I’m sitting at the airport in Las Vegas waiting on a 1:30am flight that will eventually land me somewhere on the east coast in 8 hours. I didn’t plan on it or anything, but as one of my 2019 resolutions was to write more, I figured I’d recap a bit of what went down in Vegas. I know I’m breaking the rules. What happens in Vegas is supposed to stay in Carson County, Nevada. But, I just came from a conference about sticking it to the man and I’m feeling unruly.
I didn’t know what to expect heading into this dinner. Many of the main VIP attendees and the host himself- Tone Vays, have exulted about dieting exclusively on the finest cattle the world can offer. Now, I love a good steak, but it was under my own impression, that I thought we were going to be exclusively eating raw 64 oz. porterhouses paired with a full bodied cabernet. Maybe there would be the possibility of a bone-marrow plate being served up for an appetizer? I had even carved up some nightmarish-blurry vision of Tone, Saifedean, Count Dracula and the rest of us speed-eating to see who could consume our plates the fastest. While I’m up for some challenges, I was happy to see options on the menu. Potatoes and carrots were served alongside my medium-rare ribeye and I was able to consume copious amounts of self-serve coffee. Most of the guests in my vicinity chose the ribeye. Let’s be real, you would look like a reckless soy-boy eating herb tomato broth as your entree at this event. (Ducks the sandals thrown at me by the three people at the event who probably did this…)
The dinner started off with a happy-hour of sorts where conference attendees, fans, event speakers, and some Bitcoin celebrities mingled in and out of circles of 3-5. The Ugly Old Goat was the most discernible as he was swimming in and out of the circles in a mystifying goat mask and holding some rare looking, crafted Bitcoin staphs. Everyone was more than pleasant, and during the pre-bite I had some good exchanges with Jimmy Song, Max Keiser, Stacy Herbert and more. I gave them some DJPEPE stickers and Max proceeded to peel one back and wear the sticker on his jacket the entire dinner. I also chatted it up with a cool Australian, organic farmer who claimed “Bitcoin and beef” as his passions and my new pal Mark from Jacksonville who was taking Jimmy Song’s Bitcoin coding class during the conference. Now, take note; my beautiful and smart fiancee, Sasha, was by my side and she’s part of the cast of Tone Vays’ crypto-popular “Law Review” show, so it made hobnob-ing pretty easy.
We all sat down and listened to Tone Vays give some nice opening remarks about the conference and then we all gave a “cheers” to something, I don’t exactly recall, but I’m assuming it was to Bitcoin maxmilism, kek. Sasha and I were sitting at a pretty interesting table with Trace Mayer across from us, a Kraken guy to the left, the Slush Pool mining operators and the event’s videographer were to the immediate and front right.. Everyone was gracious with the conversation and it was cool to hear and offer some different insights. I particularly liked bringing up and hearing their opinions on the Bitcoin fungibility issues that seem to be simmering beneath the surface of the main Bitcoin discussions. Vortex, Tatiana Moroz and some more folks I recognized from twitter rounded out the other end of our table. The food was pretty good, the steak was excellent, but the event was mainly about the comradely and the celebration of Bitcoin. All-in-all, it seemed to me like everyone had a spectacular time.
Coming into the weekend, this was the main event I was looking forward to. We arrived at the The D Casino and we made our way to the twelfth floor. The first thing I noticed getting off of the elevator was all of the big blown out posters and decor for the game and event. Tone’s manager, Muzzman, deserves a shout out, not just for this poker event but for all of the events which seemed to run and look smooth. I stepped up to the registration, collected a Bitcoin sticker name tag and walked into the expansive pop-up casino. I eyed a make-shift bar, paid seven bucks for a Stone IPA, floated through the sea of people and kept my eye out for my assigned table number 2. I noticed the event was filled with many of the dinner attendees but also included world class poker players like Doug Polk who also marauds as a Bitcoin-er. There were a handful of professional players from what the rumor-mill spun up. I guess I could imagine a few no-coining poker-degens wanting to come take the amateurs “money.”
The game was Texas No Limit and we were each given $5,000 worth of 2016 WSP chips. Of the one hundred entries hoping to earn the 3 Bitcoin top prize, one champion would be left stacking $500,000 chips after about 6 hours or so. I was sat with 8 others and I was lucky enough to have Tone Vays at my table. You see, Tone had a 0.1 Bitcoin bounty on his head. Meaning that if you knocked him out of the game you essentially earned back your buy-in. Yes, the buy-in was 0.1 Bitcoin. Pretty hefty for an amateur like myself but hell, when in Vegas…
I made Top Ten!
Top ten of the first to get kicked out. Derp. One of the Slush pool guys I had sat with at the Carnivory dinner and I went all-in. I think he had a of pair of aces and I had a couple pair of low cards and we got beat by a guy who turned a straight on the river. It was the fourth round of blinds and we were both short stacking at that point and needed to make a move. I got up from the table, flipped all of the chips, yelled “Fuck this shit!” and stormed off in the direction of the men’s room and proceeded to punch out every mirror in the bathroom and then…
Sorry, got caught drifting there. No, no, no there was nothing like that.
