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Posted by on Jun 2, 2015 in Blog, General Poker | 4 comments

Stu Ungar Artifact For Sale (Collecting Poker Memorabilia)

 

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One normally doesn’t think of poker as a game with memorabilia.

After all, poker isn’t like football or baseball — where balls, bats, uniform jerseys and other rare artifacts can sometimes fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars.  No matter how rare or unusual the item, it’s hard to imagine any poker artifact being worth much to a collector or viewed in the public eye as a cherished national treasure.

Some notable exceptions could be old decks of cards used in the old World Series of Poker championships dating back to the 1970s, and other keepsakes like table felts, chips, and various items which are exceptionally rare and have a unique story behind them.  Too bad most of them are long gone now.  For instance, if someone could dig up Doyle Brunson’s famous 10-2 off-suit, and by that I mean the actual cards that won world poker championships back-to-back in 1976 and 1977, one presumes they would attract significant interest at Christie’s Auction.  However, most items which may have ultimately become collectible were either tossed away or destroyed — except for poker chips, which is now a cottage industry all its own (see some of Andy Hughes postings on Facebook about chip collecting, which are history lessons in themselves).

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Posted by on Jun 1, 2015 in Blog, General Poker | 1 comment

Televised Poker About to Expand Again

 

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Writer’s Note:  There is other news in poker outside of what’s happening at the WSOP being held at the Rio Las Vegas.  Here’s press release on the latest from “Poker Night in America.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

MARIA HO AND DAVID TUCHMAN ANNOUNCED AS STARS FOR INNOVATIVE NEW TELEVISED POKER SERIES POWERED BY “POKER NIGHT IN AMERICA”

 

Las Vegas, NV (June 2, 2015) – The creators of Poker Night in America announced today they are launching a new television series called “Poker Night: The Tour” a new concept which will feature two of the game’s most popular poker pros — Maria Ho and David Tuchman. The series creators are also promising additional personalities will be joining the cast in the future.

“Last year, we launched a new series on CBS Sports Network called ‘Poker Night in America,’ which has proven to be a refreshing approach to showing the game on television and bringing in new viewers,” said PNIA and Rush Street Productions President and show founder Todd Anderson. “Next, we want to continue to push the envelope by developing this new tour and show. We’re excited to have both Maria and David joining the team and look forward to adding some additional star power in the coming weeks.”

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Posted by on May 27, 2015 in Blog, General Poker, World Series of Poker | 9 comments

Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right — Here I am at the 2015 WSOP

 

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There’s clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right.

Here I am,
Stuck in the middle with you.

 — Stealers Wheel (1972)

 

The 2015 World Series of Poker hasn’t even begun yet, and already I’ve been hit up for money in the hallway.

Seriously — what the fuck?

The world’s biggest poker event doesn’t begin until Wednesday at 11 am, but the panhandlers and parasites are apparently already patrolling the corridors of the Rio like it’s the gold rush, targeting the saps and suckers.

Earlier today, I was coming out of a meeting when I heard my name yelled from about 30 feet away.  That happens to me frequently and usually, it’s either a loyal reader of someone I know in poker.  Occasionally, it’s my annoying bookie who wants his money, in which case I pretend not to hear him and hastily scuffle off in the other direction.  This particular face looked vaguely familiar to me, but I couldn’t place it exactly.

I don’t usually care much for engaging small talk, but since I was walking in the same general direction, we engaged in pleasant conversation for a wee bit until I came to a big glass exit door heading out towards the parking lot.

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Posted by on May 22, 2015 in Blog, General Poker | 0 comments

Brains vs. Artificial Intelligence Poker Match Featured on PBS NewsHour

 

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The widely-discussed, hotly-debated, and much-anticipated heads-up poker match between human brains and artificial intelligence was featured recently on PBS NewsHour, one of the more prestigious mainstream media outlets doing in-depth journalism.

The 8-minute news report focused not only on the two-week-long series of No-Limit Hold’em matches played via computers which took place at the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh in early May, it also includes interviews with the principles, and touches upon larger implications of what’s ahead for artificial intelligence, not just as it pertains to poker, but far more ponderous ramifications in the job market, high finance, medicine, transportation systems, predictive modeling, and other fields where computers and machines could very well outperform, and therefore ultimately replace, real people.

Much of the footage used in the PBS broadcast was shot by camera crews from “Poker Night in America,” which will soon be putting together its own special feature on the events that unfolded in Pittsburgh.  When that project becomes complete, I’ll be posting more as I know more.

