This short 80-second video was taken just moments after Greg Merson, a 24-year-old poker pro from Laurel, Maryland became the 2012 world poker champion. His victory took place on the Penn and Teller Stage at the Rio in Las Vegas.
This vantage point shows ESPN cameras and some stage direction in the show’s closing moments, following a record-setting final table that lasted 399 hands.
Jake Balsiger, a 21-year-old college student at Arizona State University, had a chance to become the youngest world champion in poker history. However, he ended up finshing in third place, which paid a nice consolation prize of nearly $4 million.
Balsiger lasted nearly 11 hours in a three-handed marathon that set the record as the longest span ever recorded without a bustout in the Main Event Championship.
After he was eliminated at 5 am on October 31, 2012, I shot this short video of Balsiger at his press conference at the Rio in Las Vegas. Considering the battle he’d endured and the disappointment he must have felt at having played so long, and still finished third (he actually had the chip lead at one point), Balsiger appears remarkably positive and upbeat.
I think this video is the perfect testament to a remarkable young man who enjoyed an incredible once-in-a-lifetime run at the World Series of Poker.
Note to readers: I shot this video on Monday night, just as Michael Esposito busted out of the 2012 world poker championship in seventh place. The video shows Esposito leaving the ESPN stage area after being inteviewed by Kara Scott. He is escorted out the back door and to waiting family and freinds, as well as a press conference. The WSOP’s Seth Palansky, who accompanies Esposito in this short video, tries to make the walk a little less disappointing.
Game or a movie? “Erica” is a surprisingly good mix of both
Thanks to smartphones, pretty much everyone is gaming these days. But what I was interested in was this new interactive movie “Erica,” which is currently a PlayStation 4 exclusive and would cost you $10.
Interactive movies are not a new concept, as they were trendy during the nineties. Not a lot of them were worthy of your time, so I was a bit skeptical about this one. But I was surprised to find a strong story here. Erica (played by Holly Earl) is a young girl that is surrounded by death and mystery she is trying to solve. I wouldn’t want to spoil anything, but this is a thriller where the key is to know who to trust. Sometimes, that’s not an easy task, so you’ll have to play it by heart. At other times, you’ll find clues and hints that should help you make the decisions. Your choices will move the story in different directions, and the experience will last somewhere between 90 minutes and three hours. The ending I’ve got was probably the best one, but even then, I had a lot of questions. Developers already explained we’ll have to experience different conclusions to understand the story, but I’m not sure I could do it in one sitting. Starting all over again also means that you’ll have to rewatch at least an hour of the same footage, so I would suggest making a pause. I would also recommend using a phone as your controller since the game uses only a touchscreen. You could, of course, use a PS4 controller, but this is a more elegant solution. Most of the time, I felt like I was playing the Best Free Sex Games, as the atmosphere was very intense, and I couldn’t predict what will happen next. Oh, and “Erica” is by far the best acted interactive movie so far and looks at least like an episode of top production show. That’s why I give it eight out of ten, especially if you are not planning to play it alone.
I’m doing something unusual this year, which is covering the championship from the audience’s point of view — which means writing and reporting on the atmosphere and happenings inside the Penn and Teller Theatre, rather than just the stage and final table. I’ll also relate some behind the scenes news.
Yesterday, sports bettors got a rude awakening. They weren’t just thrown under the proverbial bus. They were mauled by a 16-wheeler of steel-belted radials encrusted with heavy snow chains. Then, the bus cranked into reverse and the helpless collective known as the “American sports bettor” was flattened again.
In case you missed the news, sports gambling faced its own “vice squad-lite” version of so-called “Black Friday,” when authorities in New York went after several agents alleged to be involved in offshore sports gambling. The net of dozens of arrests stretched all the way from the East Coast to Las Vegas, and even entangled Cantor’s head of sports wagering.
My reaction to yesterday’s news wasn’t so much one of surprise, but rather mild curiosity as to why it took law enforcement so long to clamp down on a blatantly conspicuous activity that’s unequivocally forbidden in most localities and states, as well as outlawed nationally by the infamous 1961 Wire Act.
A few years ago, I penned an editorial for Bluff magazine on the odd and uneasy connection between two gambling sectors — poker and sports wagering — when it comes to fighting for legalization. Given the renewed timeliness of this issue, I thought it might be a good day to revisit this subject.
Readers and friends, sometimes one and the same, sometimes not, know of my profound affection for the words and ideas of the late writer and polemic Christopher Hitchens.
Hitchens, who died nearly a year ago, penned some 15 books over the course a bombastically bountiful career that spanned nearly three decades — the first half spent in the U.K., the nation of his birth, and the later half in the U.S., the country to which he eventually attached himself as a naturalized citizen. But his real citizenry was to free thought, ideas, and debate.
His writings which later morphed into hundreds of speeches and lectures, weren’t merely a concoction of loose words and phrases, they were carefully calculated steamrollers which flattened centuries’ accumulation of myths, trouncing the idolatry attached to those he so deservedly disdained, including most famously — Henry Kissinger and Mother Theresa.
Love him or hate him, you had to respect the man everyone who was fortunate enough to be included his inner circle of Vanity Fair elite lovingly called “Hitch.”
