Thursday, September 23, 2004
Damn, I'm supposed to be in AC right now with Al but Real Life has gotten in the way. :(
I won't bore you with all the sordid details, but suffice to say, things are harrowing. A horse broke its leg yesterday and had to be put down. That's never good. My work situation has been utterly turned upside down. Also, I have a MRI on Monday in preparation for surgery. For these reasons and more, I am saddened to say I can't make the AC poker convention. My humble apologies to all - I've just got too freaking much going on right now. I'm really looking forward to reading the trip reports, however, as I'm sure the Boys are gonna have a blast. I wish I was there, damnit.
Sadly, I don't get to write one. But if you are new here, or perhaps tardy, please scroll down to my last post for my Trip Report on playing poker in Aruba during Hurricane Ivan. One more post and it's in the archives, forever.
Also, I wasn't sure if I was gonna mention this, but on the eve of my cancelled journey, it seems apropos.
There is a reason I never post my picture or anything on this here poker blog.
It's my big secret and I finally spilled it in chat.
Of course, once I did so, this person decided not to come to AC to meet me. I can't help the way God made me!
here's the chat:
fpb = fellow poker blogger
iggy: i have something serious to tell you
fpb: the borgata serves free top shelf liquor in real glasses
fpb: all will be good
fpb: okay mr. iggy, tell me
iggy: i am a dwarf
iggy: did you know that
fpb: yeah me too
iggy: i can drink alot for a dwarf tho
iggy: im serious
iggy: what the fuck is wrong with you
iggy: i hope you are kidding
fpb: that's fine with me...I certainly don't mind
iggy: just dont want you to act weird around me
fpb: I act weird around everyone lol
iggy: i know everyone will be VERY surprised so i HAD to tell someone
fpb: alright man. take it easy
fpb: not that it matters, because it truly does not to me, but are you being serious or just fucking around with me?
iggy: it sounds like it DOES matter
iggy: i'm getting offended, i'm not from the zoo or anything
fpb: alright man. take it easy - it's cool dont worry
fpb: it doesn't matter to me
iggy: its ok
iggy: im used to it
fpb: um. it really doesn't i was just curious because you've never mentioned it before
iggy: i am a little person
iggy: big deal
fpb: it's fine
iggy: i dont mind flying - i fit in the airplane seats better than most people
iggy: i just wanted to warn you
iggy: dats all
fpb: hey no prob man
iggy: shrug - anyway, if you could -
iggy: sometimes i like a boost into a chair at the bar. the chairs can be pretty tall.
iggy: and i dont like sitting in peoples laps
iggy: people take pictures and shit
iggy: that sucks
fpb: don't worry. I promise you won't have to sit in my lap
iggy: ty - i don't mind sitting in girls laps tho. just not guys. that's queer.
fpb: i'm a fat guy so don't sweat it - we've all got our imperfections
iggy: lol true
iggy: maybe you could carry me around in case i get tired?
fpb: you got it
iggy: k ty
iggy: i might take you up on that
fpb: i'll be glad to oblige
fpb: alright man, i have to get to bed...work tomorrow and such.
fpb: i am looking forward to meeting up with you next weekend.
iggy: same here
iggy: bring a backpack
iggy: to borgata
iggy: to carry me around in
fpb: LOL now cmon iggy.
I blew it there with the backpack thingy, damnit.
Even Bill doesn't think that will fly.
Ah well, it was funny at the time. At 1AM, bored and full of Guinness you tend to do odd things like that. Thanks to my overly kind fellow poker blogger who played along with my drunkeness.
And in lieu of a real poker post, which I swear is forthcoming (new poker blogs and news and trip reports and flames), allow me to post the New York Times article (subscription) in it's entirety for ya. Poker just keeps on growing and growing.....
Teaser headline on Section A, Page 1 (yes - the Front Page):
"STARS OF EXTREME POKER" - A no-limit style of poker called Texas Hold 'Em has made some of its players stars as they bet as much as $1 million on a single card under the glare of television lights at the World Poker Tour in Atlantic City."
Quote of the Day - Section A, Page 2
"The only time we aren't in the action is when we are sleeping."
JOHNNY CHAN - a poker player
"DEAL THEM IN" - Section E, Page 1 (Arts section)
Poker Pros, Now in TV's
Glare, Always Want "In"
September 23, 2004
By DAVID CARR
ATLANTIC CITY, Sept. 20 - Sunday night, three of the
luckiest guys alive finally caught a break and headed up to
a room at the Borgata casino here for a rest in the middle
of a long day at the World Poker Tour. In the past few
years these three have each won millions of dollars - the
talk generally gets less specific when losses come up -
playing Texas Hold 'Em, a card game that has stormed across
television and computer screens and put poker in the middle
of the table as never before.
The men are three of the kings of so-called no-limit poker,
a format in which any player at any time can put all his
money in the pot - all in, as they say. No-limit poker is
as indigenous to America as jazz, and full of just as much
improvisation. Apple pie is fine, and baseball is always
good on a sunny day, but what could be more American than
betting $1 million on the flop of single card?
Although pitiless when they sit across the table from one
another for a game of Hold 'Em, the three, Doyle Brunson,
T. J. Cloutier and Gus Hansen, are friends, as friendly as
professional card players get. They had mixed results
playing the seven-card game at the tables that day, in part
because they had to play through a clutter of amateurs that
the poker craze has created. Now that the pros finally had
some time to themselves, give or take a reporter, they
could unwind at last. And play some cards.
