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The Proudest Moment of My Life

02 May 2006

After hanging out with the Protégé finalists and getting to know them on Friday Night, I spent Saturday doing some TV work. First, doing some interviews for the Protégé show and then shooting a fun commercial for FCP.

With all the late nights I've had recently I knew that I needed to get to bed early since Sunday would be a very long day. I was in bed by 11:00pm, but unfortunately, woke up just two hours later at 1:00am and couldn't get back to sleep. What if this happens ? What if that happens? What are we going to do if this happens?

My mind was just racing a mile a minute. So rather than sleep I spent the night going over what could go wrong and how to deal with it if something happened. I dozed off for about 45 minutes early in the morning, but at 8:45am it was time for an early photo shoot.

Once that was over, it was time for a 10:30am meeting with the producers and the FCP crew to go over the procedure for the day. The plan was to get the cards in the air by noon, but we faced an obstacle that wasn't our fault or the production crews fault. The threat of a disaster was real, but we were able to cool the fire and got confirmation that we'd be able to start, it would just have to be delayed. Totally out of our control.

So, in the meantime, I invited all of the Protégé finalists along with their guests up to my room to watch some of the NBC Heads Up Poker Championship. While we watched, I did a little "extra commentary" prepping all of the players for the long day ahead.

We finally got started at about 3:30pm. Now this is important and needs to be said: Our main and only real concern was getting what we needed for the television broadcast that's set to air sometime in June. The webcast was simply an added bonus so that FCPer's didn't have to wait till June to see who won.

We had no plans of really "catering" to the webcast if you will. We wanted to make sure we put together an awesome poker show. Because of that, those that watched the webcast witnessed a gazillion breaks and delays during play.

Now, if I was pimpin' the webcast and that was our main focus, it would have run very smoothly. That wasn't the case, and perhaps we should have made that more clear beforehand.

I read through 1700+ posts in the FCP Forum and laughed so hard it hurt! Some of the posters came up with some funny lines, "Wow, we played two hands in a row, time for a 20 minute break!" LOL, I can take a joke and found the posts to be very funny, especially some of the "Where's Jerry?" posts.

Again, I have to explain, though, that we had no plans of putting on a dedicated webcast. The webcast was a totally free opportunity for people to watch all the hands live and also get a glimpse into how a poker show works.

So frankly, I wasn't offended by the posts, nor do I feel that I need to apologize for the free webcast. You guys think YOU were tired? Man, I was wearing five hats all day long on one hour sleep!

Anyway, early on, Jerry, the 69 year old qualifer from ESPN, lost a monster pot. The flop came J-8-6, and Jerry, in the blind with J-6, got cold decked by Brian Fidler who flopped a set of eights.

At that point, I came into the room to grab Jerry and speak with him outside the room. Jerry didn't return, and I grabbed his chips and took them out of play.

The next casualty was Justin, who was really unlucky in a pot against Clint when the flop came Q-2-4 rainbow and Justin was in the big blind with 2-4. Justin went all in on the flop, and Clint called him with K-Q. The turn was an Ace, and the river came a K!

Next to go was Corey, otherwise known as "Big Country." Corey raised it up with QQ and once again, it was Brian Fidler that did him in with pocket aces. Corey is a 19 year old self professed "math guy" that had a real shot at it. He is going to be a great player one day.

In seventh place, we lost the one player that qualifies as a "Forum Junkie," Frank Mutti a.k.a. LoisMustdie10. Frank never really held any hands all day and wasn't able to get off the shnide.

When we got down to six players, Jimmy Herrera, the Red Hot Poker Tour qualifier and fan favorite took a walk with me... he didn't return.

Down to five players now and it was Clint's turn to go. Clint went broke when his AQ missed the flop against Brian Fidler. The flop came 2-5-6 and after calling a raise from the small blind, Clint made a huge bet with his AQ. Brian put him all in at which point Clint was pot committed and had to call.

Then there were four... unfortunately, what the eventual Protege television show won't show is how bad a run of cards Fern had. After a while I even stopped looking at her hole card cam because I already knew what I'd see: 2-6, 8-3, 9-3, 7-2, 8-4... it was so sick, but she never wavered. She never gave up, and was determined to make a comeback. In the end, she couldn't win that key pot, though, which left just three players.

The next to go was Mathias "weakdraw" Andersson. Mathias could easily have been the Protégé if he would have won the following hand. Once again, Brian Fidler raised with pocket fives and Mathias went all in from the blind with A-Q. This was a monster pot and would make either player the chip leader in a big way.

The fives held up, and Mathias was left with a puny stack and was later eliminated.

In heads up play, Sol Bergen held a 520,000 to 400,000 chip lead going into the match. That advantage was neutralized on hand number one when Brian made a bold re-raise with A-7 before the flop, forcing Sol off of a K-2.

Up until heads up play, Sol was in control of the table. Brian "Cold Deck" Fidler was able to amass his chips by winning some monster pots, but Sol was able to build his chips by steadily building his stack with little to no confrontations.

It was Brian, though, that seized the moment, winning four out if the first five pots. The cards were running his way, but you could see that Sol was slightly rattled. He made two "moves" that were out of character for him and I know where those moves came from.

He felt like he had to do "something" to change the momentum. Unfortunately for Sol, his timing was off. On both occasions, Brian had him beat and re-raised the "move."

Once Brian developed a 2-1 chip lead he really started to kick up the aggression and play well. Slightly shell shocked, Sol had seemed to lose confidence. A title he must have felt was his, was now slipping away. The mistake Sol made in the end, was waiting too long to take his final stand. Sol seemed to be waiting for a hand to trap Brian with, but in the meantime, Brian was steadily increasing his chip lead.