Hitch was unquestionably the bravest writer of our generation, almost recklessly unafraid of the fallout he would inevitably encounter for expressing what would both literally and figuratively be blasphemous to all aspects of our popular culture. I mean, you may not like to hear the things he said or read the things he wrote, and might not agree with the man, but one must admit — it takes balls to tear down Mother Teresa. Henry Kissinger, less so.
Consider the answer he once gave to a question as to what’s the most overrated virtue. Without any hestitation or ambiguity, Hitchens roared — “Faith, closely followed – in the overall shortage of time – by patience.”
There would indeed be a sad irony to Hitchens’ blistering answer here, which would be prophetic. No doubt, Hitchens’ life did finally run out of time, at a far less than complete 62 years. During the later stages of physical decline, mentally as strong as ever, he expressed his greatest regret at not being able to go another twenty more years, continuing to wage the war against intellectual servitude, where ever he saw it. And yet, faced with his own impending death and awareness thereof, Hitchens never once wavered from his own faith, a faith not cast towards some imaginary heaven, but the faith focused inward to the self. Hitchens never compromised his beliefs nor wavered in his consistency. One had to admire that.
During the final excruciatingly painful year of his life, when he was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus, and as he became increasingly aware of the fate awaiting him which would have no happy ending in spite of all the best doctors and alternative therapies, many who followed his career were eager to see the final fateful chapter played out. Instigated by his ceaseless bashing of religion with such veracity, some wondered if he might actually undergo a “foxhole conversion.”
That final melancholic year of his life, while being perhaps the most poignant era of his writing and speaking career, was also the most gripping. It was a car crash, a rubber-necking vouyeristic exercise for many driving by on life’s conjested highway, particularly for those who may have relished in the twisted irony of seeing a man put the ultimate test of his own “faith.” And that is the faith in one’s own constitution and belief set. Which, no matter what one’s views, are not always easy things to stand by.
Mortality is the final book written by Hitchens. It’s a far more personal narrative than anything previously written by the Oxford-educated iconoclast who made a career of arguing with cozy intellectual comfort zone of conventional wisdom.
To those unfamiliar with Hitchens – the man and his writings – the biggest surprise might be the absence of metaphorical violins in the narrative. Alas, there are no strings attached to these words, though if you admired the man as I did, his brave personal toil ultimately does pull at the heartstrings. To those more familiar with the man, remaining steadfastly convinced and comfortable with his position on matters of the spirit was hardly a surprise at all. It was, in fact, to be expected. It’s a walk to the gallows with a head held high. Even deviant.
At only 104 pages long, this is by far the shortest book of the author’s career. One plainly sees this is an incomplete work, just as it should be. There’s really no way to wrap it all up and put a pretty bow on top, as other memoirs of famous dying people often do, and Hitchens’ previous release Hitch-22 pretty much already covered all the bases of a career from A to Z. This is a closer examination of the “W-X-Y-Z” period of a man’s existence, embellished with far more personal revelations that previously released. We all know how this book is going to end, and the engrossment comes not from some 24th-hour surprise or late conversion, but rather from Hitchens’ poignant honesty, his refusal to airbrush his own angst which ultimately becomes the acquiescence of fate.
Indeed, while all of Hitchens other masterful works challenged us to think and taught us how to live, Mortality teaches us how to die, with honesty and dignity, while remaining true to ourselves. And that might be Hitchens’ most poignant parting gift to us all.
The short-lived Players Television Network debuted at the 2005 World Series of Poker.
I was asked to moderate two panel discussions, which were later broadcast via “On Demand.” The first show was on the late great poker legend Stu Ungar. SEE STU UNGAR FEATURE HERE The second show (featured here) was a panel discussion about the business of online poker.
I wasn’t at all prepared to assume the role of moderator. I recall leaving the rigors of my job at the WSOP for an hour our so, getting abruptly fitted with a microphone, and then walking out and taking a seat in front of a live studio audience and rolling television cameras with no script.
The good thing about the unrehearsed format is that everything was spontaneous. The bad thing is the show could have been much crisper had I been prepared. Looking back now, I certainly would have asked more penetrating questions than what appear here.
Fortunately, the three guests who appeared on the online poker segment were outstanding. Tony Cabot (one one of the world’s top legal experts on online gambling), Mike Sexton (then a consultant to PartyPoker), and Dan Goldman (then a consultant to PokerStars) were all in top form.
Even though this discussion might seem dated now seven years later, it holds up remakrably well over time. Many of the things discussed that day have happened, just as predicted.
Here’s that panel discussion from 2005 that runs about 40 minutes in length.
There was a moment in last night’s debate when Mitt Romney’s aspirations of becoming the 45th President of the United States came to a shattering end.
Perhaps the worst was a rambling, waffling, embarrassing, and thoroughly revealing two-minute soliloquy towards the end of the duel when Romney was utterly exposed — not just as a pretty little deer caught in the headlights– but as what will mercifully become political road kill come November 6th.
Unable to lay a glove on the chin of a heavyweght champion with a stellar foreign policy record (thanks in large part to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s masterful stewardship), Romney increasingly found himself in agreement with many of the President’s policies, as the night wore on.
It became apparent to millions of Americans watching that the Republican nominee is so thoroughly inept when it comes to international affairs, that he would essentially outsource his entire foreign policy to the same group of neo-conservative zealots (those who make up his current crop of advisors) who slapped us with two unnessary wars costing our nation a terrible loss of lives and treasure, while enriching their buddies like Blackwater who are entrenched in the ultra-lucrative killing business.