Everyone once in a while, a ghost pops up at the high stakes nose bleed tables. Since the internet provides a shield of anonymity, it's not uncommon to see a new player that no one has ever heard of before. The name quickly becomes an enigma wrapped up in a riddle. Is it new blood being added to the mix? Perhaps a wealthy businessman or professional athlete giving the shark infested online waters a try? Is it a veteran pro playing for the first time? Is it a former high stakes player who went busto then built up a bankroll under a new moniker?
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.
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.
Like many poker rooms across the US, Cherokee Casino Resort is no stranger to the women of poker. Just as women take main event seats in poker tournaments across the globe, a handful of local ladies have made their names known at Cherokee Casino.
Kim Benzel, Debbie Inman and Deborah Hale are the first female members of Team Cherokee, an elite group of poker players who are quickly climbing the poker ranks on a local and national level.
The final installment of this three-part column highlights more of my interview with Paul Leggett, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Tokwiro Enterprises, the company that owns Absolute Poker and UltimateBet. As this article goes to print, there has been a decision rendered by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission with regard to the UB cheating scandal that will be addressed in the next issue.
It started with the Absolute Poker super-user scandal, and continues with the UltimateBet cheating scandal. There are many similarities between these two cases that involve two online poker sites, but the one overriding tie that binds is their joint ownership. Tokwiro Enterprises ENRG is a Canadian company that was established to purchase the two companies and bring them together under one roof.
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.
It was with great sadness that I learned of John Bonetti's passing after a long and courageous battle with prostate cancer. John's sometimes gruff demeanor turned into one of extreme kindness and generosity after he knew you for awhile.
The winner of the $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold'em event is Grant Hinkle. He is 27-years-old and turns 28 on June 7th (in just a few days). He was born in Topeka, KS. Hinkle works as a businessman who specializes in high tech marketing. He now lives with his wife in Kansas City, MO.
Hinkle was joined by several friends who flew to Las Vegas the night before to watch him play on Day Four. He was also joined by his mother and brother, who sat in the audience on he front row.
Hinkle graduated from the University of Kansas with a business degree.