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.
Yesterday, at the annual iGaming North America Conference currently taking place in Las Vegas, Rich Muny from the Poker Players Alliance led a most enlightening panel discussion which included two of the game’s experts — David Sklansky and Mason Malmuth. Aside from being longtime players, both are perhaps best known as prolific authors via their association with the poker and strategy website TwoPlusTwo.com.
As the panel discussion neared a conclusion, I asked Sklansky what factors might contribute towards igniting another poker boom similar to what we experienced during 2003-2007. I also inquired as to whether a repeat of those golden years was even a remote possibility given the perfect storm of circumstances which must align in order to create a new popular phenomenon.
Sklansky, true to his reputation for thinking way beyond the usual parameters of expectation, noted that if scientific research could somehow prove a direct link between playing poker and preventing Alzheimer’s (and other diseases of dementia and mental deterioration), such news might trigger another tidal wave of enthusiasm for the game. Naturally, if a link was indeed established, such news would not just bring new people into poker rooms and cardrooms, and particularly more older players, it might even change the way we manage senior care. Such news would certainly have an impact on the study of geriatrics.
Writer’s Note: Last week, Martin Jacobson won the 2014 World Series of Poker Main Event. Yet, as one former winner reveals, like a fine wine, sometimes a true champion in every sense of the word materializes not in a flash of victory, but instead following more than a decade of deeper reflection.
Of the 15 world poker champions crowned in this, the current century, has any winner been more erased from the game’s recent memory than Robert Varkonyi?
The 2002 World Series of Poker Main Event champ never quite received the respect nor the fame he was entitled to — acclaim whether deserved or not just about everyone else that won since 2000 was able to enjoy. While other champions profited from cozy seven-figure endorsement deals and lucrative public appearances, Varkonyi went back to being Mr. Anonymous — Robert Varkonyi, the forgotten champion, as in the fill-in-the-blank subject of “whatever happened to…?” Not that the 53-year-old Everyman seems the least bit fazed by this concerted oversight. Yet, somehow that makes our collective abandonment even more egregious.
Talk to Varkonyi and he’ll readily admit that he prefers a day-to-day existence of relative obscurity, even within the poker world when he so chooses to grace it, which has become increasingly rare nowadays. An argument can even be made that staying out of the spotlight became a sort of hidden blessing for the low-key financial investor who still lives a quiet life along with his part-time poker playing wife Olga, and two daughters Victoria and Valerie, in Brooklyn, New York.
Randy Meisner imposter stories have been swirling around Las Vegas for quite some time now.
Off and on during the past 15 years, a clever con man who’s real name is Lewis Peter “Buddy” Morgan has been impersonating the former bass player who once played in the rock band, the Eagles. The real Randy Meisner was even one of the co-founders of the group, way back in 1971.
The imposter certainly did his homework. First, he picked a band sure to be well-known by most of the people he targets. Just about everyone has at least heard of the Eagles. Second, he impersonates the least-known member of the band, who left the group in the late 1970s. Few people would be so bold (or stupid) as to steal the identities of his more widely-known bandmates — such as Don Henley, Joe Walsh, or Glenn Frey. By contrast, Meisner is relatively easy to impersonate. Third, other than old photos taken way back when the Eagles were together and churning out hit records, virtually no one knows what the real Randy Meisner looks like (especially now). Finally, the imposter knows just enough about the group and its members to carry on a convincing conversation about what it was like to once be a “rock star.”
Meisner is certainly no Mick Jagger. He’s not even a Bill Wyman. But the real Randy Meisner did co-write a catalogue of classic hits, some of which are still familiar to this day. He also sang lead vocals on several songs which made the pop charts. Far more interesting however, are the behind-the-scenes stories that only someone of Meisner’s stature and level of access would know and be able to recall with credibility. Indeed, if Meisner were to talk about what the Hotel California recording sessions were like, that would interesting to many people, including myself. I mean, how often do you get to hear a firsthand account about how one of the most successful albums in rock history was created?