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Posted by on Sep 2, 2013 in Blog, Facing the Firing Squad | 2 comments

Facing the Firing Squad: Lee Davy





Lee Davy is a complex man who defies simple description.

He’s probably best known (to most) as a poker journalist and podcast personality, often asking the most penetrating and personal questions of his many subjects, not only about the game, but about life.  Indeed, being interviewed one-on-one by Davy makes the guest feel like patient reclined inside a psychiatrist’s office.  All Davy lacks is the customary leather sofa and the pipe typically associated with Sherlock Holmes.  Yet, he never judges, only questions.

Davy was born in Manchester, England in 1975.  When he was 16, he left school and started working for the British Railway system.  He spent the next 19-years out and about on the railroads.  But Davy’s real journey wasn’t working on trains.  It was struggling within himself.

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Posted by on Aug 7, 2013 in Blog, Facing the Firing Squad | 0 comments

Facing the Firing Squad: Brad Willis


Brad Willis Writer (2) (305x306)


Brad Willis (a.k.a. “Otis”)

Brad Willis is popular writer and blogger from Greenville, South Carolina. 

He’s a former award-winning television reporter who now spends most of his time writing fiction and non-fiction.  His articles and essays on numerous subjects — from poker to poker to philosophy to being a dad — have been widely published in various newspapers, magazines, and websites. 

Within the poker world, he’s best known as the official blogger for the PokerStars.  Brad spends much of his time writing from home and occasionally traveling the world writing about poker events, where he’s one of the most respected voices in the business.

Willis grew up near the Ozark Mountains.  He earned a degree in Broadcast Journalism from one of the best schools in the country in that field — the University of Missouri.  Willis spent the next few years working as a reporter in the Midwest.  He eventually moved on to South Carolina where he landed a job with the news department of a television station.  He covered crime and politics, which led to a breakthrough career progression.  From Willis’ official website comes the following: 

“He covered one of the first notable school shootings and the decades late conviction of Ku Klux Klansman Samuel Bowers.  He reported from the South Carolina State Capitol building as the Confederate Flag was lowered from its dome for the last time.  Willis also created a series of reports that held politicians accountable for the truthfulness in their advertising, a formula that has been oft repeated in the years since.  That series won the National Headliner Award Best of Show.  Willis’ investigative reporting received several awards from the Associated Press, Southeast Regional Emmy Awards, South Carolina Broadcasters Association, and the National Headliner Awards.”

In 2005, Willis ventured off in a totally different direction.  He joined as their lead blogger.  In the years since then, Willis has written thousands of blogs and articles not only about poker but about the people in the game and the many issues and controversies that have been a part of poker’s growth.  He also continues to freelance write on a variety of subjects (readers are encouraged to read his essays and works of fiction).  His official website contains many of his best writings and can be found here:  BRADWILLIS.NET

Willis’ level of respect from his readers is surpassed only by the esteem he enjoys within the inner circle of the poker press.  He’s a consistent voice of reason, optimism, and enlightenment.  Today, Willis resides in Greenville, along with his wife and two sons.

If you’d like to get in touch with Brad Willis, and I urge you to do so, you can reach him in the following ways:

TWITTER:  @BradWillis
FACEBOOK:  bradwillis
KLOUT:  BradWillis
INSTAGRAM:  brad_willis
GOOGLE+:  Brad Willis


What are some of the things you stand for?

Altruism, honesty, dangerously hot showers, relentless curiosity, a well-crafted cocktail, indiscriminate hugging, tolerance, loyalty, and the Oxford comma


What are some of the things you stand against?

Well-done beef, disingenuous discourse, impatience, deep-dish pizza, blind allegiance, and fear mongering


What living person do you admire the most, and why?

My mother, a woman whose only fault is that she never thinks of herself first. Or second. Or third.


What historical figure do you admire the most, and why?

Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain), a man who with words alone could skewer and char the worst of American culture, politics, and religion. His legacy of decency and cleverly-cloaked activism make him an American hero.


What living person do you despise?

I feel like I need to know a person to despise him, and I don’t despise anyone I know. But I despise what Reverend Fred Phelps, the Koch Brothers, Glenn Beck, and their supporters–tacit and otherwise–represent. They are America’s cultural cancer.