In the meantime, here’s the feature on PBS NewsHour, which is well worth watching:

Note:  Special thanks to Tony Mangnall and his crew. 

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Posted by on May 6, 2015 in Blog, General Poker | 1 comment

Remembering “Uncle Krunk” — Poker Loses Another Colorful Character (Robert Panitch 1952-2015)

 

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I just learned Robert Panitch passed away.  He was 63.

That name probably won’t resonate with many people.  Mr. Panitch was better known as “Uncle Krunk,” an oddball nickname given to him by some younger poker colleagues who traveled around the country with their cranky elder, attending various events along the national tournament circuit.  Seemingly weird and often grumpy, the “Uncle Krunk” moniker associated with Mr. Panitch gained a notoriety and hilarity all its own when his fictionalized Twitter persona became a sort of alter ego, often firing out riotous commentary about the contemporary poker scene.

However, as with many seemingly funny people who appear to be “different,” behind the crotchety mask was a deeply caring man with his own private set of circumstances and personal problems which where largely hidden away from public view.  Beneath the brusque exterior was a man with valiantly unwavering devotion.

The first time I met Mr. Panitch was at a World Series of Poker Circuit event in 2008, which was played in Hammond, Indiana — just outside his hometown of Chicago.  Mr. Panitch came into poker in his mid-50s and made his first final table appearance  As I was about to introduce him to the crowd, I asked for clarification on how to pronounce his name correctly.

“You can say ‘PAN’ can’t you?” he asked.

Yes, Sir.

“You can say ‘ITCH’ can’t you?” he asked.

Yes, Sir.

“Now put the two words together — ‘PAN-ITCH.’  There, that’s not too difficult for you, is it?”

No, Sir.

As I said, if you ever met or played poker with Mr. Panitch you probably remember something unusual about him.

Take for instance his strange eating habits while sitting at the poker table.  Mr. Panitch always carried a knapsack louded with various snacks tucked inside plastic baggies, and he nibbled at them constantly.  He consumed vast amounts of nuts and fruits and granola bars over the course of a day, which come to find out was part of a special diet.  When I reluctantly asked him once about his eating all the time, he informed me that he had health issues which required him to eat certain foods for their nutritional value.  He must have downed 10-15 snacks a day, but never seemed to gain a pound.

However, the most peculiar thing I remember about Mr. Panitch was his apparent repudiation of all forms of technology.  Once, when he qualified to play in the WSOP National Championship (in 2013) I asked Panitch for his e-mail address.

“I don’t have an e-mail address,” he snapped.  “I don’t use it.”

I’m not sure if he even owned a cell phone.  Mr. Panitch’s grumpy old man ways and “get off my lawn” crankiness was certainly no act.  He was the real deal.  Accordingly, a group of younger poker players somehow took this persona and created a Twitter account in his name, along with his photo, affectionately named “Uncle Krunk.”  While Mr. Panitch had nothing to do with either setting up the account nor any of the content, the Twitter posts made the semi-pro poker player famous for a time to the point where he enjoyed a cult following.

“Uncle Krunk” posts became laughably obscene, often spewing profanities, and yet he was almost always dead on accurate with scathing commentary about other players and the wackiness he and others observed at various tournament stops around the country.  The anonymous account set up with Mr. Panitch’s persona became a sort of inner demon and the collective consciousness of all tourney grinders, forced to put up with the incessant tanking of their opponents, poor hygiene, inane table chatter, and the innumerable challenges of trying to support oneself by playing poker.  “Uncle Krunk” became a lovable devil.

The real Mr. Panitch seemed to take it all in stride.  Eventually, he became aware of his notoriety as many players mistakenly thought those were his posts, and actual thoughts.  To the very end, Mr. Panitch played the cantankerous role to perfection, although a select few who got to know him better came to realize there was something far more interesting and commendable about this man beneath the surface

Mr. Panitch was indeed a caring uncle to several nieces and nephews, in the words of Chad Holloway, who recently wrote a nice tribute to his passing, which occurred on May 1st.  He was also a loyal son and brother to the other members of his close-knit family, perhaps confirmed best by the selfless act of taking care of his elderly mother for many years before she passed away just a few years ago.

With his death, poker has lost yet another of its most colorful characters, his memory now made all the more vibrant by finally realizing that behind the surly exterior at the tables we often witnessed was actually a deeply devoted and sensitive man who will be missed, but not forgotten.

 

Read a more comprehensive feature on Robert Panitch here at POKERNEWS.COM

Special thanks to Rex Clinkscales for the post on Facebook which announced Robert Panitch’s passing.

 

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