Msot Embrassing Momnets: My Wrost Typos Ever
You can’t write thousands of poker tournament reports without making a few mistakes.
Over the last 15 years or so, I’ve made a shitload.
Fortunately, things are much easier now than they used to be. Today, there’s spellchecker software. Events like the World Series of Poker also hire more staff, which proofreads official reports before they’re released to media.
But back in the bad old days, I used to do most of the writing and sending out on my own. Since virtually all official reports were written very late a night, or even the following morning, they were often infused with errors. Some proved quite embarrassing.
Here’s what I call “the Dirty Dozen”:
(1) SPELLING THE WINNER’S NAME WRONG — You might think that winning a World Series of Poker gold bracelet and perhaps a million dollars in prize money would be enough to motivate the person responsible for writing the “official report” to spell the winner’s name right. Wrong! I’ve done this more times than I care to admit. Sometimes, no one notices — especially when Russians or Ukrainians win. But I’ve butchered even the simplest of names. To this day, I still have to re-look up Erik Seidel (it’s with a K), Carlos Mortensen (it’s with an E), Jennifer Harman (it’s with an A), and Mike Matusow (it’s with a U and an O). I’m a hurribel speller.
(2) “HE’S QUITE A PORKER PLAYER” — Some time ago, a heavy-set man finished in the top five at a final table at the U.S. Poker Championships in Atlantic City. I won’t reveal the name of the player, for obvious reasons. The big man played terrifically but just got very unlucky on the final hand. In the official report, I meant to write “(NAME) is quite a poker player.” Well, let’s just say I stuck in one extra letter (an R) — the worst letter imaginable.
(3) DESTROYING SOMEONE’S POKER CAREER — Did I ruin someone’s poker career? 1999 was the first year I worked the Jack Binion World Poker Open, which used to be the second-biggest tournament in the world. Back then, we used to report every single bust-out hand. In one tournament, I reported a player “called” all-in with J-3 to a completely unconnected board. The reality was, the player had “raised” all in with J-3, hoping to steal the pot (a completely justifiable strategy, at times). His bluffed got called and he busted out. In short, I made the player look like a fool in the report. The next day, the player stormed up to me and was furious. “How in the fuck can you write I CALLED with that hand?” he screamed. “Now, everyone thinks I’m an idiot! My backers all want to drop me!” Truth is, the player was absolutely correct. I’d made a critical error and the player suffered for it. I never saw him again after that. To this day, I wonder if I destroyed someone’s poker career.
(4) THE RAKE IS HOW MUCH? — Back in 2002, Binion’s Horseshoe was a sinking ship. It had a future about as bright as the Titanic. Casino matriarch Becky Binion-Behnen had been crucified for raising the house rake. The takeout on all gold bracelet events was raised to a whopping six percent! Players were threatening to boycott the WSOP. During the middle of the series, I wrote a report which included what’s called “headers.” These are the official statistics of the tournament — like the number of entries, prize pool, and so forth. On this particular tournament, I listed 200 entrants for a $2,000 buy-in event, which means the total prize pool should have been about $400,000. Trouble was, I left off three zeroes. So, the official report read as follows: NUMBER OF ENTRANTS: 200 TOTAL PRIZE POOL: $400 Someone posted my report to one of the poker forums and commented: “Holy shit! I knew Becky was ripping everybody off! But now a couple of hundred players are playing for 400 bucks? That’s ridiculous!”
(5) WHAT WORD DID I USE? — I’ve done this a few times. Usually this happens on what are called “Overnight Chip Counts.” Fact is , the more often you use a word, the more likely it might get misspelled. For instance, see “POKER/PORKER” above. Well, “COUNTS” is another dangerous word. Go ahead. Use your imagination. For those with clean minds, the typo I’ve made more than once is: CHIP CUNTS”
(6) SPELLING “CAESARS” WRONG — It would be nice if I could spell the name of the company that I work for correctly. Not that it’s critical to do so, being a writer and all. For years, I spelled it as CEASARS PALACE. Look at the name. Isn’t that the way it actually sounds? Well, it’s actually spelled C-A-E-S-A-R-S. I think.
(7) INSULTING VANESSA SELBST — This one isn’t really a typo, but it bears mentioning. Back in 2006, I held the microphone and was making introductory remarks in front of a large crowd and the seated final table, which was just about to begin. Poker pro Liz Liu was performing our official “Shuffle Up and Deal” honors that night. So, when I was introducing Liz to the crowd, I casually mentioned “I predict Liz is going to be the next woman to win a WSOP gold bracelet.” Big mistake. In my rush to the stage, I neglected to look at the final table lineup. Sitting in seat six was none other than Vanessa Selbst. Immediately following my remarks, people came running up to me. “How could you do that? How could you insult Vanessa like that?” I wanted to crawl into a hole. Later, I went up to Vanessa and apologized. She was gracious with me and said not to worry — which was more than I deserved. Vanessa has since won two gold bracelets — so what do I know?
