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James Garner Dead at 86

by Joseph Smith Sr.

Los Angeles Police reported today that actor James Garner was found dead from natural causes in his  Los Angeles home Saturday evening. 

When I was growing up I knew one for-sure fact about poker, 'Don't play with Maverick because you  would not win'. Years later when I first saw the remake of the “Maverick” movie with James Garner as  the father of the next poker playing Maverick I thought it was a parody of the early WSOP. 

Poker greats from all over the globe gathered to trade chips,lies and bluffs while determining who  could do it the best. While photographing the 2006 WSOP Main Event at the Rio Resort in Las Vegas  I was thrilled to see Maverick himself sitting at one of the tables with a few stacks of chips playing in  the greatest poker game of them all. 

James Garner was no longer the dashing young man but he was definitely the older version. He was  most kind and easy going that day. No, he didn't win and was eliminated that day. I did win and I  wasn't even playing. Getting to meet James “Maverick” Garner sitting at a poker table was quite a  thrill and for a few moments I was again a kid in Texas watching the great Maverick take them all. 

Thanks for the entertaining memories Mr. Garner. R.I.P.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (4 votes)

Calling Out Sexism in Poker: Beyond Maguire, Molly’s Game, and “The Mouth”

by Wendeen H. Eolis

The bloom was still on the rose of the poker boom when James (Jimmy) Woods strolled into the Commerce Casino, just outside Los Angeles. We met up for coffee and then walked over to a no limit hold’em game with “open seating.”

Tobey Maguire was in the game. So were Leonardo (Leo) DiCaprio and David Schwimmer. The rest of the players were a mixture of local pros and other recognizable regulars. There was no fanfare--no handlers holding court, protectively, no velvet ropes to keep gawkers at bay, no caviar on the side tables for the celebrities.

Except for the cast of Hollywood characters at the table, it was  a typical,  no limit hold' 'em game in  the country's biggest card room  The  blinds ware relatively small. the buy-in was uncapped, and thousands—not hundreds of thousands--of dollars  changed hands in the course of the night. Like the rest of the players at the table, the Hollywood pack seemed to care mostly about how people were playing their chips and the odds of a reversal of fortune on the turn of a card.

Way before Before Molly’s Game

In the mid 80s, when I first  sidled up to a poker table, the WSOP was the one tournament that meant something to any poker player worth his salt. In that era, poker players were accustomed to seeing the likes of Gabe Kaplan and Telly Savalas  at the World Series of Poker, but  generally, movie stars were not aficionados of public poker rooms. Very few women took seats at the tables. During the three week World Series at Binion''s Horseshoe; blue language and  vulgar comments were part of the game--except when a lady was at the table. Benny Binion, had no patience for such bad manners! Neither did Jack Binion. And good old Texans jumped right in if a guy got out of line when the fairer sex was present. But not so much in many other card rooms where  male players viewed women as intrusive on their boys' nights out.    

New York's Mayfair Club did better than most. In the mid 80's the Mayfair  began its evolution into the hottest underground poker den in America. There was an egalitarian spirit at the table.  Originally, a bridge and backgammon club, the Mayfair attracted some of the best and the brightest game players in the world; a slew of them were poker players; some  were women.  Once poker was an option at the Club, word spread like wildfire among local game players and sports bettors.

In no time flat, the Mayfair's ambience roped in low limit poker players from all walks of life. Pros, Wall Street whales and a smattering of celebrities were part of the Club's regular ebb and flow. There was one big no limit game; I decided to make high stakes no limit hold 'em  my game. Few women dared to take a shot at pulling down a four or five figure pot. Most of the time I was the only woman at the table.

Needling fellow players and "coffee-housing" (harmless trash talk) were  encouraged. Cursing was discouraged. The F bomb was never acceptable as a regular part of the conversation. Disparaging whispers about women and  fish were routine but down and dirty abuse   at the table was verboten.

And, Molly Bloom the poker hostess with the mostest, and author of a new book about high stakes poker games, in hotsy- totsy enclaves, was just a kid in Loveland, Colorado.

The 90s takes poker up a notch

In the 90s, screenplay writers Brian Koppelman and David Levien discovered New York’s Mayfair Club.  The Mayfair was the inspiration for their 1998 film,  Rounders, starring Matt Damon, Ed Norton and John Malkovich. In the years that followed, increasingly, celebrities made their way into poker rooms.  Damon took a fancy to the game. His close friend, Ben Affleck also got into poker; first at Foxwoods, in small no limit games, later in Atlantic City’s high stakes mixed limit games--with Jennifer Lopez at his side. After their break-up, more often alongside Maguire, and DiCaprio  in California--the poker capital of the world. Woods, caught the poker bug, independently. He eagerly, made visits to tournaments and cash games on both coasts. and Schwimmer was a frequent player, too.

