BLOG: Tackling “Lost Wages” with Vince Van Patten

Jul 12, 2018

By Vince Van Patten

Vince Van Patten

An amazing Season XVI of the World Poker Tour came to an end just a few weeks ago.

We wrapped it up with the WPT Tournament of Champions in Las Vegas at the new home to the World Poker Tour, Esports Arena Las Vegas at Luxor Hotel and Casino. Let me tell you, the venue is truly amazing!

The event itself was pretty spectacular, with Matt Waxman winning over an incredible group of champions.

With all the events we did, I was in Vegas a total of 12 nights, which can feel like eight years to the average yahoo. But I’m not your average yahoo. I graduated from yahoo land a long time ago!

My father, Dick Van Patten, a wise gambler, actor, and New York street-smart guy, who taught me everything I know about gambling, taught me long ago that you have to “use Vegas.”

What does it mean to “use Vegas?” It means, don’t let Vegas use you! You have to use Vegas!

The secret, like all the broke, contrarian gamblers like to say, is to go the other way. Here’s what I do.

I only play poker selectively and very rarely in tournaments, only in cash games. I want to play on my terms, and usually not for more than a maximum of four or five hours, win or lose. This trip I did very well and won in a sweet $10-20 no-limit hold’em game at ARIA, where I sat at a table with more fish than an aquarium!

Beating Vegas, Vince Van Patten Style

The first thing I do each day is I force myself to wake up at 6 a.m. and workout double time compared to how I usually do when at home. That puts me in the gym for about two hours, so I sweat out all the impurities Vegas brings like the alcohol, lies, and bad beat stories that I imbibed the night before.

For food, I force myself to eat oatmeal and blueberries. When I say force, I really do me force because I truly hate oatmeal and blueberries. I treat it like medicine, though, which is a trick I learned from my friend Jack Lalane some 30 years ago. True story! He told me he eats a prune and says, “This prune is good for Jack Lalane!” So I take after him and don’t eat the usual eggs and wonderful hash browns and ketchup that I usually have in LA and love so very much.

The next thing I do is I sneak down to the poker room where the WPT players are in action in order to watch the champs and my buddies in the tournament. I don’t stay for more than five or 10 minutes, though. Sorry, guys. I’m secretly jealous of all of you talented players that have dreams of grandeur competing for a major title while I’m on the sidelines. Plus, I don’t want to be a distraction or jinx anyone. There’s a special place in hell for that kind of kiss of death.

As the day and night go on, my schedule is filled with my usual meet and greets, parties, and schmoozing and boozing, until the next day comes upon me. I must say, it’s always a true pleasure to meet the always-interesting players on the World Poker Tour, both new and old, and I really do enjoy learning more about the ClubWPT winners who are thrilled to be at an event for their shot at the big money and TV time.

Oh, I almost forgot. I do love great food and I try to pick an amazing meal every night I’m in Vegas. When it comes to food, no place does it better than Vegas! One of my absolute favorite spots is Piero’s Italian Cuisine over on Convention Center Dr. It’s got class, and the vibe is a bit of old-school Vegas. I love it there.

Then I sleep… for about three hours.

Then I’m up… at 2 a.m.

Oh, no – no water!

Vegas parched and hotel annoyed, I stumble to the minibar and open up the box of enormous charges. I am careful not to accidentally touch any unnecessary drinks or snacks for fear of tripping the sensors and costing myself more than a big blind in Bobby’s Room.

Then I see it, like a diamond in the rough, a pond of spring water in the desert, a beautiful bottle of water glows before me!

Wait, it’s 10 bucks a bottle? $%#@! I curse the darkness and stagger back to bed in disgust. Still parched. Even more annoyed.

The next several minutes, sometimes hours, are left pondering a question known to anyone and everyone that travels to Las Vegas – “Do I pay the obscene price?”

Now, there is always the tap water from the sink, but no one drinks tap water anymore. They told us 20 years ago that it was a health hazard and we’ve all abstained. By the way, if no one drinks tap water anymore, shouldn’t that have saved us trillions of gallons of water? So then why are we being charged extra as if there is a water shortage?

I finally make up my mind and back to bed I go, parched and stubborn and waterless. It’s the principle of it all and I hear my father’s voice saying, “What a rip off!” and “Don’t squander money!” and “Don’t be a sucker!”

After two hours of a sandpaper mouth, I usually relent and hit the minibar for $30 worth of much needed liquid!

Then, I wake up early and hit the coffee. Strong. Extra strong. Usually double shots of espresso that I carefully mix in my regular coffee only when the timing is right. Then, I repeat.

With that kind of restraint and schedule, I can last through Vegas for 12 days with just a few black bags under my eyes, some coffee breath, and some personal pride of surviving “Lost Wages” with all the odds stacked against me. I like to think of this as my “Vegas edge” and I certainly don’t want to be considered the sucker.

What’s Next for Vince?

I’m now back in LA and ready for Season XVII of the World Poker Tour! Although I’m missing my great friend Mike Sexton, of course, I’m really enjoying my new friendship with my cohost Tony Dunst. This young guy is very smart and very personable, and together we have a lot of laughs and the dynamic is terrific!

Before I am back on the road with our opening events of Season XVII, I’m finishing up on the movie that I wrote and produced, so I might as well tell you a little bit about it. It’s called Walk to Vegas, and it’s always been my dream to write a great gambling and hustling movie. This movie is based on the true story of the rise and fall of my real-life high-stakes poker game back in LA, which I started in the early 90s.

I brought in my co-writing partner, Steve Alper, and we finished filming it and are now in the final stages of post-production. I’m anxious for you all to see it! We will probably do some major film festivals, then, hopefully, in about six to eight months it will hit the theaters. I hope you’ll think it’s one of the best gambling films in quite some time.

For now, you can go to WalkToVegas.com to take a peek at who’s in the film and see the trailer.

More Blogs Coming from Vince Van Patten

Next time I will tell you about my other Las Vegas secrets, like my self-parking ritual, my secret spots for Thai massage, and my special side poker games I go to where the players seemed to have learned poker at Chuck E. Cheese’s.

I will also tell you about how I detest that when I get up at six or seven in the morning, figuring I’ll be the only one in the elevator, I see non-gambling yuppie-types with nametags on their chests, coffee in their hands, and way-too-eager attitudes “out-Vegas” me in the elevators! How dare they? I call these people “cuppies,” which is short for “convention yuppies,” and I secretly curse them for being way too healthy and chipper! Moe Green and Bugsy Siegel are, without a doubt, rolling over in their graves. In the 70s, these guys would be have been thrown out of the casino by chainsaw in two seconds flat! Anyway, I’ll save that rant for another time.

Also in my next blog, I will give you more info about my film, Walk to Vegas, and where you can see it. Till next time, play loose and bluff on the river!


For more from Vince Van Patten, make sure you are following him on Twitter.

Recent Tweets @WPT