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Posted by on Apr 22, 2014 in Blog, General Poker, Las Vegas, Personal, World Series of Poker | 2 comments

Digging through the Dust: How the 2004 World Series of Poker Almost Didn’t Happen

 

nolan-dalla-at-binions

The winter of WSOP discontent, in 2004 just before the re-opening.

 

Writer’s Note:  Ten years ago this week, the World Series of Poker was held for the last time in its entirety at Binion’s Horseshoe.  What few people know is — the series almost didn’t happen that year.  A few months after Chris Moneymaker’s victory ignited the poker boom, the casino was boarded up, padlocked by federal marshals, and eventually sold off to Harrah’s Entertainment.  The shuttered building sat dark and vacant during the entire winter of 2004.  Yet somehow, by April 23rd the casino was re-opened for business again was ready to host the 35th annual WSOP.  This is the story of how that remarkable poker series came to be, against all odds.

 

 

Binion’s Horseshoe was a total fuckhouse.

Sure, it was a great place to work when I was there.  And I wouldn’t trade those memories for the world.  But not everyone saw it that way.

By the time the doors were nailed shut and boarded over with plywood in January of 2004, more than 800 former employees were flushed out into the streets looking for work.  That might not seem like a big deal.  People lose jobs all the time.  But the vast majority of former Horseshoe workers had been around for years, like barnacles attached to a sunken ship.  They weren’t just part of the local scene — they were the scene.  They’d given their lives to the Binion Family and that grand old building so embarrassingly out-of-touch with the times.  Now here they were — mostly older people with retirement plans now stripped away — having to hustle to find a job.

Being somewhere over the rainbow in years made things difficult enough.  But then there was the baggage each carried on their backs.  One by one we gradually came to realize how deep-rooted our outlaw reputations were within the casino industry.  We weren’t black sheep.  We were child molesters.  No one wanted anything to do with us.

Being a former Horseshoe employee was like wearing The Scarlet Letter.  Most former employees who I kept in touch with had serious difficulty finding work.  After so much rejection, the explanation became painfully obvious.  Why else were so many good people with multiple years of casino experience not getting hired anywhere else — especially on The Las Vegas Strip which at the time was going through a boom period?

As phone calls went unreturned and rejection letters piled up, rather than tout one’s experience as a laid-off Horseshoe employee, some of my former associates began doing what was unthinkable.  They left blank spaces on their resumes.  If some nosy interviewer in personnel somewhere got curious and asked where they’d been working the past three years, the applicant might as well respond with “serving time.”  It was pretty much the same thing.  Being associated with the Horseshoe was like getting out of a prison and looking for work while out on parole.

But I was far luckier than most.

In fact, I was probably the luckiest former Horseshoe employee of all.

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Posted by on Mar 14, 2014 in Blog, Featured | 7 comments

The Story of Getting Conned by a Fake Rock Star

 

rock_and_roll

 

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?

That’s the hook.

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Posted by on Feb 12, 2014 in Blog, General Poker, World Series of Poker | 3 comments

Poker: Past, Present, and Future

 

poker-news

Photo of some guy full of himself who thinks he knows everyone and everything about poker (PokerNews)

 

Poker may well be on the verge of another golden age.

It’s possible.

I’ll tell you more why I think this is so in an upcoming announcement, which I think will excite a lot of people.

In the meantime, I’ve enjoyed several notable features in the media about my personal involvement in the game, as well as what’s ahead for poker.

Permit me to give readers a little background on each of the following news stories which all appeared in the last week:

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Posted by on Nov 7, 2013 in Blog, General Poker, Personal, Rants and Raves, Video 1, World Series of Poker | 4 comments

A Day in the WSOP Life (Caught On Video)

 

 

For most of my 20 or so years in poker, I’ve been the one asking the questions and carving out the narrative.  In short, I often held the spotlight rather than standing in it.

However, there’s been an increasing media reversal lately, as I’m frequently asked to be the subject of features and interviews.  The tables seemed to have turned, sometimes more than I would like.

While not entirely comfortable with this prospect, I hope the attention is, at least in part, due to some of the revelations from this blog.  Perhaps not.  Maybe it’s just being involved in poker for a long time and seeing a lot of different things and meeting all kinds of interesting people.  Most everyone likes good stories and inside information.

Last summer, Remko Rinkema (a poker journalist from Holland, see:  RENKOMEDIA) followed me around for a full day at the World Series of Poker with a film crew.  This was back during the first week in June during a record heat wave.  Temperatures climbed towards the 120-degree mark.

Remko and his crew came to my home, filmed me out in the backyard during the morning (drinking wine, of course), went with me running in the heat, and then drove with me into work at the Rio where some behind the scenes poker action was filmed.

Remko did a nice job on this.  However, I was a bit flustered towards the end of the feature and that showed in the segment.

We spent a lot of time talking about politics, history, and philosophy.  When those subjects come up, I can ramble on forever.  That’s pretty obvious in this feature as I’m sure they had to cut around a lot of me ranting and raving.

Anyway, here’s part of my life in a day.

 

See more videos of poker personalities at:  IGAMING.ORG

 

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Posted by on Nov 6, 2013 in Blog, General Poker, Video 1, World Series of Poker | 1 comment

Ryan Riess Wins 2013 World Poker Championship (Post-Tournament Victory Interview on Video)

 

2013 WSOP Main Event Champion Ryan Reiss

Ryan Riess (East Landing, MI), the 2013 World Poker Champion (Photo by Joe Giron)

 

Ryan Riess, from East Lansing, MI is the 2013 world poker champion.

I witnessed all the drama unfold late last night at the Rio in Las Vegas.  Moments after his victory, Riess was interviewed by members of the media while sitting next to more than $8 million in cash, his reward for the victory.  The 23-year-old Michigan State graduate was also presented with a custom-designed gold-platinum-diamond bracelet, valued at more than $500,000.

Riess overcame a chip disadvantage on the final day of the tournament, topping Jay Farber heads-up for the win.  Once Riess took the chip lead, he was in no serious danger of busting from that point forward.  The tournament capped yet another WSOP, which I’ve now been affiliated with for many years.

Here’s a ten-minute interview (raw unedited footage) with the new champion:

 

 

 

LINK HERE

 

Note:  Please visit WSOP.COM for more details.  Also, the OFFICIAL REPORT OF THE 2013 WORLD SERIES OF POKER MAIN EVENT CHAMPIONSHIP is now posted at the site.

 

Bracelet and Cash

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