So, I've smoked from the Vortex about five times now. The last two separate times have been without repacking the bowl! I'm definitely a fan of the Vortex bowl now, I might even say I prefer it to the phunnel. Well, with AF anyway. On the phunnel, AF only seems go last about one set of coals before it starts to taste burnt (as I described in this
thread). But with the Vortex, I'm almost done with my second set of coals and the flavor and smoke is still thick and rich.
So, thanks for the advice folks. I can't wait to try out the other hole patterns that were described. I'd really love to see a sticky thread or series of videos devoted to people's successful hole patterns to help people (especially new smokers) get the hang of things without wasting so much tobacco and charcoal on guesswork.