The final hand was pretty exciting. Jd 9d for Brian versus Sol who had 9-6 but was all in. The flop came 6d 3h 2d giving Sol top pair but Brian a flush draw. The King of diamonds hit on the turn and Brian Fidler won himself a chance to play for millions on the tour.

I can honestly say that I would have been happy with any of the finalists winning. After speaking with Brian, I feel great about his energy and willingness to learn. Having said that, ALL of the finalists are part of the FCP family now. If you've never been to a "Weekend at Daniel's" or other FCP events, it would be difficult for you to fully understand what that means.

It sounds totally cliché, that I realize, but I think if you ask some of the people who have had a chance to be a part of an FCP event, they'd echo those feelings. At least I hope so!


After the event was over, I can't explain how I felt. It's hard to put into words, but I'll give it a shot. I was so proud. So proud of everybody. The finalists put on an awesome poker show. The producer was very easy to work with... the FCP crew worked their tails off. The set designer created one of the most beautiful sets I could ever imagine. The camera crew and grip crew were real troopers putting up with a 16 hour day!

Ali, my partner in crime, made it through the day despite being "rather hot" under the lights. Even my mother and brother stuck it out until the wee hours to see the finish.

Finally, I was really proud of myself. For the first time in my life. Seriously. I've won big tournaments before, but that's what I do. The finish of this event made me feel like a man for the first time in my life. A man that can do things on his own. A man capable of fighting through fatigue and helping to put together a great show. At the end of the night, a voice inside me just screamed out, "WE DID IT!!!!!"

Sure the webcast wasn't easy to watch for 12 hours, but I'm not worried about that as I said. Sure we had too many breaks which hurt the flow of play a little bit. Sure, it was excessively hot in the room, but we were able to address that and it was comfortable shortly after.

As an outsider, it's easy to look at the flaws from the webcast, but if you were looking at things from my eyes you would have seen perfection. Perfection in the final product. The poker show, and the concept behind it, is like nothing you've ever seen before on television.

I'm so confident in what we have "in the can," and that's why the little voice inside me was able to scream, "WE DID IT!!!"

The new members of the FCP family and I celebrated with a few beers and hung out for several hours. I can't tell you how much I appreciate all of you guys (and gal :-) Your patience with me and the whole production crew, man, thanks. I know how hard it must have been to play under those conditions, but none of you whined, and none of you complained even though you often had reason too. I'm a player first remember, so I understand.

I just want you all to know that I did everything I could to make things run smoothly, and in the end, I hope you all truly enjoyed the event.


While everyone else was able to go about their day on Monday, I didn't have that luxury. Early in the morning I was scheduled to do ANOTHER show, the Daniel Negreanu Canadian Collegiate Poker Championships.

Six young college kids playing for tuition and a chance at an extra $1000 if they could beat me in a fast paced heads up sit n' go. Argir Argirov, who we'll just call "Double A" started as a monster chip leader, but had to make a comeback to win in the end.

After we shot that show, I hung out with the college kids for a few hours before going back to my room in a new hotel room.

Oh, almost forgot... I also beat Chris from lifeofsports.com in a heads up freeze out. The prize was a signed, game worn Brad Richards Jersey from their series against Ottawa... smoked him :-)

At midnight, my FCP Heads Up Poker League Monday night game was scheduled, and I was to play sloshr of the C.C. Riders, a division rival who started the season 0-1.

I had him all in with the stone cold nuts when my 2-3 hit a flop of A-4-5. Sloshr had A2 and with a 6 on the turn, could only tie with a 3.... so it was a 3! Doh, I was steamed. I ended up losing that match and now everyone in the Stu Ungar division is 1-1 on the young season. For those of you who have absolutely no clue what I'm taking about: FCP HUPL


When I woke up today, it was time to pack my bags once again and head over to the Rogers Center to tape Off the Record with Michael Landsberg. I love doing that show. I seriously love it. I love sports and I love yapping so it's the perfect fit for me.

The topics on today's show covered Jon Daly losing 50-60 million dollars (no chance that's true), the Detroit Red Wings collapse and who to blame, Steve Yzerman and his future, the Leafs 39 year anniversary of winning a cup, etc. It was another fun show and I loved every minute of it.

From there, a limo picked us up to take me to my third bed in three nights, over at Mommy's place. Along with me for the ride, and along with me for every single step of the way this weekend, was "MTV."

This guy is a real trooper. He is the ultimate fly on the wall and captured some 12 hours of footage over the weekend for his documentary for MTV Diary. He's not done either. He's going to follow me to Vegas next week. He'll get me golfing, grab some footage at E3, and then playing in the WPT Mirage, hopefully, along with my new protégé Brian.

Right now I'm just missing home. Missing my wife and missing my dog Mushu (I got the order right :-). Mushu is all alone tonight until I get back to Vegas tomorrow afternoon. By buddy Kirk is walking him and feeding him, but it pains me to know he is alone tonight.

My wife left last night for New Orleans. Her, my assistant Patty, and a friend Andrea are all going out to New Orleans to do some really hard work. They are there to help. They are there to help provide food, clothing, and hope for a city that's been destroyed. They are also going to be working hard at cleaning up the disaster one day at a time.

Lori has also promised me that when she gets back she'd be willing to do a "guest blog" sharing her experiences in New Orleans. I can't tell you how proud I am of her and the girls. Lori has a really big heart and is always thinking of others before herself. It's what makes her such a special person and is probably the main reason I fell in love with her in the first place.

I will be home tomorrow playing in the Negreanu Open. If you haven't played in the Open yet, tonight is the night to start. Along with all of the usual prize money there will be a ton of added money in tomorrow's event. It's a $10 buy in and it's a lot of fun. Oh, and did I mention that there is a bounty on my head? Come join us...


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