Writer’s Note: The opinions expressed here are entirely those of Nolan Dalla. These views do not reflect the official position of the World Series of Poker, Poker Hall of Fame, Caesars Entertainment, or its staff.
Nominations for the Poker Hall of Fame were opened to the public earlier this week. Poker players and fans from all over the world over the age of 21 may visit WSOP.COM and nominate any person they wish as a candidate for the Poker Hall of Fame.
The nomination process is only the first step towards selecting who will ultimately be enshrined as the “Class of 2012.” Usually, no more than one or two persons are inducted each year.
After nominations are accepted and closed, the top ten nominees will be placed on an official ballot. Those ballots will then be sent to a special voting committee, comprised of all existing Poker Hall of Fame inductees (living) and established media who have demonstrated a knowledge and commitment to the game for many years.
Persons who receive the most votes from the members of the special committee will become enshrined into the Poker Hall of Fame — as the Class of 2012. The official induction ceremony takes place on the night of the WSOP Main Event Championship finale, to be held in Las Vegas in late October.
I hate Philadelphia. It’s Detroit — with one major difference. There are actually people LIVING in Philadelphia.
Which begs a serious question, why the fuck would anyone want to LIVE in Philadelphia?
The first part of this blog will be an attempt to fill in that elusive blank with some kind of explanation. Call it a Hail Mary of logic.
I always feel compelled to give some background to these rants. I lived in the Northeast for ten years. I visited Philadelphia at least 100 times, so I’m no stranger to the scene. Ninety or so of those visits were passing through on the way to Atlantic City, but many occasions turned into what I can only describe as an anti-vacation vacation.
So, let’s play a little game, shall we?
Question: If I say a word, what word immediately comes into your mind? What image immediately comes up when confronted with the word “Philadelphia?” For instance, when one thinks of Denver, the rocky mountains come to mind. When one thinks of St. Louis, maybe it’s the famous Gateway Arch. With New Orleans, it’s probably the French Quarter.
My mental flash drive of Philadelphia pretty much is an crash dump of rusted out ship hulls, decaying half-empty warehouses, lead smelters, oil refineries, welfare cheats, and dark, dirty, cold impersonal streets littered with filth.
I know. Stereotyping is wrong, except for when it just so happens to be dead on accurate.
And so, I arrive in this hellhole on a Tuesday night. It’s 35 degrees, drizzling and getting dark, which seems like the ideal metaphoric mood for this miserable place.
From the outside, the so-called PHILADELPHIA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT looks EXACTLY like the new Aria (Las Vegas) — only if it were laying on it’s side. The airport is a giant gray steel and glass structure — kind of a cross between some Orwellianesque stage set and what one imagines the headquarters to the Social Security Administration to look like.
I remind myself that this will be one of three times I will actually fly into Philadelphia within a six-month period — which is three times too many as far as I’m concerned. I was here for two weeks back in December (nothing spoils the holiday spirit more than spending the Christmas preamble in weary action-starved Atlantic City).
What’s most astonishing is that some people actually take PRIDE in being from Philadelphia — which is sort of like admitting you were birthed out of the ass of a pit bull. I know people can’t help WHERE they were born. But show some fucking humility. Listen. No one is fucking impressed that you grew up where they filmed “Rocky” — correction. Make that Rocky 1, Rocky 2, Rocky 3, Rocky 4, and Rocky 5 — or that you flunked out of Penn. I mean this is a place where everyone in the city looks like Burt Young — and I’m talking about the females here. You’ve got nothing to be fucking proud of.
When I meet someone from Philadelphia, here’s what I EXPECT to hear. Takes notes:
“Hi! My name is Sal. Even though I have lived most of my life in a filthy hellhole with scumbags, it hasn’t rubbed off on me (too much) and I’m actually a pretty decent guy….if you give me the chance.”
I’m reasonable. I don’t judge.
That’s an introduction I can accept. Someone who speaks truth, from the heart.
Marieta and Nolan visit a favorite restaurant in South Florida — “Michelle Bernstein’s,” located in Palm Beach.
V: SINGER ISLAND — IN SEARCH OF BLACK TAIL
With Orlando mercifully in the rear-view mirror, it’s a two-hour drive south to West Palm Beach. The game plan is to relax on the sandy beaches of the coast for a few days and then begin a two-week work assignment, when the WSOP Circuit starts in mid-February.
