I was delighted to be invited to play in last night’s poker charity event held at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas.
Each year for as long as I can remember, poker pro and legend Jennifer Harman has given something back by organizing and hosting a charity benefit for the Nevada SPCA (be warned about visiting the site — you might fall in love and end up adopting an animal). The Nevada SPCA does fabulous work rescuing needy animals, and helping to find them loving homes. I cannot write or say enough good things for this organization and the fine people who do this kind of work.
Friday night’s gala included several speeches, public and silent auctions, a red carpet extravaganza, dozens of cute and cuddly animals, and a charity poker tournament designed to raise money for the Nevada SPCA. We were informed that for each $50 raised, that would save one dog or cat. Hundreds of people showed up, and 180 players entered the tournament, with multiple re-buys. First place was a seat into next year’s WSOP Main Event Championship valued at $10,000 (which would have been ironic had I won it, since due to obvious restrictions I would not be able to play). What really mattered was coming out, supporting this great cause, and helping to raise awareness for these innocent animals who desperately need our love and care, and deserve so much more than the tough beats these creatures have been dealt in life.
(Photo: At the 2002 World Series of Poker….with no grey hair yet)
Here’s another sampling of my private collection of poker photography.
All of my snapshots were taken between the years 1997 and 2003. They were locked inside a file cabinet for more than a decade. Now I think is a good time to share these images with those of you who enjoy looking back on the game’s history. With the 2014 world championship November Nine as well as the Poker Hall of Fame announcement and induction ceremony coming soon, let’s now take a look back on some of poker’s best.
(Photo: Announcing final table action at the 2002 World Series of Poker)
It’s a privilege to be one of the 42 voting members for the Poker Hall of Fame.
This year’s class of ten nominees makes for one of the toughest ballots choices in history. The decision of voters is difficult, since virtually all those selected by the general public and the nominating committee are worthy of serious consideration. Looking at these names, I do believe that a majority of the nominees on this year’s list will eventually be inducted into poker’s most prestigious fraternity. For most of the people on this list, it’s just a matter of time.
One of the perks of working in poker for so long is being acquainted with many of the top players in the game, including quite a few poker legends. Over the years, I’ve managed to take a great many photographs. This was before camera phones existed, when you had to buy rolls of film and ten carefully choose the best shots. Most of these photos have never been published before, in part because I’m a lousy photographer.
That said, in the coming months ahead, I’ll post a collection of photos that I’ve snapped over the years, taken between 1993 and the present. I’ve probably accumulated 500 or so interesting photos, which is a decent collection, but nothing on par with past WSOP photographers including Eric Harkins, Larry Grossman, or Ulvis Alberts. They have thousands, if not tens of thousands of images.
Today, I’m including a mix of poker players connected in some way to the Poker Hall of Fame discussion, along with my memories of what was going on when the photo was taken.
Today is one of my favorite days on the World Series of Poker schedule. The Seniors Championship is played today, which is open to any poker player aged 50 and up.
The Seniors Championship brings a lot of old faces together. However, the emphasis here isn’t on “old.” Frankly, I’m always surprised to see who’s turned 50. I suppose no matter what our age is, we all hope to be able to play in this tournament at some point. It sure beats the alternative.
The official induction ceremony for the Poker Hall of Fame — Class of 2013 — took place on Sunday night at the Rio. I was privileged to emcee the event, at the request of WSOP executive director Ty Stewart.
What an honor.
Being on stage among the Poker Hall of Fame members, both new and old, is a tremendous privilege. I hoped to give the induction ceremony the proper fanfare and reverence is deserves. In my view, the Poker Hall of Fame needs to be elevated greatly, and I was proud to see Caesars Interactive Entertainment (CIE), which oversees the entire process, put forth a fabulous show.
The reception and official ceremony were held at a really cool place which added to the atmosphere of celebration. The Winer Cellar at the Rio is somewhat overlooked, as it’s easy to miss when you walk by. After all, it’s actually in the cellar of the Masquerade Tower. Go downstairs and step inside, and it’s like you’re in France during harvest season. Wine bottles are everywhere. It’s like a cave.
CIE and the Rio put out a fabulous spread for the guests. Some of the best wines were poured freely (no Yellow Tail). I must admit, I had a tough time limiting my pre-speech wine tasting to five glasses.
The reception started at 5 pm. I’m sure you’ll be seeing photos and videos of the gathering in the days and weeks to come.