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What a Week

21 May 2005

In summing up the week let’s start back at Ohio State University:

May 15: At 6:45am I flew to Columbus and was in Ohio by mid afternoon. I made an appearance at Ohio State and then played at the final table with the others who actually qualified. I ended up winning so the second place winner was awarded the championship bracelet as I wasn’t eligible.


May 16: I fly out of Columbus at 6:00am and land in Las Vegas at 8:36am. I caught up some business calls, did a radio interview, and took a nap in preparation for my heads up match against Mimi Tran for $500,000.
At 7:00pm that night I played $4000-$8000 limit hold’em heads up against Mimi Tran. At about 5:30am I finally won the match and headed home to pack a bag for an 11:00am flight to Los Angeles.


May 17: Unfortunately, after deciding to get in a quick nap it went a little bit long and I missed my 11:00am flight. I rescheduled my flight for 2:00pm (you know what that means). I go through my obligatory random search once again and made it to LA at around 3:00pm.
The STACKED people picked me and Erick up at the airport and took us to our hotel. When we got to the hotel I realized that I left my computer on the plane! Oops. I called Southwest though and they had my bag in the office so Ken made the insanely long drive back to the airport to get the bag for me.
Erick and I did a few media related things: interviews, pictures, autographs and then had to get ready for a very important dinner meeting.
I can’t tell you anything at all about the dinner meeting, but I can tell you that both Erick and I were really pumped up about the whole thing. Our heads were spinning with cool ideas for the future of STACKED and it was really exciting.
After dinner we headed back to the hotel and met with “Aleezee” or just Ali who was the host of the NHUPC. Ali is actually a TV personality that also happens to be a legitimate poker player. He won an Emmy years ago for his work on a video game show and currently has lots of promising things going on which was nice to hear. Ali is like the perfect guy to do poker commentary if ever given the chance and/or he is available. He’d be right at the top of my list for sure.


May 18: Wake up call at 8:00am has me up at 8:30am. I jump into the shower, packed my bags, checked out, and am downstairs by 9:30am to meet the others as we head over to the E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) convention. Before going to the convention I was warned that it was “crazy” and “overwhelming” but I wasn’t worried. Yikes, man were they right!

This place was totally insane. Not the place for someone who suffers from A.D.D. that’s for sure! Loud, and I mean loud noises coming from every direction. Flashing lights, swarms of people… it had my head spinning. After a few hours there I looked over at Erick and he was just out of it. A total zombie!

We spent a lot of time at Microsoft’s booth hanging out there as we awaited all of our scheduled interviews and appointments. At one point, “A big wig” over at Microsoft came over to talk to us about STACKED and said to me, “Congratulations, I hear you are getting married.” I was a little shocked that he would know that and asked him how me knew? Then he tells me that he reads my blog all the time! How bizarre is that? (What up George if you are reading this!)

He seemed genuinely excited about STACKED as did virtually everyone we talked to. It didn’t seem like hot air either. The game was described by most everyone we met as the poker game they’d been waiting for. (if you want to see a trailer go to www.planetstacked.com.)

After running around for a while to meet some people from www.ign.com and www.gamespot.com it
was time to get out of there. I couldn’t take much more of it. It was a blast, but man, it’s sensory overload to say the least. Just when I thought our hectic day was over it got worse.

As you can imagine there was tons of traffic leaving E3, but luckily for us our hotel was only two miles away. Unless of course, you go the wrong way! What should have been a 10 minute drive turned into a n hour and a half.

The car drops us off at the Radisson and both Erick and I were looking forward to passing out… until, “I’m sorry sir, but I don’t have either of you registered at the hotel and we are fully booked. In fact, the entire city is booked due to the convention.”

