Chris Moneymaker’s stunning storybook victory in the 2003 World Series of Poker is rightly remembered as the seminal event when poker went from smoke-filled backrooms to boardrooms and living rooms. It the moment when poker grew up. It’s the dividing line between the good old days and the modern era. It ignited what became known as “the poker boom.”
A few weeks ago, BARGE was held at Binion’s Casino in Downtown Las Vegas. This marked my 22nd consecutive year to attend the annual poker and social gathering, which is a week-long festival of fun. This year might have been the last such event at Binion’s. We’ll see about that. However, BARGE is certain to continue being held somewhere in Las Vegas. Visit www.barge.org for more information.
Who would dare spend $188,000 on something that’s worth only $10,000 at face value?
An anonymous bidder at a Florida auction house recently purchased one of the rarest novelties of United States currency that’s ever been minted. Only about 300 of these so-called “bearer banknotes” are known to exist. They are so rare that most people probably wouldn’t be able to identify the face on the bill. Yet, there’s a good chance many of you reading this article have seen and even stood alongside one-hundred of these banknotes in pristine condition, unaware that collection represented about one-third of all such bills in the world. You may gave even had your photo taken with this one, which was sold. Although they do remain legal tender, the U.S. Treasury Department began pulling the banknotes from circulation in 1969. What remains out there has been snapped up by collectors. That’s what makes them so rare.
Last year, I had the honor of emceeing the induction of Jack McClelland into the Poker Hall of Fame
All poker players owe a debt of gratitude to Jack McClelland, who has dedicated much of his life to the game he loves.
Jack served as tournament director of the World Series of Poker for more than a decade (1988 through 1999). He later ran many of the biggest and most successful events on the World Poker Tour (2002 through 2012). Jack also served as Tournament Director at the Bellagio for many years, until his retirement in 2013. He’s also a devoted poker player.
Because we’ve worked together off and on and been friends for many years, Jack has shared news of his most recent health crisis with me on a regular basis. I knew that many within the poker community — players and industry professionals alike — would want to know about his condition, and be kept up to date as to how he’s dealing with a life-threatening situation. No doubt, thousands of people care about Jack and want him to pull through, while he awaits a heart transplant. He granted permission to release various updates, which culminated in his induction into the Poker Hall of Fame, last year.
Jennifer Shahade, a two-time United States Women’s Chess Champion, and now the winner of BARGE XXV
This past week, I attended BARGE 2015, held in Las Vegas.
B.A.R.G.E. is actually an acronym meaning “Big August Recreational Gambling Excursion,” a name sounding a bit pompous and pretty like a weekend gambling junket, which I’m told is precisely what it once was when it first began 25 years ago. This eclectic group comprised of both men and women skews somewhat older now than when it was initially made up of lots of Silicon Valley types in their late 20’s. Today, BARGE includes loyal attendees ranging from 21 up well into their 70’s. It’s an astounding makeup of highly-interesting and supremely talented people from all over North America, who also know how to have fun both at the poker table, and just about anywhere else for that matter. BARGE attendees never ask where the party or the action is taking place. They are the party and provide the action, wherever they go. Make that — wherever we go.
In today’s column, I’d like to tell you a bit more about BARGE, including some of the unique history of this group as well as my personal experience from this past week. Unfortunately, lack of time and space makes this a writing exercise in futility since I’m hardly scratching the surface. Indeed, what follows is merely one card from a far more extensive full deck loaded with memories and stories.