This post comes to you from Las Vegas, where I finished Day 1 of the $5000 NL hold'em (with not nearly as many chips as I'd like). As I announced on this week's 2+2 Pokercast, I was approved for a visa into the United States and will be attending the 2011 World Series of Poker (but most of it after the Canucks win the Stanley Cup, of course).
I was still quite adamant up to a couple months ago that I would not be returning to the U.S. A number of people did advise me, upon seeing me in person in Australia, that I should see a lawyer "just in case". It was an argument that did make sense. It didn't help that my WSOP housemates started copying me on house related e-mails in February. So I decided to contact one of the lawyers who posted on my blog after the initial denial. I chose Cory Caouette of bsis.com and he turned out to be fantastic and if you find yourself needing visa help for the US, I recommend that you get in touch with him via his website. Getting the visa was some amount of paperwork and hassle, but once at the consulate's office the person assisting me was courteous and professional. I was approved three days after my appointment.
Ultimately the decision to return to the U.S. was not really one of poker (or even hockey). It's one of friendship. While it'd have been nice to see my American friends all over the world, that wasn't happening, and the weeks that I spend at the WSOP in our house are without question the best weeks out of my year. It's not about the WSOP, it's about the friends and good times. If the WSOP were held in any other country -- or if it ceased to exist altogether, but the same group of people were forced by some circumstance to meet somewhere in the world for seven weeks -- I'm quite sure that I'd still have no desire to come to the U.S. But the camaraderie is something that was too much for me to give up after all. I'm sure I will get some people calling my a hypocrite or smugly cashing in their "I told you so"s. But that's fine; perhaps I deserve them. But depriving myself of my own enjoyment just to avoid those slings and arrows would be pretty silly.
As for my plans going forward: I'm only in Vegas for a couple days. As mentioned, I'm still in the 5k NL (but barely). The current plan is to be back in Vancouver for game 2, and travelling to the US again on Sunday -- this time for Games 3+4 in Boston. I figure if this whole thing about ending the U.S. boycott is about good times and memorable experiences, it should certainly be about watching the Canucks win their first-ever Stanley Cup!
So, I'm back. Now that my ever-so-principled stand has come to an end, I guess I had better make the most of it. Time to run good and cheer loud.
- back in the USA