Poker’s Old School Still Rules

“Dear Amy, thanks for the kind words and I will see you at the Rio, Tom.”

Well actually Tom McEvoy probably won’t see me at the Rio – at least not this month. Like last year, I’m feeling the double-edged sword of not covering the WSOP. I’m glad I’m not the one putting in 14 hour days in the triple-digit heat of the desert. But I also find myself longing for those chance late-night encounters with Otis and Pauly at the hooker bar. I miss FlipChip’s wry humor in the wee hours of the tournament day. And of course, I miss seeing my friends make it deep into tournaments.

So like most of you, I play catch up each day on the web, surfing through what I’m missing by not being there. I lol’d when a poster on 2+2 called the WSOP Champions Invitational “a field full of has beens playing for a car.” Any time somebody calls someone else a “has been,” I automatically think it’s coming from a “never was or will be.” Online coverage of the event was a bit thin, but I knew I could count on FlipChip for a good pic of McEvoy in his new “old school” ride. He also is responsible for the 2005 pic above of Tom and me. In fact, if you’ve been following the WSOP for any length of time, you already know you can count on LasVegasVegas for the best photos of the WSOP. I also really like PokerRoad’s new Photo Blog this year. With BJ behind the lens and a large photo format, you really get a sense of the scene.

Speaking of old school, I got a call from Howard Schwartz yesterday. Anybody that knows anything about poker books knows Howard. The Gamblers Book Shop is the Mecca of all gambling bookstores and Howard is its humorous, knowledgeable deity. The first time I visited the store was in 2003 – just weeks before Moneymaker’s claim to fame. Lou Krieger and I were in Vegas for the WPT Championship and the WSOP. Lou said, “If we’ve got a few hours, we should visit Howard – but only if we have that much time.” We indeed spent hours there, pawing through both the new books and the stash of old classics Howard has hidden in the back. As we walked past the shelves of books, Howard would tell stories about each one – how the book came to be, what the story was based on, his interactions with the author.

Howard recently wrote a review of Check-Raising the Devil, saying, “The book reads like the Rocky Graziano boxing movie title Someone Up There Likes Me. It’s a gritty story…” I like the word gritty. Hopefully Mike can do a podcast and book signing from the new store. I can’t believe that after all these years the store is moving, but for anyone in Vegas for the WSOP – you still have a few days to visit the old store. I highly recommend it. Like most things I like, it’s definitely old school.

When I first started following poker, Matusow, Hellmuth, and Negreanu were sort of the new guard. But time marches on, eh? Now they are like lions, heading up their prides, respectful of the old males and weary of the new cubs that could eventually challenge their positions. These lions, still in their poker prime, have agreed to let the Poker Shrink take a look inside their psyches during the WSOP. In a great series called “Poker Mind in Depth,” the Shrink gets Matusow, Hellmuth, and Negreanu to drill down on some pretty revealing and insightful stuff.

I’m not sure I’d call Guy Laliberte old school. I put him in the same category as Andy Beal – they might have been old school if they hadn’t found a more fortuitous path. At any rate, Guy is spending about $30 million to be the seventh space tourist and will be blasting off sometime this fall. He says he’s doing it to raise awareness for his One Drop Foundation, which strives to battle poverty by providing sustainable access to safe drinking water. The picture of Guy is taken at the 2007 WPT Championship, where he won $696,220 for his fourth place finish – which might just cover his food costs on the Russian space station.

To go with my old school poker theme this morning, I loaded a couple of old school songs into the iPod. I’ll leave you with a few relevant lyrics.

For Tom McEvoy:
Baby you can drive my car. Yes I’m gonna be a star. – Beatles

For Guy Laliberte:
And I think it’s gonna a be a long, long time
‘Til touchdown brings me ’round again to find
I’m not that man they think I am at home.
Oh, no, no no.
I’m a rocket man.
– Elton John


  1. Eugene
    Posted June 10, 2009 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    I wonder if taking out an ad during super bowl would be a more affective way of raising awareness for your foundation.

  2. Big Sissy
    Posted June 11, 2009 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    You have the naughtiest look on your face in that pic with Tom McEvoy.

    Driving down for a family WSOP vacation in about an hour.

  3. Posted June 16, 2009 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    Agree with you 100% re the WSOP. When you’re there and its been weeks since you’ve seen daylight, you wish you were anywhere else. And when you aren’t there and hearing all about it, there is no place else you’d want to be.

  4. Posted August 1, 2009 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    Were you responsible for editing ‘Check Raising…’? If so, um, thre are some MAJOR editing errors in the book. If not, please point me in the direction the the editor.