07 July 2006

Home Alone II

Tough starting table: Joe Awada, Minneapolis Jim Meehan, dude, Kathy Liebert.

The Mouth taking a breath.

Hellmuth last week--what a battle he was in store for at the final table of the $5k NLHE Event #9.

My favorite buddy, Lynette Chan (see interview on right).

John Juanda, one of the masters.

I stopped on I-85 for about 2 1/2 hours today, driving the Big Guy back to the ATL for a birthday party. If we lived in LA, I'd call it the 85, but this is the South, home of Cokes, Moon Pies, inbreeding, sweet tea, and cole slaw. I had lunch at a place on Hwy 11 that claims to have the best hot dogs around. Now, I'm not sure of the marketing savvy that dogs for $1.19 bring to this local convenience store, but after driving by this place for literally 18 years, I decided to give it a whirl.

CC: "I'll take two hot dogs."
Lady (NOTE: same lady as pictured in a poster holding an upright bass with two other men, some sort of bluegrass or gospel trio): "You want it with the works?"
CC: "I'll take it with mustard."
Lady: "For here or to go?"
CC: "To go."
Lady: "You sure you don't want chili and onions?"
CC: "OK, sure."
Lady: "Well, that's the works."
CC: "OK."
Lady: "You want it for here?"
CC: "OK, I'll take it for here."
Lady: "It's hard to take it to go with the works."
CC (under my breath): "Now do you connect the dots here?"

Were they the best hot dogs around? They were hot dogs. What are you supposed to do with hot dogs? The wall next to the booth had these ancient newspaper clippings, including one of a guy who found forty rattlesnakes in a hollow log. There were also forty Polaroids of people with fish, turkeys, snakes, and a thirty-pound cauliflower.

Played a bit on Party, doubled by some fool with big slick on a board of K-Q-J-9 (uh, what do you think I might shove with, you numbskull?). My 10s-8s was good all day, unless two or three more cards came. I got some extra Party points for a six-card straight as well.

I wanted to explore one WSOP observation, something that I think is easy for us to overlook. As I said before, I've been to the Bellagio during a WPT tourney, and I'm not one of those stalker guys always looking for an autograph or a photo with someone. For a middle-aged chunky guy, I'm fly like that. I'm the guy who, when crossing the street on the Upper West side in '86, said "Hello, Mrs. Penn," taking Madonna's quick grin as treasure enough to last a lifetime. So, I wasn't looking for some sort of out-of-body experience with these poker players we see on TV or read about. My observation: these folks who were truly degenerate, social fringe people are now celebrities of rock-star status. And they are eating it up, lapping it like milk to a kitten.

Grown men are near tears approaching Doyle. It is almost akin to wrestling, as villains are embraced as warmly as the cuddly players. For those players who are generally shy, introverted, who have not figured out how to deal with this, they gravitate to the felt as a venue of protection from the hordes. Other INTP types have figured out how to play their role, turning themselves on when appropriate. For the affable, outgoing types, their smiles are greeted by the clicks of cameras and the bask of an adoring public. Even the peripheral player who's made the singular television appearance is gawked at and fawned over, "There's what's-his-name."

Ten years ago? These folks would shuffle to Vegas for the WSOP, searching for backers, fighting each other for their own money, chasing the big score to pay off their markers. Twenty years ago? Smoke-filled tables, dangerous men out for blood or money. It wasn't about bracelets, it was about survival. Professional poker players hadn't been invented; the species wasn't that evolved. They were rounders, grinders, hustlers. Implied pot odds and game theory were in their infancy; collusion, scratched cards, and crews were the analytical theories of the day.

Heady talk of brand management, battles between Stars and Full Tilt for player logo acreage may rage, but peek at any of the veteran players and you can get a hint of what they're really really really thinking when they stop and think: this is some kind of bewilderingly incredible, that we are celebrities. Let the younger members in the crowd, the beautiful people, get an outsized portion of the attention, what do we care? So-and-so is sponsored but has never cashed? What's-her-name is just a pretty face? Petty, as in Year 3 of the explosion, surely we are reaching the peak of the tidal wave.

Thanks for June's top ten referrers to this site:
I'll clean up my links on the right, but scroll down to find my newest player interviews and other articles. Some great interviews with Vince Van Patten, Joe Sebok, Matt Matros, and Terrence Chan. Head to PokerWorks for the latest articles from my WSOP coverage. As always, thanks so much for stopping by. Have an important call in a few hours, so I'll sign off for now. Have a good Friday.

QUICK ADDENDUM: Michael Craig interview now up on PokerWorks. Very interesting one for sure.


Blogger Pokerwolf said...

Thanks for all the effort, CC!!

Keep up the great work!

8:42 AM  
Blogger mookie99 said...

Loving the pictures...Nice to see The Mook hand...it's gold...sometimes.

You are doing a great job with the interviews. Great stuff.

12:04 PM  
Blogger cc said...

Thanks for the encouragement, really appreciated.

3:07 PM  
Blogger ciscoblog said...

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