Today at Harveys Lake Tahoe, “Captain” Tom Franklin sang the National Anthem. He’s a Marine Corps veteran who served in the Vietnam War. Franklin has been a professional poker player for more than 20 years. He’s also a World Series of Poker gold bracelet winner.
One thing is for sure. It takes real guts to enlist and then serve in combat, as Franklin did. It also take courage to stand up in front of 500 people and sing the National Anthem without any musical accompaniment.
Here’s a video of my introduction of Franklin, followed by his rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner.
If you’re a serious poker player or fan of the game, then you probably already know the name — Matt Matros.
He’s won three World Series of Poker gold bracelets. I was privileged enough to be at tableside with him during each one of them.
Matros’ specialty is Limit Hold’em. But he masters just about any game that’s based on numbers and percentages. He’s also extraordinarily gifted as a writer — having written at least one book (I believe he’s just finished another, which is a work of fiction).
I knew Matros before he was somewhat famous. When I resided in Washington, DC — Matros contacted me out of the blue because he was looking for a poker game to play in, and he figured I might know the local scene. Matros wrote about that experience and the game he ultimately found in his excellent book titled, The Education of a Poker Player.
I don’t do very well at making predictions. But I knew one thing the first time I met Matros — an initial instinct confirmed by more conversations and e-mail exxchanges with the Yale graduate, who now lives in New York City. And that was Matros was considerably smarter than me, and no doubt far more disciplined in just about everything he does. But he’s never one to behave as though that’s the case, with anyone. Matros initially thought he might learn something from me when contacting me about poker years ago, perhaps as someone a little older and more experienced in the business. But the more I have gotten to know Matros, I’m the one who has become the dedicated student.
Aside from President Obama and former Gov. Romney, there were several other winners and losers in Tuesday’s election.
Most are obvious.
Some are less so.
Here are the biggest losers of all, listed in no particular order:
Note: This is Part 2. The first part contained at least one glaring ommission, which was pointed out to me by poker pro Adam Junglen. I undoubtedly should have mentioned statistician and writer Nate Silver — who nailed the election results with his forecast. Aside from forgetting Silver, the biggest winners can be seen here: THE BIGGEST WINNERS IN THE 2012 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
1. Karl Rove and American Crossroads (PAC) — These buffoons blew a whopping $80 million in a losing cause. EIGHTY MILLION DOLLARS! Former Bush hatchet-man Karl Rove (who’s vastly overrated as a political strategist) scrambled around the country for a year, promising wealthy donors that with their money funding his discretionary torpedo campaign he’d be able wipe out President Obama. One wealthy donor was reportedly duped into forking over $19 million for Rove and his cronies to blow. After the election, Rove took no responsibility for his failure. He even had the audacity to blame President Obama’s victory on “voter suppression.” The man has no shame, and obviously no character.
I’m visiting South Lake Tahoe for the next two weeks. It’s going to be a busy weekend with the World Series of Poker Circuit in town. The Heavenly Ski Resort is also opening up sometime next week. So let’s talk about one of my favorite subjects — great food!
Aside from President bama and former Gov. Romney, there were several other winners and losers in Tuesday’s election. Many are obvious. Some are not quite so obvious.
Here are some of the biggest winners, listed in no particular order:
Note: This is Part 1. Coming next, Part 2 will list the biggest losers.
1. Civil Rights Activists / Gay Rights Proponents — The prospect of a majority vote in support of gay marriage would have been utterly unthinkable a few years ago. As recently as 2004, ballot measures on civil rights for all not only failed, but were cited as a key reason why former President George Bush mobilized his conservative voting base in some swing states and won re-election. No more. Last Tuesday, three states — including Maine, Maryland, and Washington — voted for ballot initiatives in support of gay marriage. The historical significance of this victory cannot be overstated. It’s the first time that a majority of voters (statewide) elected to support equal rights for gays. And, it didn’t happen in just one state — it happened in three. History will look back upon 2012 as a watershed year for true constitutional protection for all, much like 1964 was the key year for civil rights legislation.
I eat while driving — many times with a knife and fork (fortunately, the car has good alignment so I don’t need to have my hands on the wheel).
I used to shave while driving — that was before I quit shaving.
As for drinking while driving, let’s just not go there. Don’t ask, don’t tell.
But one thing I most certainly will not never do again is eat a bowl of hot chili while driving.
En route from Las Vegas to Lake Tahoe a few days ago, I stopped off in Bishop, CA There was no way in hell I was going to waste 20 minutes sitting in the restaurant eating, when the more practical thing was to get the food “to go.” I call this multi-tasking.
Well, you can see what happened from the photo above. I won’t even show you what my shirt looked like, which now pretty much looks like an infant’s bib. I dribbled chili all over myself like a two-year-old. Fortunately, the chili wasn’t steaming hot or it might have burned the family jewels.
Which leads me to wonder — if I scorched my crotch eating hot chili, could I sue the restaurant for a million dollars like the bat-shit crazy hot coffee lady?
Everyone seems to have an opinion as to why President Obama won a second term. Similarly, those same opinions also apply to why Mitt Romney lost.
Here are my thoughts as to why the election turned out as it did:
1. Obama’s superior political organization — Even those who are opposed to Obama will concede his extraordinary talents as a campaigner. Just as important was his well-oiled political organization which micro-managed another victory. Obama may very well have run the two most effective campaigns in American history — (If there’s still any doubt, think of the odds going into 2008 that a Black man with the name “Barack Hussein Obama” would be elected on a national level). Obama won states and regions he needed to win to get re-elected, which is a testament to a phenomenal strategy and organization.
2. Romney’s “47 percent” comment — All elections have key moments that become tipping points. Not only the revelation but the actual existence of a video showing Romney speaking candidly to wealthy donors and dismissing nearly half the U.S. population was an albatross that proved to be impossible to shake.
3. Romney’s perceived opposition to women’s equality — Look at the numbers. They don’t lie. President Obama won over women by nearly ten points over Romney — a staggering statistic. Sure, Romney carried male voters — but by a much smaller margin.. No doubt, Romney’s waffling on the “equal pay for equal work” cost him some votes, combined with some very conservative ideas on women’s issues that undoubtedly turned off many (mostly) younger women.
You have been entrusted with the greatest privilege any American can be given. That is the honor of leading our nation.
Over the next four years, you will face many tough decisions. If there are doubts about which direction to go, I have a few words of advice: Remember the message that got you elected. Remember the things you stood for that won you 60 million votes, not just once — but twice. Remember the causes you championed out on the campaign trail that brought cheers from the crowds. Those were not conservative ideas. They were not even moderate ideas. For the most part, they were liberal ideas. That’s what got you elected, Mr. President — a second time.
Here’s a two-minute video clip of the final hand of the 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event Championship.
While ESPN does a remarkable job in its coverage, this video shows what it’s like to sit in the audience and watch poker history unfold.
The film quality is average, but viewers get a pretty good glimpse into the excitement of the room that night, and how the crowd reacted at the Penn and Teller Theatre at the Rio Las Vegas. This was shot at about 4:45 am on Oct. 31, 2012.
When I shot this video, I was positioned directly behind second-place finisher Jesse Sylvia’s supporters, who predictably had a much more subdued reaction to the final hand. The bulk of Merson’s supporters are in the foreground and swarm the stage at the moment of victory.