Many of you have seen the hideously kitsch portrait of poker playing presidents.
There are two versions — one with Republicans (above), the other with Democrats (at end of column). I’ll assess them in bi-partisan fashion. Both are atrocious. They make the poker playing dogs look like The Last Supper.
The Republican poker game includes Abraham Lincoln hosting his pals — George Bush, Sr., Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Jr., Dwight D. Eisenhower, Theodore Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, and Gerald Ford. Some psychopath even painted Sarah Palin into the most current version. If I had the opportunity to stake someone in that lineup, I’d bankroll Nixon in a Watergate minute. My reasoning is simple: He’d be willing to cheat to win. That makes him an easy favorite in Republican Party politics.
The Democratic poker game is equally preposterous. Thomas Jefferson is the table captain, joined by his chums — Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jimmy Carter, John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Lyndon B. Johnson, Woodrow Wilson, and Harry Truman. In this field, I’d make Johnson the clear favorite, that is, unless the game was played in Vietnam. Jimmy Carter might as well be drawing dead.
Watching Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) flounder and fumble his way through multiple hours of congressional testimony on Wednesday reminded me of painful memories on my high school debate team.
I was engaged in a debate on some topic or other and as we went back and forth, I gradually came to realize the futility of my arguments. By the closing remarks, I was in complete agreement with the other side. Unfortunately, when engaged in a team debate competition, one can’t simply concede defeat and walk off the stage. So, I used my final summation to run through the motions in a halfhearted attempt save some face and then exit the room as quickly as possible.
I was delighted to be invited to play in last night’s poker charity event held at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas.
Each year for as long as I can remember, poker pro and legend Jennifer Harman has given something back by organizing and hosting a charity benefit for the Nevada SPCA (be warned about visiting the site — you might fall in love and end up adopting an animal). The Nevada SPCA does fabulous work rescuing needy animals, and helping to find them loving homes. I cannot write or say enough good things for this organization and the fine people who do this kind of work.
Friday night’s gala included several speeches, public and silent auctions, a red carpet extravaganza, dozens of cute and cuddly animals, and a charity poker tournament designed to raise money for the Nevada SPCA. We were informed that for each $50 raised, that would save one dog or cat. Hundreds of people showed up, and 180 players entered the tournament, with multiple re-buys. First place was a seat into next year’s WSOP Main Event Championship valued at $10,000 (which would have been ironic had I won it, since due to obvious restrictions I would not be able to play). What really mattered was coming out, supporting this great cause, and helping to raise awareness for these innocent animals who desperately need our love and care, and deserve so much more than the tough beats these creatures have been dealt in life.
Full Disclosure: From 2004 through 2006, I served as Director of Communications for PokerStars.com (Rational Gaming Enterprises). The views expressed herein do not reflect the opinions of my past or present employers or associates in any way. My views are entirely my own.
All I could think about last night, upon hearing that PokerStars.com had finally been approved to operate legally on U.S. soil for the very first time was what must have been going on in the mind of Isai Scheinberg — the founder and pioneering force behind the company that I served loyally for nearly three years.
Somewhere out there, he must be smiling.
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.
JACK MCCLELLAND — A MAN WITH HEART (February 2014)
AN UPDATE FROM JACK MCCLELLAND (September 2014)
THOUGHTS ON JACK MCLELLAND’S INDUCTION INTO THE POKER HALL OF FAME (October 2014)