The movie stars generally behaved in poker rooms as they would in any other coed domain, where manners count and unwritten rules of basic etiquette frown on being disrespectful or making fun of women for sport.  As to the rest of the poker players, across America, they were as orderly as required by the game runners and poker parlors personnel; few public card rooms muzzled provocative  commentary.

The Poker Boom Years in the Oughts

With the advent of online poker, the average age and social skills of poker players dropped, dramatically, during the next decade of the "oughts." A small influx of  never-seen-before women of varying ages  began to take seats at casino card room tables. If they wanted to play poker, they wee forced to adapt to a new lexicon of acceptable curse words and more table chatter that portrayed women as nuts and sl---s . 

Of course, some women in the poker world  never have  looked upon a poker table as a place to be a prim and proper lady!   One-time poker star and runner-up contestant on Celebrity Apprentice, Annie Duke was among them. At one Ante Up for Africa charity poker event, the  outspoken Duke, came running to our table where Matt Damon was the center of the universe. Mugging for the cameras, she said to him in earshot of  the well-heeled crowd, “You are such an attention w---re!”  

The golden era of Molly Bloom’s poker games was on the horizon.

Molly’s Game: Beyond Imagination

The poker festivities described in the new blockbuster book, “Molly’s Game,” by Molly Bloom became  the hottest tickets in town in the latter years of the oughts.  Business titans mixed it up with movie stars and the occasional well-known poker pro.

Dubbed the “Poker Princess,” of Hollywood and New York,  Bloom operated  private, exclusive, high-stakes poker games until the Government shut them down. Her game got hit by a sting operation that  targeted big fish in sports betting businesses and organized crime.

This past spring Bloom resolved the criminal case against her with one year of probation.

Ms. Bloom’s games were always carefully laced with celebrities the likes of Maguire, Schwimmer, Di Caprio, and Affleck. Movie icons attract billionaire businessmen into the fold, she explains. Bloom catered to Spiderman Maguire because he was a regular who encouraged other A-listers to join the fun. And for a good while, Maguire helped to keep Bloom's  business a captivating affair.

According to Bloom, Maguire was a big winner and a poor tipper who messed big-time with her sense of dignity.  Showing him as a cad toward women,  she cited  an incident  in which Spiderman insisted she bark like a seal for the reward of a $1,000 tip. She found it in herself to decline. She got the tip anyway. It was not the first example of Maguire's penchant for humor at a woman's expense, in a poker room, nor the last.

Maguire is part of a sizable demographic of men who push the boundaries of “arguably acceptable” conduct outside , brothels, male locker rooms, and bedrooms--by mutual consent. 

“Mike the Mouth” Reflects a Popular Mindset

Your rating: None Average: 5 (7 votes)

Download and Read the Poker Player Digital Edition for July 14th, 2014 (Vol. 18 Number 2)

June 2nd, 2014 Issue of Poker Player NewspaperDownload the July 14th Digital edition PDF of Poker Player Newspaper.

Featured Articles:
Calling Out Sexism in Poker — Beyond Maguire, Molly’s Game, and “The Mouth” - by Wendeen H. Eolis

Featured Strategy - Mike Caro: Today's Word is Revenge

Tournament Results:
World Series of Poker Events 53 to the Main Event (#65)

AND MUCH MORE, Download the new Issue PDF now!

No votes yet

Download and Read the Poker Player Digital Edition for July 14th, 2014 (Vol. 18 Number 2)

June 2nd, 2014 Issue of Poker Player NewspaperDownload the July 14th Digital edition PDF of Poker Player Newspaper.

Featured Articles:
Calling Out Sexism in Poker — Beyond Maguire, Molly’s Game, and “The Mouth” - by Wendeen H. Eolis

Featured Strategy - Mike Caro: Today's Word is Revenge

Tournament Results:
World Series of Poker Events 53 to the Main Event (#65)

AND MUCH MORE, Download the new Issue PDF now!

No votes yet

Download and Read the Poker Player Digital Edition for July 14th, 2014 (Vol. 18 Number 2)

June 2nd, 2014 Issue of Poker Player NewspaperDownload the July 14th Digital edition PDF of Poker Player Newspaper.

