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Daniel - Poker Journal

Ian Leggatt and Friends Golf and Poker Tournament

20 Sep 2006

This blog might start out a little chaotic, but since it's been a few days it'll be easier for me to try and write it in chronological order:

Bocce: Have any of you ever played Bocce before? No, I'm not talking about Foosball, I'm talking about the Italian game that resembles curling and shuffleboard.

Well, one of my good friends in Toronto, Pat Pezzin, is actually awesome at the game. He represents Canada at the Bocce World Championships and is also heavily involved in promoting the game in Ontario. Organizing teams, tournaments, etc.

Anyway, we were planning on meeting up for a drink with Zvi and Van Nguyen (the kid that took that brutal beat against Josh Arieh late in the 2005 WSOP). We met somewhere near them, I don't even remember where, and Pat asked us if we wanted to checkout his club and play a game of Bocce before we played pool at the bar next door.

It sounded interesting enough, so we decided to check it out. Inside, there were three long skinny courts made of rubber flooring. Pat had a locker there and brought down his set of Bocce balls. Anyway, here is how the game works in a nutshell:

Player A throws a tiny ball down the court to start out the game. Then, player A takes one of his Bocce balls and tries to get it as close to the tiny ball as possible.

Then, player B can either try to get his ball closer, or knock his opponent's ball out of the way. If player B does not hit player A's ball out of the way, or land his ball closer, he must try again. Player B will continue to throw until he gets a ball closer than player A's.

Each player only gets four balls per inning. At the end of the inning, the closest ball is rewarded one point. If there are two "green" balls closer than any of the "black" balls, that's two points. If all four of the green balls are closer than all four of the black balls, that would be worth four points.

Zvi and I both sucked obviously, but played a match for $100 anyway. We played up to seven points and I won a close game 7-6. Then, I played Pat. Pat spotted me a 13-0 lead to 15 and I did awesome! I lost, but this was no shutout, I lost 15-14!

When Zvi tried Pat, he walked with that cocky aura he's well known for, thinking he can somehow "outplay" pat. Errrrrr, wrong, 15-0 next case. You suck Zvi.

If you've never tried Bocci, I highly recommend it. Watching Pat play just blew my mind. From like, 100 feet away he'll call out, "That one is long," and he'll be six inches passed the tiny ball. In other words, me or Zvi would be doing cartwheels if we could get it that close!

After Bocce we played pool for a bit, and then played some Foosball also. I brought no Canadian money with me, but left with a handful... thanks guys!

I did well in the pool, but suck at foosball. Luckily, my partner Van is like some Foosball whiz kid and he carried our team. (btw, is it Fusball, foosball, or Fusbol?)

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The next day I woke up pretty late and since it was raining I didn't figure that Ian and the guys would be golfing despite him mentioning it to me earlier. I chilled out on the computer before hitting the shower and heading down to Downtown Porsche where the charity poker tournament was being held.

I have to say, it's the first time I ever played poker in a car dealership, but it was an excellent venue.

When I walked in, the first guy I recognized was Lanny McDonald. I mean, how could you ever miss that face? Lanny walked up to me and let me know that him and his kids watch me on TV all the time and that his son Barrett was a really big fan. I signed a card for his son and then we got to talking poker... and hockey obviously.

Later I mingled some more and ran into my best friend from high school, Todd Shapiro. He wasn't actually my best friend, but apparently his partner Dean Blundell has needled him about that on his morning radio show several times. They host the EDGE 102.1 in Toronto morning show, and Todd had mentioned that we were "buddies" back then.

I kinda, sorta, knew who he was and remember him being a year older than I am which meant he'd step on my lunch at the local pool hall for gags (kidding, that didn't happen). I did remember him, and he seems to remember us playing RBI Baseball at Palace Club Billiards about 15 years ago.

Now, I know he was lying when he said he beat me... please, nobody beat me dude, I'm the shiznit at that game.

Anyway, I started hanging out with those guys for a bit along with Jeremy Taggert, the drummer from Our Lady Piece. Wow, that dude has the craziest laugh you have ever heard. If you ever wanted to build up your self esteem as a comic, you need to have this guy around. His laugh lasts for about three and a half minutes and when he cackles it looks like he's about to cough up a lung. His laugh alone, makes me laugh. It's too funny.

I also ran into a couple other hockey guys, Vincent Damphousse, a guy that I remember from when I started really watching hockey, and Brian Savage of the Montreal Canadiens/Phoenix Coyotes.

At about 7:00pm the tournament was starting and some of the organizers weren't sure if it was a good idea for me to play since they figured I'd just win for sure. Obviously they don't get how poker works. A charity event with 550 in starting chips and 10-15 minute blinds is a tournament anyone can win.

I told them that, and to make them feel safer, even promised them that I wouldn't win. There were over 100 players in the event, and during the rebuy period I played at a few tables. I ended up rebuying a couple times (big surprise) and building a decent stack.

Before I knew it, we were down to two tables. With about 11 players left I was one of the really short stacks. I folded in the small blind, and all of a sudden the tournament director came by and said that we were all at the final table.

Not only that, but little did I know that at the final table we would all start with 550 in chips! That was a pretty lucky break for me.

After a short break I took my seat and everyone stayed to watch. Lanny had front row seats and was watching intently. Rather quickly, I was all in with Ac Kc vs KsQs and As 10c.

