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Posted by on Mar 21, 2013 in Blog, Las Vegas, Sports Betting | 9 comments

How Peter Falcone Conned Me Out of $37,000 (Part 1)

 

peter-falcone

Thief

.

I.

Peter Falcone.

That’s a name I’ll never forget.  And it’s a name you should commit to memory.  I suspect this slime might be planning his next con out there somewhere — and his next victim could be you.

It’s said you can’t con an honest man, which I suppose is partially true.  Greed is tasty bait at the end of a very sharp hook.  And just when it seems you’re nibbling on a sure thing, the con man suddenly snaps this line and fishhooks a fresh catch.

In the summer of 2006, I became the fresh catch.  Nolan Dalla — Catch of the Day.

II.

I was the perfect target.

Trusting?  Check.  Distracted?  Check.  Cash on hand?  Check.  Stupid?  Check-mate.

Just days before the 2006 World Series of Poker was to begin, a six-week marathon I’d be working from start to finish, often 12 to 16 hours a day with no breaks, I was approached by my “friend” Peter Falcone.  We met at a local coffee shop.  Falcone announced he wanted to “talk business.”

Before getting into the details of that conversation, allow me to provide some background about Falcone and our friendship.

I initially met him and his wealthy girlfriend through some very trusted friends.  At the time, Falcone was dating an eccentric older woman named Betsy Superfon (yes — that’s really her name).  Betsy lived in a multi-million dollar mansion in the Malibu hills, which is one of the richest areas of the country.  She had made tens of millions of dollars as the purported queen of “1-900” phone sex lines back during the 1990’s.  In fact, she even knew Ruth Parasol, the woman who made her initial millions the same way (phone sex) and who later created PartyPoker.com (who became one of the world’s richest women).  Given her well-known connections to the phone sex business, Betsy Superfon was often jokingly called “Superphone.”

No doubt, Betsy was the real deal.  Nice, sincere, always fun to be around — she was a welcome addition to any social gathering.  And for several months she always showed up in the same circles where I hung out — casinos, cardrooms, parties, fancy restaurants in both Las Vegas and Los Angeles — with a somewhat younger man introduced to everyone as Peter Falcone.

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Posted by on Mar 3, 2013 in Blog, General Poker, Las Vegas | 1 comment

Rags to Riches: How Mark Fleddermann Turned $4 into $65,000

Mark Fleddermann

 

Chances are, you’ve never heard of Mark Fleddermann.

Until now.

Over the years, he’s led what can be described as an unglamorous existence, grinding out at living at the poker tables.  If surviving on a fluctuating bankroll and weathering the financial swings that accompany playing for a living were to be an art form, then Fleddermann would be poker’s Picasso.

By 2009, Fleddermann had long since departed his cherished St. Louis roots and had moved to Las Vegas.  Trouble was, the poker games on The Strip were getting much tougher during the post-boom era and Fleddermann was going through one of the worst runs of his life.  Making matters worse, the world economy had tanked by January of that year, leaving many of the game’s best players scrambling trying to raise a stake.

Nearly penniless, Fleddermann was nearly out of options.  That’s when his old pal Tom Christopher stepped into the picture.

Fellow veteran grinder and St. Louis native Christopher was just as fed up with the Las Vegas poker scene.  So, the desperate duo started mulling over the possibilities.  It was perfectly clear.  They needed to do something drastic.  It was time to get out of town.  Trouble was — both men were busted.  Besides, where would they go?  What would they do?  Get jobs?  Shudder.

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Posted by on Feb 16, 2013 in Blog, General Poker, Las Vegas | 4 comments

A Phil Ivey Story

phil-ivey-493x369

 

The first thing I heard was the roar of the engine.

It was Phil Ivey’s silver Mercedes SLR McLaren and the beast was barreling straight towards me.

If I ever get flattened by a motor vehicle, I hope to hell it’s a $285,000 luxury car.  What a way to go out with a bang.  Far more chivalrous getting mowed down by Ivey who’s late for his a golf match than being mashed by some late night boozer wheeling a Dodge Neon.

I somehow managed to survive that instant in the parking lot at TPC Las Vegas.  Question was, would I survive a full 18 holes playing with Ivey?

Let’s start with the obvious problem.  I’m a terrible golfer.

Wait.

Make that worse than terrible.  What’s a stronger adjective?

I’m horrifically shitty.  In other words, my golf game stinks.

Phil Ivey and Greg Raymer have no idea what they’re in for today.  Witnessing my golf game and sharing the embarrasment of me windmilling my way across the prairie will by like hauling an anvil around what I’m told is a six-mile, 18-hole golf course.  And, we must walk it all.  Carts aren’t permitted here.

Now, here’s where you have to understand what golf is really all about.  Anyone who thinks golf is about chasing some little white ball around a park and trying to hit it into a tiny hole, doesn’t have a fucking clue.  Golf is about two things — status and power.

Unfortunately, you can’t fake either.  Which pretty much leaves me fucked.

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Posted by on Feb 11, 2013 in Blog, Las Vegas | 4 comments

When a Picture is Worth More Than a Thousand Words

 

Sonny Liston, 1969

 

There’s an old saying, that a picture is worth a thousand words.

But there are also occasions when a picture isn’t quite all that it seems.

That’s the case with an eerie photograph in the corner of the Caesars Palace poker room.  This photo (above), taken by legendary photographer Neil Leifer, shows former Heavyweight Boxing World Champion Sonny Liston popped up at a blackjack table.  The photo was taken here at Caesars Palace in 1969.  Liston was signed as a host and promoter for the casino, which lasted only a short time.

Sonny Liston was a deeply troubled man.  He would be dead less than two years after this photo was taken.

*     *     *

I’ve been working the World Series of Poker Circuit stop here at Caesars Palace.  This marks the seventh straight year I’ve covered the event.

One of the many things that makes the Caesars Palace poker room unique is its collection of classic sports photography.  Most of the photos upon the walls are instantly recognizable to any sports fan.  Iconic images of Muhammad Ali, Vince Lombardi, Joe Namath, Casey Stengel, George Forman, Secretariat, Sonny Liston, and many others adorn the walls while cards are dealt, chips are stacked, and money cycles from pocket to pocket.

Most of the photos show moments of triumph and jubilation.  But one grave image reveals something far more disturbing.

The photo sadly and brilliantly captures Sonny Liston as he must have been at the precise moment it was taken.  This is a frightened man  This is a man who has lost all hope.  It’s a haunting portrait of a man staring sheepishly into the camera lens — his eyes seemingly crying out, help me.

Look closely.  Look into those eyes.  This is not the picture of a boxing champion.  Rather it’s the image of a busted and broken man who was used and ultimately discarded by those who profited from his talent and toil.

Sonny Liston’s story is the working man’s story.

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