Featured Articles:
Calling Out Sexism in Poker — Beyond Maguire, Molly’s Game, and “The Mouth” - by Wendeen H. Eolis

Featured Strategy - Mike Caro: Today's Word is Revenge

Tournament Results:
World Series of Poker Events 53 to the Main Event (#65)

AND MUCH MORE, Download the new Issue PDF now!

No votes yet

WSOP NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP KICKS OFF ESPN TV COVERAGE ON TUESDAY, JULY 15 FROM 8-10 PM ET

Photo By: Joe Giron

LAS VEGAS (July 11, 2014) – While the final card of the 45th Annual World Series of Poker is likely to fall in the wee hours on Tuesday, July 15, it will be just a few short hours from then when television viewers will be able to get their first glimpse of the expansive television coverage from this year’s tournament.
 
On Tuesday, July 15 from 8-10 pm ET, ESPN begins their TV coverage of the 2014 World Series of Poker, with the first two of what will be 24 original episodes from the record-breaking event. 
 
The WSOP National Championship took place over Memorial Day Weekend on the boardwalk in Atlantic City, New Jersey and featured 126 players, all of whom qualified based on performance.  ESPN cameras captured all the final table action, as notable WSOP gold bracelet winners Dominik Nitsche, Matthew Ashton and Athanasios Polychronopoulos faced off against the best of the best from the WSOP Circuit qualifiers. 
 
In a WSOP television first, the venue was outdoors, with the opening weekend of the Jersey Shore in full effect on the famed Atlantic City boardwalk.  In Tuesday’s back-to-back one-hour episodes, ESPN covers the finale where more than $1.2 million is up for grabs.
 
Following a one-week hiatus, ESPN coverage of the 2014 World Series of Poker returns with action from the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on Tuesday, July 29 with coverage of the $1 million buy-in Big One for ONE DROP charity tournament.  For three consecutive weeks (July 29, August 5 & August 12), the WSOP on ESPN airs on Tuesday nights from 8-10 PM ET and provides Big One coverage.
 
Then, the WSOP on ESPN returns on Sunday, Sept. 28 at 9 PM ET, and airs for seven consecutive Sunday night’s providing WSOP Main Event coverage where this year’s winner will walk away with $10 million. The WSOP Main Event coverage will air consistently on Sunday nights in two-hour blocks from 9:00 PM ET to 11:00 PM ET.
Norman Chad and Lon McEachern call all the action. Dan Ochs and Steve Flower are the executives in charge of poker coverage on ESPN. 
The following page details all of ESPN’s World Series of Poker television plans for the 45th Annual World Series of Poker.
 
2014 WSOP on ESPN TELEVISION SCHEDULE
Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

A Sad Day for Poker - Well known Poker Player Chad Brown Passes

by Joseph Smith Sr.

A sad day for the world of poker.  Well known poker player Chad Brown lost his battle with cancer on July 2, 2014 and moved on to the big game.  He was a multitalented individual that had an ability to master most anything he attempted.

He was known throughout the entertainment world and he also made a name for himself in sports.  Poker became his primary pursuit during his final years.  He won a big event during the 2006 World Championship of Online Poker and finished second in the NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship invitational event.  In 2014 he was awarded a WSOP gold bracelet for his contributions to poker.

Over the years I have photographed Chad in numerous poker events and circumstances.  He always exhibited class and was a true gentleman without regard to the moment.  He always had time to meet and greet fans.

Chad Brown was truly a class act and will be sorely missed.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

2014 WSOP Event #57 $1,000,000 The Big One for One Drop

by Joseph C. Smith Sr.

A poker tournament with a prize pool totaling $37,333,338.  And that's after $111,111 from each of the 42 entrants $1 million buy-in which totals $4,666,662 is set aside for the One Drop Foundation.  Arithmetically inclined readers will be quick to note when you add the prize pool and the One Drop donation you get exactly $42 million.  So how much goes to the house?  None!  Harrah's WSOP is not taking any of the money.

This 3 Day event offered plenty of exciting and often humorous moments.  Amazing how at this level of poker  the players can be so casual about anything considering the amount of money at stake.  The top eight finishers received at least $1,306,667 in cash.  Even after deducting the original $1 million buy-in some serious money remains.