If money were not an object, what profession would you chose?

I would be a writer moonlighting as a guy who’s sings cover songs to open-air beach bar tourists in St. John.


What is it about yourself that you are most proud of?

Against all odds, I have a family and friends who tell me they love me and seem to mean it. Also, I make a mean gumbo.


What is it about yourself that you’d like to change?

I wish I were an extrovert instead of an introvert posing as an extrovert. I could also do with a smaller nose and a better hairline.


What’s the most exciting thing you’ve ever done?

I’ve been the first to hear a murderer’s confession. I’ve been (lightly) assaulted by another murderer. I’ve chased a bank robber and had him insult my mother. I’ve taken cover during a firefight between cops and cop killers. But my heart has never beaten faster than when my kids were born.


What’s the most unusual time and place you’ve ever visited?

Though I’ve traveled the world and seen much, it was covering the fifth trial (the first four resulted in mistrials) of Samuel Bowers (White Knights of the KKK co-founder) for the murder of Vernon Dahmer. It transported me from 1998 to one of America’s most shameful and horrific periods.


Name a place you’ve never visited where you still want to go.

I need to spend some time in Australia and New Zealand.


Favorite book, favorite movie, and favorite musician.

Oddly, this question makes me more uncomfortable than the rest. Books, movies, and films are like children. I can’t play favorites. In books, I’ve recently I’ve loved Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk and Super Sad True Love Story. My iTunes account is overrun with Bob Dylan, Steve Earle, Gram Parsons, The Wood Brothers, and the Black Crowes. I’m inordinately excited about seeing John Fogerty this summer. And I’ve seen Goodfellas and Fargo more times than any reasonable person should.


What upsets you the most?

A child’s suffering, pain, fear, or death and those people who can easily ignore it or consider it collateral damage if it counters their belief system.


What bores you?

Small talk, rice pilaf, foolish consistency, sports trivia, scripted reality television, know-it-alls, green tea, Kansas (the state, not the band)


Do you believe in an afterlife and why do you believe it so?

The answer to this question often conjures (often incorrect) presumptions about a person’s belief system, which is why I think it’s more interesting and instructive to measure a man and the strength of his character by whether he could act morally today without the promise of everlasting life or punishment of eternal hellfire. Or better put, how would you conduct your life if you knew there was no afterlife?


Brad Willis Writer (1) (387x376)



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Posted by on Aug 2, 2013 in Blog, Book Reviews, Facing the Firing Squad | 0 comments

Facing the Firing Squad: Tony Holden




Tony Holden

British author Anthony Holden has long been one of my very favorite dining and drinking companions — which is really saying something given the royal court of personalities who have shared my table.  For instance, I rarely drink Merlot.  However, since Holden inexplicably prefers Merlot, I will drink Merlot only in his presence (especially when he’s picking up the tab).  Such is the totality of my respect for this 66-year-old wordsmith from Oxford.  

Alas, Holden’s extraordinary gift for creating non-fiction narrative is exceeded only by his unrivaled diversity of personal interests, partially reflected in the three dozen books he’s written.

To most poker players, Holden is probably best known for his watershed creation titled, “Big Deal:  A Year as a Professional Poker Player,” one of the first-ever insider accounts of what the offbeat poker scene was like during the formative period before what later became the boom era.  While creating “Big Deal,” Holden enjoyed one of the most unique experiences imaginable for a writer normally accustomed to interviewing people with “Sir” as a salutation.  The book turned into an international best-seller that captured many larger then life personalities and the true essence of the game during the late 1980’s.  Twenty years later, he created an experienced a redux of sorts, known as “Bigger Deal:  A Year on the Poker Circuit.”

But poker only scratches the surface of what’s been a busy literary workshop spanning four decades featuring biographies of Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, and Lady Diana — to name just a few.  In fact, Holden has authored 13 books in all on English royalty, earning him the trademark throughout the U.K. as the (unofficial) “royal biographer.”  Consider just a few of his adventures, which includes earning the ire of the Prince of Wales for his account of events.  In typical Holden fashion, just as with poker sometime later, he once went behind the scenes to capture the real story behind the illusion known as the monarchy.  That became “A Week in the Life of the Royal Family,” published in 1983.

