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Daniel - Poker Journal

Miami is No Joke

12 Jan 2006



So last night I made it to Boca Raton for an appearance for a commercial real estate convention. I got there at about 5:00pm and dinner wasn’t scheduled till 7:30pm so I borrowed someone’s room and got a little nap in.

When I woke up it was time for dinner and I sat with about 12 people. It quickly turned into 20 questions, but it didn’t bother me at all. The questions were all good and I was in a pretty social mood. I didn’t know any of the people there, but I’m pretty comfortable in situations where most people may feel awkward.

Actually, there was one guy there who claimed to of attended school with David Oppenheim, but that was the closest I came to “knowing anybody.”

They knew who I was and seemed genuinely intrigued with my profession and wanted to hear all about it. Later in the evening they also shared some valuable real estate secrets which I appreciated.

After dinner there was a tournament organized for about 100 people. I mostly floated around the room, schmoozing, cracking jokes, helping people, and just basically making myself available.

When they got to the final table they put me at the final table with an average stack which ended up being 15,000 worth of chips. It seems like I’m on quite the run in these appearances. When I spoke at Ohio State I won that final table, and once again at this appearance I went on to bust the whole table. Man, if only I can hit hands like that in the big tournaments!

I got back to my hotel room at about 2:00am and got about 6 hours sleep before heading to the Miami airport to make an 11:10am flight to Los Angeles.

There was a long line at the security gate, so I actually felt “lucky” when they chose me for special screening since that line was much shorter. There was probably only three people ahead of me in the line so I figured it would be quick and painless.

Then they wheeled in an older lady along with two people she was traveling with and brought her to the front of the line. No big deal, but then ANOTHER older gentleman in a wheelchair was wheeled in ahead of me with his posse.

Then another, then another! It was so bizarre. In a very Larry David moment I blurted out, “Next time I’m going to bring my wheelchair.” I actually said that OUT LOUD! I must have been watching too much Curb Your Enthusiasm because only Larry David could say something like that.

Of course Larry David would have went on and on with something like, “That’s quite the racket they got going on there. Wheel one guy in and the whole posse gets to bud the line. Did anyone check to verify if these people really needed the wheelchair? She doesn’t look so sick. She doesn’t look all that old either. I‘ll bet they can walk just fine.”

At that point Larry would do that “face” when he is trying to read somebody. It would have been a funny scene, but I am no Larry David!

So I get through the security check and they go through my stuff. The guy found some money in my bag and said that he’d have to call his supervisor. “No sweat,” I said, figuring it would be no big deal.

The I realized that I was in Miami, drug trafficking capital of the U.S. Two customs agents came to question me with, “Where’d you get the money, where are you going, blah, blah, blah,” the whole spiel.

I was cordial to them and answered all of their questions 100% honestly. They went back and forth to the phones, verifying this, verifying that… the whole process took about an hour.

Finally they let me go and I headed to my gate. I read a few pages of my Hockey News magazine and then heard my name being called on the loudspeaker. I figured it had to be about the money, so I immediately went to the desk.

Once there, I was greeted by a special agent who had a few more questions for me. Where’d you get the money, did you declare it, where are you going, etc. This guy seemed like a relaxed guy and believed my story. After a short interrogation he let me board the plane. Finally, all that was over… or was it.

I was seated in the very first seat of the plane continuing where I left off with my magazine. Then another dude comes in hard and fast and says, “FBI, can you come with me please.” Wow, that sounded serious.

I grabbed my bag and walked with the agent to the ramp, “Stand right there,” he says to me. I do EXACTLY what he says, and he goes, “Right there, don’t move!!!”

I was like, what the??? But I didn’t say anything. I just wanted to follow orders. Then I saw a fleet, literally a fleet of police, special forces, and other FBI agents. No kidding, I was kinda freaking at that point because it was pretty clear that they must have thought I was a drug carrier or something like that.

Again I’m interrogated. I explain to them that I’m a professional poker player. I came back from Bahamas and declared my money and now I’m off to another tournament. The head guy seemed really skeptical.

He was trying to verify my identity, but rather than point him back to the plain where 1/4 of the people recognized me I explained to him that I play poker on TV- ESPN, Travel Channel, FSN, and soon to be on GSN. Dude, I was pulling out all of the stops.

He then asks me where I won the money and if I had a receipt for the money. Oh my, I tried explaining that this was my money and it’s what I do for a living. I then told him that I won over $4 million in 2004 in tournament poker and it could be verified very quickly online.

He wasn’t into that. Luckily another agent recognized me, but wasn’t 100% who I was. They wanted to verify where the money came from and I told him it came from Bellagio. We tried calling Bellagio but they couldn’t help. I was stuck and the plane was about to leave.

They were going to pull my bag and have the dogs come in to sniff my bag. I was cool with that, and was being 100% totally co-operative. I saw no reason to mess with these guys at all. I tried being as easy going as possible, but man, this was a tough crowd. The dude never cracked a smile the whole time.

Finally after some more deliberation they let me on the plane. Phew! Am I glad that’s over. When I got back on the plane I apologized to everyone for holding them up. They all understood, and the stewardess quickly brought me a glass of champagne and a glass of water. I think I inhaled both glasses!

So anyway, I’m actually writing this from the plane right now about an hour out of LA. I finally got to finish reading The Hockey News from cover to cover and then popped in a movie that Lori got for me: Malibu’s Most Wanted.

I am a Jamie Kennedy fan and the movie was about what I expected. A couple goofy laughs and decent overall. Silly, but decent. I find the mockery to be hilarious because I actually see people like “B-RAD” in real life. White dudes totally convinced that they have to walk with a limp, sway from side to side so the bling gets maximum exposure, and overall just act like complete idiots. I actually do a pretty good “B-RAD” forsheeezie.

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When I get to LA I think I’m just going to rent a room near the airport. I get in at 2:00pm and my flight to Australia doesn’t leave until 11:15pm. What I really want to do, though, is find a store where I can buy seasons 2, 3, and 4 of 24! Dude, I’m totally addicted forreeezie.

Peace out y’all, 702, yia, yia, yia, das what I’m talkin’ bout!

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