Day 3 saw the field of 42 cut to just 2 players with chips.  A 23-year-old Daniel Colman from Holden, MA  faced 5 WSOP bracelet veteran Daniel Negreanu.  Going into the heads-up play Colman held the chip lead with 68 and a half million to Negreanu's 57 and a half million.  Five hands later Negreanu had the chip lead with 73 and a half million to Colman's 52 and a half million.  Nrgreanu continued to stretch his lead and was holding a 2 to 1 advantage then the momentum reversed and quickly colman was ahead.

Negreanu pulled ahead one more time then Colman pulled ahead and continue to pad his lead.  He never looked back after that and finally Negreanu shoved his remaining chips into the pot holding Ace-4o and was called and covered by Colman tableing a K-Qo.  The flop showed J-A-4 giving Negreanu two pair and the lead and Colman needing a 10 for a straight.  The turn was a 10 giving Colman the lead and a straight and leaving Negreanu in desperate need of an Ace or 4.  The river was a 7 and Colman was the owner of a very special WSOP bracelet and $15,306.668 in cash.  He's also in the poker history book as the winner of the second largest cash prize in a poker tournament.

Daniel Negreanu received $8,288,001 for second.   

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

2014 WSOP Event #57 $1,000,000 The Big One for One Drop

by Joseph C. Smith Sr.

A poker tournament with a prize pool totaling $37,333,338.  And that's after $111,111 from each of the 42 entrants $1 million buy-in which totals $4,666,662 is set aside for the One Drop Foundation.  Arithmetically inclined readers will be quick to note when you add the prize pool and the One Drop donation you get exactly $42 million.  So how much goes to the house?  None!  Harrah's WSOP is not taking any of the money.

This 3 Day event offered plenty of exciting and often humorous moments.  Amazing how at this level of poker  the players can be so casual about anything considering the amount of money at stake.  The top eight finishers received at least $1,306,667 in cash.  Even after deducting the original $1 million buy-in some serious money remains.

Day 3 saw the field of 42 cut to just 2 players with chips.  A 23-year-old Daniel Colman from Holden, MA  faced 5 WSOP bracelet veteran Daniel Negreanu.  Going into the heads-up play Colman held the chip lead with 68 and a half million to Negreanu's 57 and a half million.  Five hands later Negreanu had the chip lead with 73 and a half million to Colman's 52 and a half million.  Nrgreanu continued to stretch his lead and was holding a 2 to 1 advantage then the momentum reversed and quickly colman was ahead.

Negreanu pulled ahead one more time then Colman pulled ahead and continue to pad his lead.  He never looked back after that and finally Negreanu shoved his remaining chips into the pot holding Ace-4o and was called and covered by Colman tableing a K-Qo.  The flop showed J-A-4 giving Negreanu two pair and the lead and Colman needing a 10 for a straight.  The turn was a 10 giving Colman the lead and a straight and leaving Negreanu in desperate need of an Ace or 4.  The river was a 7 and Colman was the owner of a very special WSOP bracelet and $15,306.668 in cash.  He's also in the poker history book as the winner of the second largest cash prize in a poker tournament.

Daniel Negreanu received $8,288,001 for second.   

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

WSOP Branding Machine - Part Two : Changing of the Guard

By Wendeen H. Eolis

Until moments after the 2009 WSOP final table proceedings in the fall, Jeffrey Pollack was the public face of the WSOP.  And then, suddenly, he announced his resignation and rushed off to take interviews that controlled the immediate spin on his departure.  He said he was ready to survey opportunities in new pastures and pleased  to have contributed  to the growth of the WSOP brand.  

Despite the happy state of affairs effectuated by the Pollack-Stewart collaboration, the collegiality between the two men had begun to wane at least a year earlier. A corporate reorganization of CIE was also afoot. Although Pollack had recommended a strong initiative in the online gaming market, and sought to add this responsibility to his portfolio, Caesars Entertainment CEO Gary Loveman was zooming in on Mitch Garber, the recently departed CEO of Party Gaming, to lead such an effort.

Mitch Garber Steps up to Bat

Pollack’s unveiled opposition to Garber as his potential boss made for an awkward situation once Garber was plainly in line to take the reins of CIE (initially Harrahs Interactive Entertainment), including Pollack's most treasured domain, the WSOP.  

In the spring of 2009, Garber became CEO of CIE. With Garber's blessings, Pollack assumed the title of President of CIE, briefly. But, Garber was running the show and relying on others as he built his team. In the fall of 2009, Pollack resigned. Garber tapped Stewart as his replacement.

Stewart Shines Brighter under Garber

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

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