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Daniel - Poker Journal

New York

29 Dec 2004

Our world today is somewhat of a mess. We idolize sports starts, actors, entertainers… heck, even poker players these days! We’ve made these people our heroes when the true heroes on this planet are the men and women that really make a difference. Teachers, doctors, police, soldiers, and finally the guys down at the Fire Hall.

I flew into New York late last night, getting in an hour late due to some bad weather in Vegas. A car was there to pick me up at the airport and take me to my hotel, the Kimberly in Manhattan. Once there, I met up with Mark and Tina (from pokerpages.com) for a late dinner. It ended up being a REALLY late dinner as we had a lot of catching up to do.

I’ve always admired the sacrifices that both Mark and Tina have made for the good of poker. They truly care about this game and have remained honest in a business with so many people looking to take advantage of you. In fact I used to worry about them a great deal. I worried that they were getting into this world a little naïve, assuming that everyone else wanted to do business honestly and have the best interest of poker at heart. Wake up call!

It was because of my respect for Mark and Tina that I agreed to shoot a pilot episode for a reality tv show revolving around… guess what? Poker of course. I’ve had too many offers to count to be a part of a pilot episode for a poker show, but I’m not a big fan of filming pilots. I decided a long time ago that I wasn’t going to waste my time with pilots- if they want me to do a show it better already be established first. Well in this case, I’m truly glad I changed my mind.


Mark, Tina, and I had such a great time at dinner that we didn’t get to bed till about 4:00am. Not good when you have an 8:00am wake up call! I finally woke up around 8:24am and slumped over to the shower. Downstairs by 9:00am, we had time for a quick breakfast than it was off to the set.

Once there it was the same old thing, “Hurry up and wait.” Apparently that expression is universal in the industry and after doing a few productions I can see why! We didn’t get ready to shoot till probably close to 2:00pm. In the meantime I had a chance to hang out with Mark and Tina’s kids. They just blew my mind. I was talking to a 15 year old Donald Trump and a 12 year old that is a shoe in to be a mega star in the mold of Brittany Spears and Christina Aguilera. Not only does she have the right look for the part, but man can she sing!

Without going into too much detail about the show, let’s just say that it was a home game that would feature me and seven NY firefighters. They finally arrived and the room was suddenly fully of energy. What characters these guys were, so much passion, so much camaraderie… it was awesome to see. They welcomed me with open arms and quickly proclaimed, “We’re gonna take you down Danny!”

I have to say that I’ve never really been a big fan of New York. The people often rub me the wrong way, but meeting these guys I think I finally understand what New York is truly all about. Passion. Now while these guys had a passion for putting out fires, it was clear that none of them had spent too much time working on their poker game!

To make a long story short, I cleaned them all out in a couple hours and it wasn’t exactly taxing if you know what I mean. The whole experience was so much fun for me and from what they said, “This is the most fun I’ve ever had” the feeling was mutual. In fact, I’ve officially been asked to walk with the NYFD in the St.Patrick’s day parade on March 17th. If I can squeeze it into my schedule it’s something I think I’d really enjoy doing.

While I was sitting at that table it dawned on me… these guys were in the trenches at ground zero. These are the guys who sweat blood and tears in one of the countries most tragic moments. The unsung heroes of 9/11... Suddenly I was awestricken. Being in their presence alone felt like a great honor. I was looking at seven REAL heroes. Seven men who put their life on the line on a regular basis for others. What describes a hero better than that? Of all of the people that I’ve been lucky enough to meet through poker’s recent rise, I’d have to say this was the highlight of all of those meetings. I’ve met actors, actresses, sports stars and the like, but this was the first time I’d ever met true Heroes… my hats off to you guys, see you on St. Paddy’s day!