At about 10:30 last night, the monotony of another mostly chatterless WSOP Main Event final table was broken by a giant panda rushing onto the stage and subsequently crashing at the feet of six stunned poker players, playing for millions of dollars.
That was undoubtedly one of the highlights of a November Nine final table atmosphere which has become the equivalent of poker’s giant one-ring circus held the Rio’s big top — an excuse for anyone and everyone who can spell POKER to dress up, drink up, chant, celebrate, and party like there’s no tomorow, all interspersed with a mind-boggling marathon of down time during which nothing much happens.
This is televised poker. This is the World Series of Poker championship. This is the culmination of the profound wisdom pontificated by recent Poker Hall of Fame inductee Tom McEvoy when he said, “Poker is hours and hours of boredom, punctuated by moments of sheer terror.”
Here are some of my most memorable moments from last night:
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.
It may be time to dump any financial interest you have in online poker sites.
Yesterday, the nation of Albania announced it’s banning foreign-based online poker sites — sort of like Albania’s “Black Frday.”
Holy shit, how will online poker survive?
The tiny bankrupt nation, by far the poorest in Europe, has been a basket case for decades. With 2.6 million people, it has about the same population size as Nevada. However, unlike Las Vegas and Reno, no one in human history has ever visited that awful place as a tourist. It’s the Detroit of Europe.
Note: I’m in Reno right now, making preparations from “Poker Night in America’s” upcoming visit to the Peppermill Casino. The ten-event series takes place November 15-25. This weekend, I’m headed back to Las Vegas for the Poker Hall of Fame induction ceremony, followed by the WSOP Main Event Championship finale, which wraps up on Tuesday night. In the meantime, “Poker Night in America” has annouced its third televised event, this time at the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh. See the official press release below:
Archie Karas shown at a craps table at Binion’s Horseshoe, circa 1995, during the greatest run in gambling history. (Photo courtesy of Sexton’s Corner)
If the legendary man who nearly “broke the bank at Monte Carlo” has a modern-day reincarnate, he is most certainly Archie Karas.
The Greek-born immigrant who arrived in the United States penniless as a teenager made headlines between 1993 and 1995, going on what’s been described as the greatest run ever in gambling history. A short time before Christmas Day, he arrived in Las Vegas with $50 in cash and ran it up to a figure reported as high as $45 million. The story goes, at one time during his hot streak, he possessed every single $5,000-denomination chip at Binion’s Horseshoe and very nearly ended up holding the note to the place.
But the odds inevitably caught up with Karas and just as effortlessly as he won it all, he lost it all back. Within a few years of the run of a lifetime, Karas was allegedly seen sleeping in a borrowed car during most nights out in a casino parking lot.