I can’t explain it, but for some reason, poker has attracted some extraordinarily talented writers in recent years.
Arguably, foremost among this generation currently pushing boundaries and giving us all in-depth news and fresh perspectives almost daily is Robbie Stazynski. Somehow, living in a faraway land works to his advantage. He sees what many of us don’t see. He hears things we don’t hear. He contemplates thoughts we don’t ponder. And, he says and writes what many of us can’t (or won’t) say and write. Indeed, Strazynski’s body of work is consistently bold and brave, much like the 33-year-old himself, who has lived a full life that’s the subject of admiration and intrigue — this from my perspective.
Strange thing is — I have almost nothing in common with Strazynski. We hold vastly different religious views. We are at odds politically. We have opposite views on the Middle East, and U.S.-Israeli relations. Still, I do enjoy and often learn from what he writes and says when he speaks his mind, which has become a perpetual dialogue. I have come to respect his passion. I do appreciate Strazynski when he speaks his mind in whatever forum he so choses, whether it’s about poker or politics. And after hearing his viewpoint, I feel as though I’ve gained something. Unfortunately, this respectful discourse between activists is rare nowadays. Sides that don’t always see eye to eye have become entrenched in echo chambers of isolation. I suppose that’s the biggest reason that I cherish this unusual friendship that we’ve developed just over the past year.
One normally doesn’t think of poker as a game with memorabilia.
After all, poker isn’t like football or baseball — where balls, bats, uniform jerseys and other rare artifacts can sometimes fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars. No matter how rare or unusual the item, it’s hard to imagine any poker artifact being worth much to a collector or viewed in the public eye as a cherished national treasure.
Some notable exceptions could be old decks of cards used in the old World Series of Poker championships dating back to the 1970s, and other keepsakes like table felts, chips, and various items which are exceptionally rare and have a unique story behind them. Too bad most of them are long gone now. For instance, if someone could dig up Doyle Brunson’s famous 10-2 off-suit, and by that I mean the actual cards that won world poker championships back-to-back in 1976 and 1977, one presumes they would attract significant interest at Christie’s Auction. However, most items which may have ultimately become collectible were either tossed away or destroyed — except for poker chips, which is now a cottage industry all its own (see some of Andy Hughes postings on Facebook about chip collecting, which are history lessons in themselves).
Writer’s Note: There is other news in poker outside of what’s happening at the WSOP being held at the Rio Las Vegas. Here’s press release on the latest from “Poker Night in America.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MARIA HO AND DAVID TUCHMAN ANNOUNCED AS STARS FOR INNOVATIVE NEW TELEVISED POKER SERIES POWERED BY “POKER NIGHT IN AMERICA”
Las Vegas, NV (June 2, 2015) – The creators of Poker Night in America announced today they are launching a new television series called “Poker Night: The Tour” a new concept which will feature two of the game’s most popular poker pros — Maria Ho and David Tuchman. The series creators are also promising additional personalities will be joining the cast in the future.
“Last year, we launched a new series on CBS Sports Network called ‘Poker Night in America,’ which has proven to be a refreshing approach to showing the game on television and bringing in new viewers,” said PNIA and Rush Street Productions President and show founder Todd Anderson. “Next, we want to continue to push the envelope by developing this new tour and show. We’re excited to have both Maria and David joining the team and look forward to adding some additional star power in the coming weeks.”
Trivia question. Identify the following individual.
Who’s ranked in the top ten of most cashes in history at the World Series of Poker….and who has won two career WSOP gold bracelets….and who’s earned more than $5.5 million just in poker tournaments alone….and who’s cashed in the Main Event Championship four consecutive years (then, a record)….and who made the world championship final table the same year Stu Ungar won his last title….and yet, who plays poker only part-time, with the bulk of his actual winnings as a full-time professional gambler coming from not from cards, but rather from sports wagering and horseracing?
Here’s another hint: He’s one of the least conspicuous players in poker, seemingly invisible inside any cardroom, yet is a giant among gamblers because he’s not only overcome the odds and prospered for so long in such a variety of different endeavors — somehow managing to support himself by one holy virtue –which is looking for edges and then pouncing on opportunity; Just as impressive, he’s always conducts himself with pure class.
So, who is this person we may have seen but probably don’t know? The correct answer is: Chris Bjorin
Rep Porter, a two-time World Series of Poker gold bracelet winner, outlasted nearly 430 players on Friday afternoon in “The Colossus,” billed as the biggest poker tournament in history. Given more that 22,000 players are expected to enter this mega-competition, that meant Porter could enjoy bragging rights for coming in 21,612th place.*
Porter never had an above-average stack of chips at any point in the tournament and would have gone largely unnoticed, had it not been for his early elimination and subsequent walk of shame, wallowing through nearly 2,000 players packed like sardines inside the bustling Pavilion Room, at the Rio Las Vegas.
When asked to explain the humiliation, Porter snapped, “What can I say? I ran out of chips. I didn’t want to leave. But once I was out of chips, they wouldn’t deal me any more cards.”
Along the rail, Porter was welcomed by another former gold bracelet winner, licking his wounds and sharing his bad beat story with anyone in the surrounding area who would listen. Ken Aldridge, a used car salesman from North Carolina, couldn’t even outlast Porter.
When asked to comment, Aldridge said, “I hope to make it past the first level next time. I can’t believe Rep Porter finished higher than me in this event. Please don’t tell anyone, okay? That would look really bad if that were to get out.”