(Rewind record sound)
The D owner actually gave a warm introduction before the poker tournament and explained that he was the first casino in Vegas accepting Bitcoin for payments for food and some other resources they offered. Pretty cool if you ask me. The crowd politely applauded his endeavor, although, I will say, it’s probably the wrong conference to be bragging about using Bitcoin as cash. I got the vibe that the most valuable property in Bitcoin was that it was unconfiscatable and the HODL energy was strong. Trace Mayer and Max Keiser were hosting the pre-game of the tournament and we all witnessed Max get a cake during a poker break, because apparently it was his birthday.
The event was being live-streamed and the hosts of the live stream were rotating between players getting booted from the tourney. I left with a group of people for a couple of hours and got some food downstairs. We came back to the game being dwindled down to two tables of 9 each. It was nearing midnight. The excitement was thick and the tables were surrounded by wobbling on-lookers. For the others not hovering around the final tables, the live stream was being simultaneously projected onto the large projection screen. The other 0.1 BTC bounty for a knock-out was on Doug Polk’s head and apparently he was cast away by Jimmy Song while we ate. The funniest part of the night was when Jimmy and Doug were doing color commentary for the main table. Doug’s knowledge of the game mixed with booze and weird Bitcoin references made a nice cocktail for the crowd to enjoy.
The eventual champion of the final table was Bradley Cooper, er, I mean a guy named Ben- who according to the Poker Room telegram chat is apparently “hot” and now he’s a little Bitcoin richer. Congratulations, that’s like being the James Bond of the internet, bro.
I heard next year they may shoot for a 200 person tournament.
Sasha and I arrived at The D around 11am. We made our way into the same room that was a casino the night before. Now, it was a conference room with four panelists discussing some technicals on stage and probably a couple of hundred or so chairs set up with most of them occupied by men of all ages (with a decent amount of ladies sprinkled about.) “Bitcoin Development” was the name of the panel going on as we first came in and Jimmy Song, Johnny Dilley, Peter Todd and Pavel Moravec were waxing about the intricacies of the Bitcoin network. We had just missed “The Bitcoin Standard” portion of the event with Saifedean Ammous who is the author of the book with the same name as his presentation. The talk that I really settled into the conference for was next, with Max, Stacy and Trace. They did a panel called “Will The Role Of The VC Change” and talked about some interesting things involving Bitcoin investments and how they’re perceived by traditional money. I gathered Trace is bullish on hoarding it all, and he explained how important he thought being a bearer of Bitcoin is.
The panels kept firing off one by one and next up was the “FA vs. TA” panel with Leah Wald, Tyler Jenks, Murad Mahmudov and Ugly Old Goat (UOG.) The panel was moderated by Tone. UOG wanted to start by thanking Tone for giving him a platform and how much he enjoyed the community. He was up from Mexico and apparently has a bit of a checkered past. (A Bitcoiner with a crazy past?!) For some of the talk he spoke through his goat mask but it was a bit hard to hear him and he eventually removed it on stage. He was an options trader from the 70s and 80s and he broke down some of his own interesting thoughts on Bitcoin. Of note, he thought that bitcoin hasn’t proven to be a good store of value and that the main reason to have bitcoin is because it is “Unconfiscatable.”
After lunch broke, we came back through while Max Keiser was in the midst of giving a presentation on the markets. The live-version of “The Keiser Report” was a nice little stand-up routine and Max gets the audience going with his edgy points. The subtext of the event paraphernalia has “Bitcoin Not Blockchain” under “UNCONFISCATABLE” and one of the panelists has “un-blockchain consultant” in his twitter bio so the next panel was going to get spicy. “Why Bitcoin Not Blockchain” featuring Giacomo Zucco (the aforementioned consultant,) Johnny Dilley, Jimmy Song and Tone Vays was basically just the four of them roasting shitcoins for an hour, lol. It was a bit hard to hear, but at one point I think Giacomo said something along the lines of, “at least the Rare Pepes used Bitcoin” (maybe “sorta” defending the point that if you are going to make a token use Bitcoin, i couldn’t quite tell.). They were discussing tokens and you could hear the howls and terrifying screams from the Cryptokitties getting slaughtered on the stage. It seemed to me that Johnny was the only one on stage who seemed to think that “blockchain” could possibly be used for other applications in life besides money. But, he also let on that he believed the majority of the chains and companies out there seemed to be ripe for failure.
After that exciting panel of live, Bitcoin maxmillist meme-ing ended, the legal panel featuring Sasha and David Silver was due up. David had an interesting take on Tezos. He is currently working a case on behalf of some plantiffs in a class-action case to prove Tezos acted unfaithfully during their Initial Coin Offering. He claimed his firm actually hired a videographer to tape Kathleen Breitman at conferences and talks, apparently not following her own lawyer’s advice of zipping it up.
Sasha and David both crushed it. The pair ended their talk by fielding questions from the audience. One guy wanted to know about the tax implications of moving coins off of Coinbase and into cold storage, whether he would have to file an FBAR because anything held on the Bitcoin Blockchain is domiciled … everywhere.
David said they couldn’t provide tax or legal advice on stage. Sasha just published a quick piece about it here.
After the law review we had to dip out early to catch some flights, but Sasha and I both noted that it was a breath of fresh air to go to a conference where Bitcoin was celebrated and championed. Kudos to Tone and the crew for a great inaugural event. I took away many new, unconfiscatable jewels for the brain, made some new contacts, saw some internet friends and got to play the airport slots for the first time. Would recommend again.