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Daniel - Poker Journal

Some Good News from Toronto

24 May 2009

So for the past two days I went to the hospital to visit my mother. My brother had told her I was coming for days, but the last I remembered of her a month ago, she really wasn't responsive at all.
My brother walked in first and said, "Daniel is here." I could see her, here eyes lit up, totally wide open and smiling and squirming a little. We have to wear gloves and a gown, there are some specific germs that can rest on counter tops and things for up to nine weeks they said. I put on my gloves and gown and went to her.

She smiled really big, wide eyed and looked so happy! I kissed her, and she kissed me back. She can see me, and I knew it. She could hear me and I knew it. She's able to nod yes or no to questions, and I tested her with little games we used to play. I asked her, "Mommy, is Kravchenko an Italian name?" she nodded no, "Is it a French name?" again she nodded no, finally I said, "Is it Russian?" and she nodded yes!

Before she got sick I would read her names from tournaments I played all the time and would have her guess the origin, she really liked that it seemed.

Ornella, my brothers wife also came today. This is where things got a bit interesting. They told me to ask her if she liked Lori for me. Lori was my ex-wife and my mother never really thought it was a good fit for me. I asked her, and she didn't respond at all. Then I left the side of her and Ornella said, "It's OK Mommy, Daniel is gone now, you can tell me, do you want Daniel to go back to Lori?" Well her reaction let me know that yup! Mommy is back! Her eyes did that, "Are you crazy" look and she nodded no, no, no!
For the record, she really DOES like Lori and Lori likes her too... she just didn't like Lori for ME, but then again, my Mother would likely never be totally satisfied with any woman, "No one is good enough for my son" mentality I guess.

These two days were just so exciting and I would have left happy knowing she is starting to come around, when suddenly I took the conversation in a different direction: food. Her life's passion. I'd mentioned to her that Patty has been cooking for me and is doing great. That she wants to learn all of her recipes and she needs to make a cookbook so Patty can make all her specialties for me.

I then told her, "Patty tried to make Mama Liga (a corn meal bread type of food), but it didn't come out right the first time. I don't know what, what do you put in it Mommy? Margarine, soy milk, what?" I noticed when I talked about food she was more focused than ever. She wanted to respond to me so bad, she struggled, hoping to talk. Then I said, and this wasn't true but I just said it for a reaction, "I think she put sugar in it, that's not good right?"
She about jumped out of her skin to mumble... "Noaaoaa. Nahh sugggur unt unt" We were all kinda shocked! She was saying no, not sugar, butter butter, but in Romanian. This is a such a huge, huge, huge, huge deal that she did that. The doctors say that she WILL be able to speak if she keeps progressing. but needs to be reminded that she CAN speak as she'll forget.

The day before we read magazines with her, she'd look at the pictures and my brother would read it to her. I also decided to call some well wishers so she could hear them and that was uplifting for her. I'd call a friend and put the phone to her ear so she could listen. I got a hold of a lot of people who genuinely care for my mother.

Ivey called and said, "Mommy, I need some food. Last time you cooked for me everyday I won three bracelets. Come home to Las Vegas so I can win again. I need you." His wife Luccieta also let her know they've been praying for her.

Her "other son" E-DOG also called and wished her well. Scotty Nguyen, she's always respected and liked Scotty. She heard from so many people, forgive me if I forget all of them: Her sister Adriana in Romania, Jennifer Harman, Mike Matusow, and of course, her favorite, Emely from Costa Rica. My mother really took a liking to Emely when she visited Las Vegas and always perks up when I mention her name.

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Outside of visiting my mother my trip to Toronto this time is going to be very tame. Last night I went to my brother's buddies house. They were watching UFC and playing like a 30 man poker tournament in the basement. I recognized the fighter Machida and everyone else in the house liked Evans. I grabbed $20 off almost everyone there by backing Machida, he is the nuts! Totally kicked butt.

I ended up hanging with some of the high school kids there. They are all football players, one kid, 16 years old is 6' 4" and weighs 190 lbs! These kids were huge. They were drinking, so I tried to bet which one of the three kids would puke first. One of the mothers said pointed to her son, "He'll puke first." I agreed, he looked a little woozy already. In the end two of the three boys did in fact puke.

Now before you get your panties all up in a bunch, all the kids had parents there. I think drinking laws are so archaic and ridiculous that I have no qualms with the kids drinking underage. They ARE going to do it anyway, so instead of them finding danger in the park or some streets, I much prefer the idea of them drinking under supervision. I grew up in a European household and my parents would let me have beer and wine with dinner when I was underage. I trusted my parents and because of that they could trust me. When they told me I shouldn't try drugs, you know what I did? I listened. I have never done an illegal drug in my life, not even smoked pot (although I see nothing wrong with smoking marijuana).

There was also a 12 year old kid there named Robbie. Apparently he's autistic, but he seemed to be very outgoing and friendly. More so than other autistic kids I've spent time with. Anyway, he challenged me to RockBand. There was no Rockband at the house, so him, me, and his parents went to his house to play RockBand Metallica. He totally destroyed me! He plays like double expert and rocks out! It was a lot of fun and he amazed me with his skill, good job Robbie, you rock man!

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Tomorrow I will be at the hospital with my mother. It'll be the last time I see her until the WSOP is over, but I plan on still talking to her through the phone regularly, hopefully with some good news, "Hi Mommy, I won again. That's my fourth bracelet this year, I broke the record and I'm going to win player of the year again. I'll see you soon."

After that, I'll be going on the CBC show called "The Hour." It's a very cool show and will air that night so if you are in Canada, be sure to tune in. Right after doing the show it'll be straight back to Vegas. Going to maybe work with a couple of my friends on their mixed games, play some golf, get my horses some money for the series, and gear up for the $40,000 buy in event. I predict this will be the toughest ever hold'em event to win and it will require my absolute best game to have a chance. Anything less won't be good enough.



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