A Little Poker

This is a little poker story followed by some nostalgia from my days in the world of professional poker. For my non-poker readers, trust me, you will know when to stop reading.* 

Early last week the fire alarm system in my building was being worked on, which meant that the very loud clarion clanging cacophony  was going off just outside my door every five minutes. On the third detonation I slipped on my shoes, grabbed my keys and headed for the car. I really didn't have a destination until I was a block or so from the apartment when I thought of the Oaks Card Club in nearby Emeryville. Fifteen minutes later and I am slipping into an Omaha 8 seat and being greeted by the friendly table captain.

It takes a standard couple of rounds for the locals to ask where you are from and where have you played before. When I mentioned Las Vegas, the World Series of Poker came up and I was asked if I had ever played in the WSOP. Normally what would follow would be my admission to covering the Series for the last four years, which would lead to question about why I am not there this year and eventually the Matusow book comes up and -- well -- I have been there before and just wasn't interested in going there again, at least not that day.

"You ever been to the World Series?"

"Nope, never have."

As soon as I said it, I knew those were the right words. Most days I just don't have any interest in what I was so immersed in for the past five years. I do keep track of a few players at the Series, but those are my friends. I do read a few of the writers currently working the tournaments at the Rio, but again those are my buddies and I am more interested in what they write about away from the poker tables than anything that happens during the games.*

I covered the WSOP for four summers (Gold-Yang-Eastgate-Cada) and I look back at that I remember much more about the time away from the poker tables and infinitely more about the preliminary events than about the main event. Except for Mike's great run in the '08 main, while Amy and I were finishing the book.

For my media buddies sweltering in the desert heat, I offer this bit of historical pondering. Notice my years of coverage and compare them to yours, I think I perhaps didn't choose my tenure wisely.

(Jamie Gold-Jerry Yang-Peter Eastgate-Joe Cada)
(Robert Varkonyi-Chris Moneymaker-Greg Raymer-Joe Hachem)
(Scotty Nguyen-Noel Furlong-Chris Ferguson-Carlos Mortensen)
(Russ Hamilton-Dan Harrington-Huck Seed-Stu Ungar)
(Mansour Matloubi-Brad Dougherty-Hamid Dastmalchi-Jim Bechtel)
(Berry Johnston-Johnny Chan-Johnny Chan-Phil Hellmuth)
(Jack Strauss-Tom McEvoy-Jack Keller-Bill Smith)
(Bobby Baldwin-Hal Fowler-Stu Ungar-Stu Ungar)
(Johnny Moss-Sailor Roberts-Doyle Brunson-Doyle Brunson)
(Johnny Moss-Johnny Moss-Amarillo Slim Preston-Puggy Pearson)

I think only two of those groups might be more forgettable then my four year stint.