Not good. We call the people over at “Lucky You” and were informed that there was a mix up. Our hotel was actually in Woodland Hills which was an hour away. Wait, that’s not all! I was also informed that my SSN wasn’t working and that they may not be able to use me. I informed them of my P1 Visa and my ITIN yet they couldn’t confirm for me whether or not Warner Bros. Would give me the ok to be in the movie. The best they could give me was “50-50.” Being the gambler that I am, I was willing to take those odds.

When we finally made it to our hotel I was totally drained and went straight to sleep.


May 19: This time my wake up call was for 6:00am and I snoozed until about 6:30am before I got out of bed. I’m sooo not an alarm clock guy, that’s what I used to hate about school. I’m down in the lobby by 7:30am with all of my bags once again as I checked out for the second day in a row.

We get to the set by about 9:00am and I get the good news: My papers came through and I was ok to be in the film. I had my own little dressing room as did Erick, Ming Ly, Ted Forrest, and Jason Lester. All poker players that would be involved in the scene we’d be shooting all day long. Now when I say all day long, I mean precisely ALL day long!

After going through Wardrobe and hair/makeup I headed towards the set… wow! It was such a weird moment. The set was the old Bellagio poker room down to a tee. It was absolutely identical.

In the scene we were shooting I was seated next to Robert Duvall who was playing one of the lead characters. Eric Bana of Troy and Incredible Hulk fame was also in the scene with us.

I spent most of the day listening to Robert tell me stories about what it was like doing movies “back in the day.” I was a little shocked when he told me he was 74 years old, that is pretty impressive.

Unfortunately I can’t tell you too much about the film, but I will say that it is going to do poker proud. It’s not a collection of scumbags cheating each other and it looks like it will be an excellent film. Director Curtis Hanson (8 Mile, L.A. Confidential) pays great attention to detail and it really shows up in the finished product.

The one scene we shot we were playing 7 Card Stud and I was dealt rolled up eights! So for over 8 hours, every hand I was dealt was a monster, while Ted had to suffer through folding a pair of deuces with a deuce out… EVERY…. SINGLE…. HAND. That is absolute torture for Ted who likes to play lots of pots. Over eight hours of pure folding… Yuk.

The plan for the evening was to head straight to the airport and make it back to Vegas, but the day went a little too long so we had to check into yet another hotel, the Beverly Hilton.

We checked in and then watched the tail end of the Seattle/San Antonio series before meeting up with our agent Brian Balsbaugh for dinner. Brian rented a car so we headed towards Sunset Blvd, just basically looking for a restaurant.

We finally settled on Mirabella’s, an Italian place that both Erick and I had been to once before. Our waiter for the evening just so happened to be the same waiter we had last time. We called him “funny guy” because… well, because he was funny!

After an exhausting three days we decided to kick back, let loose and order a bottle of wine. My favorite white is a Pinot Grigio called Santa Margherita. If you haven’t tried it do yourself a favor.

It was good eats, good wine, and good conversation as usual. While Brian represents both Erick and myself, he is more like a friend than he is a “business associate.” It’s not all business when we get together but inevitably that is often the focus of our conversations since we are all so excited about the future.

After dinner we were kicking back at the hotel and I had a “moment.” I could picture this same setting 20 years down the road, reminiscing about what poker was like back in 2005. Where we were then, and where we are now. I genuinely felt like we would always be friends and would likely grow old together.


May 20: I had a 5:00am radio interview to do, yes that’s right 5:00am! It’s 8:00am on the east coast and it was for a morning show. I was a little out of it during the interview, but I think it was actually a really fun interview since I was somewhat delirious!

My flight was scheduled for 10:00am, but I was pretty sure I was going to miss this one… and I did. When I finally woke up and called Southwest they were sold out. Not good. I finally found an 8:45pm flight back to Vegas and was back on my couch by 10:00pm. Ahhhh, my favorite place in the world.

Of course there isn’t much time for me to relax as tomorrow is the cocktail party over at the Wynn and I should probably work on my speech and my shtick to follow. So on that note I will leave you all and get back to work.


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