Vegas, baby!

06:03 Clive arrives to pick me up. The Wife had got involved and was fretting about the M25 so instructed Clive to pick me up at 6 instead of the 6.30 we had agreed. As younger men we would have fought that outrageous intrusion on our considered planning and hurtful slur on our impeccable timekeeping. As older men we just said “yes dear” and Clive was three minutes late in a small act of defiance.

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06:25 Clive has an extraordinarily relaxed and positive approach to life. He seems to worry about nothing, except missing his flight to Vegas. He explains that poker has changed him – years of concealing his emotions has made him less able to express them. I just thought he had got more boring in middle age.

08:16 Simon joins us at check in. He comments on my shorts but he’s just bought some new Converse in a bizarre beige mid life protest. He wanders off to the bag drop and Clive tells me that Simon needs managing in airports, betting me that he won’t have printed his boarding pass. Damn, I’m losing already.

09:11 Breakfast. Simon is looking about the most excited I’ve ever seen him. It’s like that Christmas he got the Chopper bike and our wedding when we placed him next to The Wife’s effervescent friend Lucy, all rolled up into one. But he’s not a keen flier, so orders two large vodka tonics to kick things off.

16:39 A stunning win for me, ungraciously received, in Scrabble Deathmatch 3 after FREEZES and ACQUIT cap a sublime comeback. I may have been helped by Simon slipping into a coma after raiding my back meds war chest to settle his nerves.

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12:28 Arrive 47 minutes early into McCarran International. Now we are in Vegas! Which is why the clock has just rewound eight hours, in case you were confused. Airport authorities seem to punish us for this by a 47 minute wait to dock at the gate.

13:51 Queue through customs moving absurdly slowly. They seem quite protective of their borders here, which is understandable, but they seem woefully unaware that my heroic mission should be starting in an hour. Walk to taxi rank in 43 degrees is like a scene from Bridge Over The River Kwai (I remind Clive and Simon how sensible their jeans are). Vegas is making it harder for me to spew my cash than I thought it would.

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15:32 Bally’s Shovefest! Registered over half an hour late but they had no trouble still taking my entry fee. Funny that – a theme that I am sure will be replayed throughout the four days. And off we go! Brilliant atmosphere, fun and relaxed.

16:11 Out. As is Simon. But the friendly final table seems very keen for us to rebuy! Oh go on then, this is simply great fun.

The first rule about Vegas is nobody talks about Vegas. I’m worried though – I’ve got two Whatsapp streams going. The first is the sanitised family-friendly one, and the second is for just me, Clive and Simon. I’m not great with technology and there could be cross-contamination and the wrong information will get into the wrong hands. Or is it, the right information into the wrong hands? Or the wrong information into the right hands? You see – I’ve only just started and this dual-stream system is already confusing me!

16:48 Out again. A spot of blackjack before the next tourney. Two great dealers and some extraordinary cards – we all win big. Great game, blackjack. Perhaps I should switch my challenge?

18:01 Flamingo. Buzzier atmosphere. And margaritas! Doing well after break but then Clive rivers the flush against my pocket pair.

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21:11 Planet Hollywood now. Like playing poker in a very loud and psychedelic nightclub. Table full of extraordinary characters and goings on. The margaritas have put me on the edge of a diabetic seizure – switch to beer. Good call Neil; perhaps the best of your evening so far.

23:47 A8 no good against hippy Tom’s AK. I’ve been awake 26 hours now and it’s time for bed. Manage to find the shopping mall next to the Aria but the lift won’t take me to level 2. Oh, this is level 2. Ner night