All friendships begin among strangers.
Just moments ago, a stranger came up to me at the Rio, here at the 2016 World Series of Poker. He said some nice things and after exchanging a few pleasantries, I assumed the short conversation had run its course.
Then, right as he was about to leave, he pulled a small piece of paper out of his pocket and showed me something that I found quite inspiring. The man’s name is Ron Elkins.
Now before going much further with the story, let me make it clear that I have no aspirations of winning a bundle of money at the WSOP. I work on the house side. So, I have to live my dreams vicariously through others. Yes, I’m impartial in my writings and coverage. But like anyone, I also cheer for my friends and the people I like.
Ron showed me a piece of paper, perhaps 2 inches by 3 inches. What captured my attention were the words written on the back side of a worn out business card.
Another World Series of Poker begins tomorrow.
Out of the 47 series which have taken place since the first small gathering at the old Binion’s Horseshoe back in 1970, I’ve attended about half of them — at least in some capacity as either a player, writer, or executive. My first WSOP was in 1985.
For the past 15 years, I’ve worked under the official title of “Media Director,” which has in recent years become something of a nom de plume. Let’s face it. The media can’t be directed. The last thing I have is any control over the media. It’s like herding cats.
I think most of us would agree this is a transitional time for poker, as well as for the WSOP. Then again, the game is always in a state of transition. Everything’s changing constantly. No two years, nor two series, nor two tournaments are ever comparable.
Mike Sexton has arguably done more for poker than anyone else in the game.
The longtime high-stakes cash game player and tournament champion, tireless promoter, writer, industry consultant, and popular television personality who’s probably best known to millions as the beaming host and commentator for the World Poker Tour hasn’t merely witnessed poker’s long and colorful history during all the times of boom and bust. He’s also been one of the integral piston rods driving the poker engine. Unlike many others who have chronicled the game’s most memorable moments from afar, merely as post-game observers, Sexton has actually sat in the most memorable games, played with all the legends, and been privy to secrets and many of the most intimate conversations which took place at many of the game’s most crucial junctions.
MEET JOE GIRON
Joe Giron might be the hardest-working man in poker that few people ever see. That’s because he’s always “behind the camera” — literally.
He’s been covering poker’s biggest events for more than a decade, spending night and day staking out the tables to find the perfect shot to capture that glorious moment of ecstasy or the agony of crushing disappointment. Getting that perfect image within the frame of the lens might take minutes or hours to set up. Like a hunter seeking its prey. Giron waits. He waits as long as it takes. Then, he pounces and snaps an image for posterity at just the right instant.
Daniel Negreanu played in a big poker tournament last week, which was on the Eureka Poker Tour.
Such a occurrence normally wouldn’t be anything out of the ordinary. This is especially true for Daniel — who travels all over the world playing poker and speaking out as the game’s premier ambassador. The news from Europe probably wouldn’t have caught my attention at all, except for one rather significant fact.
The poker tournament was held in Bucharest, Romania — a fascinating city where Daniel and I share some common bonds and a very different set of roots. I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that, in contrasting ways, Romania was and shall always be an impressionable part of our lives. To some degree, that faraway place in Eastern Europe made us into what we are today.