During my previous visits to the West Palm Beach area, we always stayed on Singer Island, which is an exclusive coastal causeway of ritzy hotels and condos located just north of the city. It’s basically a giant retirement home for people with money. The sad fact is, however — every time I’ve gone onto Singer Island since, there are at least a half a dozen construction cranes destroying what was once an uncrowded pristine beach, turning into another Miami. Now, it’s pretty much wall to wall whitewashed high rises stacked along the ocean side, which makes me sad.
Unfortunately, the hotel prices have gotten so fucking ridiculous on Singer island that I can’t afford to stay there anymore. In the past, it’s always been around$150 a night, for a four-star hotel on the beach. Now, double that as the rack rate. And that’s the rate for a room facing the street on the second floor over the loading dock. It gets worse. Now, these fucking hotels charge you EXTRA for — an ocean view, a pool view, parking, and a refrigerator. Shameless thieves double the prices on the rooms and then try to double whack you with the extras.
During my preparations, I obsessed over a dozen websites looking for good hotel deals, to no avail. My previous favorite was the Hilton Singer Island, which I always thought was a good deal and location during my four previous stays there. This time, they wanted $279 a night plus tax, plus the extras. I figured five nights meant about $1,500, which is way over budget. So, I basically said SCREW THEM, and decided that Marieta and I would instead stay on Juno Beach, which is about four miles due north.
In short, Juno Island is NOW what Singer Island was ten years ago. Which means the greedy bloodsucking developers are eventually going to skull fuck it to death over the next decade until they milk every dollar out of the sand. Then, they’ll move on up to Jupiter, and so forth and so on. That’s how the game works. They call that “progress.”
Each and every time I must endure a trip to Florida, I’m reminded of the musings of writer Dave Barry.
Barry is (in)famous for his witty non-stop Florida-bashing. Since Barry actually resides in South Florida, he gets away with offending just about everyone in the Sunshine State. For two decades, Barry was a writer for The Miami Herald, penning a masterful column that was eventually nationally syndicated. Barry’s writings were routinely infused with humor at the expense of all the gator-skinned sun-baked Floridians — which he characterizes as doddering elderly, angry Cuban exiles, and crazed dope dealers all entwined in chaotic bliss. Okay, so actually that’s *my* characterization — not his.
I suspect that Barry got away with much of what he wrote largely because he’s one of “them.” It’s sort of like a family, or a fraternity, or a minority group. You can’t criticize and be funny at anyone’s expense without actually being a member of the crazy family.
Today’s settlement agreement between PokerStars and the United States Department of Justice (USDOJ), which includes an announcement that PokerStars will acquire the entirety of Full Tilt Poker’s global assets, is an encouraging development for all poker players, and particularly positive news for those owed monies via their immobilized account deposits.
In fact, today’s news is the first break in the black cloud that has hung over the poker industry for 15 months. Given PokerStars’ longstanding reputation for integrity and the commendable manner in which they handled their own player-deposit crisis during 2011, all poker players should be grateful to the ownership and management team of this company for assuming a leadership role in what have been troubled times for the poker industry.
However, today’s announcement does nothing, nor should in any way, abdicate any of the principals associated with Full Tilt Poker for their irresponsible actions, criminal or not. Neither does the announcement serve in any way to remedy the gross negligence that led up to the crisis, nor amend the utter indifference of Full Tilt Poker and its principals to the suffering of innumerable poker players who endured severe financial and emotional hardships since the events of April 2011.
Full Tilt Poker’s actions during both the pre- and post-Black Friday period, represented an unprecedented level of irresponsibility and a grotesque violation of trust. The damage these industry outcasts have done to players, public confidence, and the game overall lingers and will not be forgotten nor forgiven until the principals have provided explanation, apology, and restitution.
Conversely, the actions of PokerStars during this crisis have continued to win favor from the poker community at large. I am optimistic that all poker players – residing both inside and outside the United States — who are deemed “victims” in the precise language contained in the official press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York on this date will be reimbursed IN FULL (emphasis mine). Moreover, the USDOJ should do everything in its considerable powers to ensure that all monies are returned as quickly as possible to all victims.
Nolan Dalla Las Vegas, Nevada July 31, 2012
Writer’s Note: The opinions expressed here are my own and do not in any way reflect the position of any company, publication, website, or entity with which I have been associated.