The flop came Kh 7c 2s. A great flop for me, as only a Queen could get me... the turn? Qc! Wow, so now I had a flush draw, but needed to hit it or an Ace otherwise I'd be all but out. The river... Ace! Nice, I get lucky in a charity event, yikes :-(

After that, I pretty much cruised to the win, although since I promised not to win, I gave the first prize to the guy who came in second place. The prize was a Porsche, so the guy was pretty excited to find out that despite finishing second, he actually won the car.

I took a few pictures in MY new car, some pictures with the new winner, and some of the other staff and fans on hand. From there, a group of the guys were all hanging out at the little bar they set up having a drink.

Ian joined us and regaled us with some pretty crazy golf stories. Damphousse, Lanny, and Savage all had stories to tell also. It boggles my mind how all these hockey players shoot in the 70's. It must just be so natural for them.

I told them about a potential prop bet I had lined up. Here is the bet: Imagine you take two 25 handicaps of equal skill and partner them with a PGA pro of similar skill level.

Now, one team works like this: For team A, the Pro takes EVERY tee shot and that's the end of it. For team B, the Pro takes every approach shot. The second shot on all par 4's, the tee shot on par 3's, and the 3rd shot on par 5's. Once the pros take their shot, the rest of the hole is determined by the 25 handicappers.

Also of note, the course is about 6300 yards at TPC Summerlin. The question is, which team has the edge assuming all things are equal?

They shared their opinions, but I won't reveal that just yet.

After the place starting closing down, we all hopped in some cabs and continued the party at a local Irish pub. I ended up sitting with Damphousse, Savage, and Leggatt for most of the night. I shared with them some of my ideas to make hockey more interesting in the U.S. and I think they really liked my ideas.

The basic concept I have for making hockey more interesting to watch on TV is to get the fans more involved with knowing the players. I shared several easy ways to do that, and if they make these subtle changes I think it would go a long way to improve ratings in the U.S.

Vincent seemed pretty interested in what I had to say, especially because of his new job working with the NHL.

We talked about poker too. The guys seemed a little puzzled by my decision to give away the car, so I tried to explain to them that it wouldn't have felt right to keep it based on the circumstances. I didn't want to come to the event and have anybody leave with a bad taste in their mouth about me winning the main prize. It wasn't much of a decision, really, as I made it even before I started playing.

The bar closed and Ian and I grabbed a cab back to where our cars were. I was driving my Mom's car, and when I tried to start it... nothing. Oh man, I must have left the lights on.

Luckily, Ian hadn't left yet and so I hopped into his ride and he gave me a lift. He has a fun car, a 2003 Ferrari that he drives when he's in Toronto.

On the way home, we mostly talked about his golf career. He showed me some freak injury scars on his palms that kept him out of golf for about a year. He seems happy about the way he's playing now and has had a couple good finishes this year. At one point, before his injury, he was ranked #43 in the world.

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The next morning it was all about the golf. I was excited to play in another celebrity scramble event, since last time I wasn't much help to my team. Having said that, the last time I played golf I could not hit an iron... at all!

I got to Angus Glen a little early so that I could "iron" out the kinks. I got to where I was actually getting the ball in the air again, but my distance wasn't there. I just wasn't finishing or transferring my weight at all. I hadn't been able to hit the ball so I was solely focused on making contact. The swing is a mess, but I'll head back to TPC and have one of the pros their look at it.

Anyway, before we tee'd off Lanny and I got to talking. We'd be starting off at the same hole. Later, Doug Gilmour showed up and joined the conversation. When I asked Doug what his handicap was he said 22... 22?

How in the world could any hockey player be that bad? Then Lanny nudges him and reveals the truth. He's more like a 9. Was he hustling? We'll never know, lol.

I was teamed up with some guys from a company called Sun Valley. A good group of guys, but we didn't have any big time golfers in our group. The smallest guy in our group, though, hit the ball really long.

We had one guy who was pretty bad, an older guy who was our anchor, and another guy who hit a huge slice on every shot and was very inconsistent.

We started out pretty well, making birdie, birde, par, birde, on the first four holes. After 10 holes we were at -6. Then the wheels fell apart. We had a bogey on the back and ended at -5!

I sucked. The only club I hit well was my driver, but we rarely used it since we had a big hitter in our group. I didn't make one putt. I didn't hit one approach shot close. I didn't get a chip close. I sucked, really, really, bad. *sigh*

After golf it was time for dinner and the awards ceremony. I didn't win squat, but we had a real shot at it. The winning team was only -11, and if I would have helped at all we would have had a chance. *sigh*.

After awards were given out, we talked about the real reason all of us were there. For kids. One young man named Noah came up to the podium and spoke to the crowd. He was a 12 year old boy that's gone through extensive cancer treatment and isn't out of the woods yet.

He was so well spoken. No notes at all, he was just up there winging it. He made sure to look at the crowd and even had a few well timed jokes thrown in there. It was amazing. I've watched CEO's of companies who sucked at public speaking. This kid could teach them a lesson!

Also of note, this kid had some long, long, hair. When asked why he was growing out his hair, we found out that he was growing it out to make wigs for other cancer patients who go through chemo. Solid.

After the event was coming to a close, we headed over to another bar. Once again, I hopped in Ian's car and put my clubs in another car.

It was more of the same, except this time we had Jeremy Taggert and his laugh join us. Man, funny, funny dude. I laugh out loud just thinking about it.

Anyway, he was at the Blue Jays game tonight. His role.... bat boy for the Yankees! LOL, no kidding. I stayed till close and that marked the end of my trip for the most part.

Today has been a day of catching up and working on my schedule. By the way, my updated schedule is available in the FCP forum under "Daniel in the Media."

I've got a whole bunch of other stuff to share, but seriously, I need to get back to writing my book and a couple columns...

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