As if royalty and poker weren’t enough to keep him writing full-time, Holden has also penned four books relating to William Shakespeare, two on Sir Laurence Olivier, one more on Tchaikovsky, as well as several other fascinating people and subjects.  Holden’s latest literary project — expected to be published next year — is a collection of poetry hand-selected by many of the world’s most famous people, with these guest authors revealing to readers why certain poems and lietary passages held special meaning in their lives. 

As for biography, Holden has previously lived and worked in both Washington, DC and New York City, but now once again calls his native England home.  He lives and does most his writing from a breathtaking flat overlooking the Thames River in central London.  No doubt, that’s from where the following answers came, marinated by a bottle of Holden’s favorite Merlot.

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Posted by on Jul 26, 2013 in Blog, Facing the Firing Squad, General Poker, World Series of Poker | 9 comments

Facing the Firing Squad: Kara Scott




 Kara Scott


Canadian-born Kara Scott is best known to many as the stunning face and radiant smile on ESPN’s World Series of Poker coverage.  Her natural empathy and grace shines through to the audience, even while conducting interviews no one wants to do or give, which are the dreaded on-camera exchanges moments after players bust out — dreams shattered.  It takes just the right tone to pull this off, and Kara does it like no one else.

Kara was born on the frigid plains of northern Alberta — well not actually on the plains, but in a hospital where it really gets cold.  In 1999, she moved to the U.K. where she lived for ten years.  During that time, Kara established herself as a television personality and journalist.  She became an associate producer and the on-air host for a martial arts show.  She later co-anchored the world backgammon championships.  A longtime poker player, Kara also began working on poker shows, most notable Poker Night Live, High Stakes Poker, and multiple events on the European Poker Tour.  In 2010, she joined ESPN and Poker Productions as the primary reporter for both live and taped coverage on the tournament floor for the WSOP.

Too often seen as just a pretty face, her results as a player often get overlooked.  Kara plays in relatively few events because of her busy work schedule.  However, she was the only female to cash in both the 2008 and 2009 WSOP Main Events (finishing in 104th place out of 6,844 entrants, and 238th out of 6,494 entrants, respectively).  She also finished second in the 2009 Irish Open, earning her best tournament score ever — about $500,000 in prize money.

Earlier this year, Kara moved to Northern Italy where she currently resides.  She also recently became engaged.

A fierce advocate for things she believes in, Kara was eager to meet the latest challenge of facing the firing squad:

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Posted by on Jul 18, 2013 in Blog, Facing the Firing Squad | 4 comments

Facing the Firing Squad: Danielle Andersen




Meet Danielle Andersen

I had never heard of, nor did I know, Danielle Andersen prior to the showing of a new poker documentary called Bet, Raise, Fold — which is the story of online poker and its impact on millions of people, including this stay-at-home mom.  Aside from Danielle absolutely stealing the movie, what impressed me most was her willingness to reveal herself to the world.  That takes great courage.  We all want to show our best side at all times.  Most of us are afraid of revealing our vulnerabilies.  However, Danielle was willing to show us everything — the ups and down, the triumphs and toils of making a living as an online poker pro.

When we watched Danielle up on the big screen — as a devoted mother, as a wife, as the online poker pro — we knew we were watching someone really special, someone trying to find the balance in her life and somehow have it all.  I suppose we all want that, which is what makes Danielle so compelling, not just as the star of the movie, but as a poker player to watch in the months and years ahead.  Indeed — poker, family life, financial independence, and perhaps most important of all — the self-satisfaction of accomplishing something that not everyone can do is not easy to achieve.

Make no mistake, Danielle can play.  And when I say that, I mean she’s used to playing for pots worth what my house is valued at (according to one of our recent Twitter exchanges).  Yet, Danielle also comes off a disappointing 2013 World Series of Poker, which is precisely when she agreed to complete this questionnaire.  In some ways, that makes her even more interesting to watch and — dare I say — root for in every way.  True to her nature, she didn’t duck a single question Danielle is also worth following on Twitter (dmoongirl).  She lives in Minnesota with her most-supportive husband and son. 

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