Away from the television cameras and clamoring fans, they
opted for a change of pace, plopping down on the king-size
bed as Mr. Hansen dealt 13 cards to each player. Chinese
poker was the name of this game, and it required that they
arrange three hands of poker out of the cards they were
dealt, in progressively better hands. The room went silent
for five seconds after the deal as each man clicked through
mathematical possibilities measured in thousands. And then
they played nickel poker, with the word "nickel" meaning
$500 and "dime" meaning $1,000. Many thousands of dollars
changed hands in a matter of minutes.
Mr. Hansen, a former top backgammon player who came out of
nowhere or, more specifically, Denmark, in 1997 as a
professional poker player, won the first hand. Mr. Brunson,
an old-school rounder who came up the hard way - and won
the World Series of Poker, twice - was gracious in defeat.
"You won it all as usual, which is something I will have
to become accustomed to," he said.
He and Mr. Hansen have seen a lot of each other. This past
summer they, with six other of the world's best card
players, each anted up $400,000 for a professional death
match on Fox Sports Net called the "Poker Superstars
Invitational Tournament" - no amateurs or Internet players
allowed. The last episode of the first round was broadcast
on Sunday, with Mr. Hansen riding a hot hand to victory. A
new round begins next Sunday.
In the game of Hold 'Em, each player receives two of his
own cards and then bets progressively over the next five
common cards on the table - three cards known as "the
flop," a fourth known as "the turn" and then the fifth,
"the river." Millions of new players are flooding virtual
Hold 'Em games on the Internet and have stormed the
casinos. The Borgata alone is in the midst of expanding its
poker room to 85 tables, from 35.
But these pros aren't new to the game. They are all
self-described degenerate gamblers who just happen to be
better at the game than civilians. Their every waking
minute is spent in pursuit of action, not always at the
poker table. If the three of them came across two worms
washed on a sidewalk after a rainstorm, they might be
compelled to stop and bet on which one makes it back to the
Someone brought up the evening's National Football League
game: Miami would square off against Cincinnati in a few
hours. Mr. Brunson, who is famed for putting down as much
as a $250,000 on any given day on sports events, asked Mr.
Hansen who he liked in the game. Mr. Hansen said he had no
strong preference, but Mr. Brunson told him to pick anyway.
Mr. Hansen chose Cincinnati to beat the points and the
under, which is a pick based on total points. And with
that, the bet was down: $30,000. Who picked whom was
clearly beside the point.
"We all like the action," Mr. Hansen said later at the
casino's buffet, taking in mouthfuls of mashed potatoes off
a butter knife as he spoke. "If nothing is at stake, what's
That does not explain why millions of people are sitting in
front of their televisions watching other people play
cards; the World Poker Tour was the Travel Channel's
highest rated show last year. (Among the other shows now on
the air are ESPN's "World Series of Poker" and Bravo's
"Celebrity Poker Showdown.") Poker became television fodder
when the toy mogul Henry Orenstein invented a camera
technology that allowed viewers to see a poker player's
cards through a window in the table. Mr. Orenstein is the
creator and executive producer of "Poker Superstars."
"Before, you never knew who had what cards," he said in a
telephone interview. "Now you can actually see the strategy
in the middle of the game."
It was the Internet, however, that changed the odds in
big-money tournaments. Last year an Internet player named
Christopher Moneymaker - his actual name, by the way - won
the World Series of Poker and $2.5 million. He had never
played in a live tournament in his life, so his victory
took a bit of the mystique out of poker, where it has long
been held that reading the people is more important than
reading the cards. There are no faces in Web card rooms,
only players and lots of them. Last year, according to
Christiansen Capital Advisors, a market research concern,
Internet gambling revenue totaled almost $6.35 billion.
Mr. Orenstein reasoned that if people would spend billions
sitting in front of their computers, they might want to see
the game's royalty going head-to-head, and he sold the
program idea to Fox; "Poker Superstars" made its debut in
The legendary player Johnny Chan, who appeared as himself
in the movie "Rounders," is one of those kings. At the
Borgata, he took a seat at a slot machine to chat.
"The amateurs are going to get lucky every once in a while,
and I don't think it is bad for the game," he said. "I love
this game. We all do. We want to be in the action all the
time. The only time we aren't in the action is when we are
It can get pretty silly after a while. Howard Lederer, who
has played chess for cash, is known as the Professor
because of his command of poker's numerical whims. Even as
he sat nursing a brutally small stack of chips in the poker
room at the Borgata during the World Poker Tour, he was
staring at a television screen above his head that was
replaying a hand he had against Johnny Chan in Fox's "Poker
Superstars." The hand in front of him did not look much
better than the one on the screen.
"I know I'm in a tournament and going to lose and running
bad on TV, too," he said.
"But you have to be in the moment," he added
philosophically. "I was having a mediocre day of cards, but
I was struggling to play my best. You can't think about the
meta, about the past, about the bad beats. You have to play
the cards in front of you."
The tournament ended after midnight and everyone, pros and
amateurs alike, counted their chips and thought about the
next day of play. But not everyone was done playing. At a
$15 craps table just outside the B Bar on the main level of
the Borgata, the guy chanting at the dice looked familiar.
It was Mr. Cloutier, who has 57 titles in major tournaments
and five World Series of Poker titles; he is poker's
all-time leading money winner.
Mr. Cloutier is one guy you do not want to have sit down at
your table, except that he is a complete gentleman, which
means he will be nice to you after he takes all of your
money. But he was playing craps right then. It was 1:26 on
Monday morning. He made a promise, empty even as it was
uttered, to stop by the bar when he was done.
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