The poker pro they call “Chainsaw” made it look easy, cutting his way through the competition at this year’s World Series of Poker on his way to eight cashes in the 20 tournaments he played.
LA's Commerce Casino and its new tournament director Matt Savage might not have connected if Savage's Plan A had worked.
His thinking fizzled, so he looked around for a Plan B and what do you know, there it was. It's a long story but the 40-year-old Savage cuts to the chase with this explanation: He was 14 when he started working as a porter in a 60-lane Southern California bowling alley. His goal then was to become a professional bowler. It would have been fun. Years later he still carries a 210 average.
"There was not a lot of money in bowling."
Forget about finding Eric Drache's name in the World Series of Poker record books. It's not there but his fingerprints are all over this biggest of all gambling events because of the 14 years he served as its director from 1973 to 1987.
Talk about a big first impression. That was Tiffany Michelle, the "hot chick" behind the big stack, playing her way through most of the 6,844 entries in the World Series of Poker's 2008 main event, finishing 17th and going home with $334,534 in prize money.
As the last couple days of the no-limit hold 'em championship began, one of the Harrah's officials confided to a news media acquaintance, "We're really hoping Tiffany makes it to the final table."
There came a time about eight years ago when Jan Holubowicz-he's now the Normandie Casino's tournament director-took a long look at the poker business and could feel a tug of attraction.
Poker was the way to go.
Mohegan Sun Poker Director Bruce Dixon says it was just one of those things, him being at the right place at the right time to discover a life changing opportunity.
He was wandering through one of the Atlantic City casinos shortly after poker came to the casinos there on June 25, 1993. Dixon was about 20 at the time and not a gambler. Neither was anyone in his family, but how could he resist the inviting noise and crowds associated with the big casinos?
Joseph Walsh drove up to Las Vegas the last few days of the World Series of Poker to spend some quality time with old friends... the world of gambling and its rhythm of compelling vibes. They have filled much of his life.
Oh yes, he also had a new book to hype. It's called Gambler on the Loose. All in all, he had a good excuse to leave his Southern California home in favor of a room at the Bellagio and his kind of crowd for a few days.
And if things went as he imagined they would-and they did-there would be time for poker in the Bellagio's card room.
More than 20 years of getting to know poker have not eroded Wendeen Eolis' enthusiasm for it as she prepares for this year's World Series of Poker, when she'll be "playing" one of her biggest hands ever as the chair of the World Poker Association, and its efforts to polish poker's image and shape its future.
Turning Stone Resort & Casino [www.turningstone.com] poker boss Jason DiBenedetto may have a cure for those under 21 blues, the I'm-too young blahs among poker buffs.
Poker Player Editor Lou Krieger stayed busy running between several different interests during the last years of the 1990s: His work as a management consultant for various political subdivisions such as cities and school districts; interesting up to certain point but by the mid-1990s it was beginning to leave him a little cold.
Playing poker whenever he found the time because the game had been part of his life since those childhood years when he peered over the shoulders of the adults in the Brooklyn home games sponsored by his family.