(8) JACK EFFEL DRAWS A TOTAL BLANK — WSOP Tournament Director Jack Effel does a nice job performing the official WSOP gold bracelet ceremonies. Each year, there’s usually around 60 of them in all. But I’m the one entrusted with writing the scripts. A few years ago, I arrived at the Rio late and wrote the script in just a matter of a couple of minutes. I hit the print button and ran to the stage without checking the script. As it turned out, Jack was running late that day, as well. We had a couple of gold bracelet winners lined up, ready to be introduced. Everything went fine with the first winner. The national anthem was played, and everyone sat back down waiting for the introduction of champion number two. Just as Jack was ready to introduce the second winner, he stopped cold in mid-sentence. His face turned completely white. Standing in front of 2,000 people and the media just a few feet away, poor Jack was on the spotlight staring at a blank page. The printer ink had completely run out. Jack looked around for a second awkwardly and basically ad-libbed his way through the incident. He was so astute that no one seemed to notice. From that point forward, Jack always double checks the script before taking the stage. I have no idea why.
(9) ALEX THE CAT WINS WSOP A GOLD BRACELET — Let me preface this story by saying I have a cat named “Alex.” About ten years ago, I was sending out the official reports alone at night. The workload was overbearing — doing all those overnights, writing the official reports, and so forth. I also had to blast out the reports and photos to hundreds of people on the media list. Since few media were covering the WSOP back then, all the gambling websites relied on my reports and photos which were posted immediately. Unfortunately on one event, I got the winner photo mixed up. I attached the wrong picture from my laptop and hit the send button. Ladies and gentlemen, here’s the winner of the 2003 Pot-Limit Omaha World Championship (photo below):
(10) SHE’S HOW OLD? — One of the worst possible things you can do is get someone’s age wrong, especially when you make them much older, and particularly when it’s a woman. In 2006, Clare Miller from New Mexico won the Seniors World Championship. She was 66-years-old at the time. During the post-tournament interview, I thought I heard Clare say she was 79-years-old. Worse, I didn’t question it. So, that’s what went into the report. In fact, the headline screamed “79-YEAR-OLD WOMAN WINS WSOP SENIORS CHAMPIONSHIP.” Once again, the report was blasted out to the entire poker world. The next day, the winner’s husband came charging up to me in the hallway. “You wrote my wife is 79-years-old! She’s 66!” I was speechless. The husband rambled on a bit and then started laughing up a storm. He couldn’t keep a straight face. He had played a gag and I was the deserving target. Actually, the Millers got quite a laugh about it. “There’s no way I could ever be mad at you, Nolan,” he said. “I was more mad about sleeping about with a woman that was 13 years older than she said she was for the last forty years.”
(11) CHIP LEADER — NOT! — The 2009 WSOP Main Event Championship included three starting days. At night’s end, official chip counts are based on what players write on a reporting form. Unfortunately, many poker players have terrible handwriting. Among the very worst is Eric Cloutier, the Quebec-born Cajun who been playing the poker circuit for more than a decade. Cloutier ended Day One with 15,000 in chips. However, the figure that appeared to be written on his reporting slip was “150,000.” So, that’s the number that was recorded and sent out in the official reporting. The next day, Eric Cloutier showed up to the Rio and was immediately hounded by media. “How does it feel to be the chip leader in the Main Event” he was asked. Cloutier was baffled. “I don’t know,” he snapped back. “I only have 15,000.” The craziest part of the story is that Cloutier went on a huge run during second day. At the end of Day Two, he ranked second in chips with 383,500!
(12) THE WORST WORD I COULD POSSIBLY (MIS)USE — There’s one word in the English language more offensive than all the others. And it’s not the “F-Word.” Here’s the story of how I accidentally used that taboo word. In 2010, I was working the WSOP Circuit event at Harrah’s Rincon, near San Diego. The tournament ran normally, with nothing particularly memorable about it. Back then, we not only blasted reports to hundreds of media outlets. We also posted the write-up at the official WSOP website. The following morning, my cell phone practically blew up. The phone was resting on the nightstand and kept vibrating out of control. I tried my best to ignore it, but after it wouldn’t stop ringing and buzzing, I figured I better see what the commotion was about. It was Seth Palansky, Vice President of Communications for CIE. He was calling from corporate headquarters in Las Vegas. “Did you proof-read last night’s tournament report?” he asked. “No…..errr, I mean yes. I mean…….” Palansky wouldn’t let me in on what the problem was about. “Go back and re-read your report! Be sure and pay attention to the sixth-place finisher!” Click! The covers flew off the bed and I fired up the laptop. Imagine my horror when reading the following line: “(Player) was playing quite aggressively since he had one of the nigger stacks.” Check the keyboard. The letter B is right next to the letter N. I immediately called back to corporate. To my utter devastation, Alan Fowler answered the phone, who happens to be Black. When he answered the phone, I suddenly had trouble breathing. Alan tried to punk me by acting all pissed off, but he couldn’t keep a straight face. Hey, we all make mistakes. But that was a nig one.
One Final Note: Unfortunately, this list is by no means complete. Sometime in the future, I’ll write about more embarrassing poker moments.