isabelle Mercier (sigh), Lee Jones, and several of the PokerStars staff over to the welcome party."
She turned to me, and I felt myself blush to eleven.
"What does this word 'ess eye gee ayche' mean?" She said.
Oh shit. I'm so busted.
"Well," I said, "uh, well, it's, uh . . . you know . . . " I felt a little light headed and the room began to spin as all the blood in my body got to work pushing the hottest blush my face has ever endured.
She looked back at me, as adorable as ever beneath a black "DEAL" baseball cap, and waited.
I exhaled and said, "Okay, this is really embarrassing. It means, 'I can't believe I get to walk with this beautiful woman,' you know? It's like," I put my hands out into the air, pulled them in and over my chest, and let out an exaggerated sigh.
"It, uh . . . it means that." I said. I hadn't wanted to just lay down and die like that since middle school, when I was Pam Hardy told Mindy Patterson that I totally liked her.
"Oh," she said. "So it's good?"
Oh man, can't I catch a break here?
"Yes," I said. "It's very good, and I am very embarrassed."
"I have wondered since Bahamas what this meant, and it bothered me so much!" She said. "but it's good? It's okay?"
It's sixth grade, and I'm on the blacktop at school, right next to the teather ball courts. My throat is dry and I feel like I'm going to faint.
"Oui," I said. 'C'est bon!"
I quickly changed the subject to the first thing that came to mind. "Are you going to play more events this week?"
"Yes," she said. "I am playing every day this week."
"Do you play cash games when you're not in a tournament?"
She thought for a second. "It is the bottom of my list when I'm not in a tournament. I first do my yoga, and go to the gym, maybe to the spa. If I play cash poker it's like ninth on the list."
"Well," I said lamely, "the 2-5, 500 max no limit game is pretty good in there."
"Oh? Thank you." She said, too kind to point out that just about every game she sits in is good for her.
See, here's the thing about Isabelle: she's not just beautiful and a deadly good poker player. She's also just so incredibly kind and patient and friendly and has such good positive energy radiating from her all the time, she's just the kind of person you want to be close to. And she smells good, which is really not important right now,
Barry Greenstein walked in while I was finishing this post. He told me that Phil Ivey texted him to come over to Bellagio, because the game was really good (read: filled with guys like me) but Barry got the text message one hand too late: he played a monster hand, and was close to the top of the leader board right after the break. "I think I'll double up, or head back over to Bellagio," he said to me, "and tell Phil that he texted me one hand too late!" So, uh, if you're at Barry's table for the next, oh fifteen minutes or so, you may want to increase your range a little bit.
* Number may be slightly exaggerated for dramatic effect