There was a big charity event Tuesday night at the Venetian … part of their Deep Stacks II series … Jennifer Harman’s Charity Poker Tournament benefitting the Nevada SPCA. This has become one of the bigger Springtime celeb draws in poker, and is always a memorable shindig because of the presence of cute animals. You shoulda seen the look on the dealer’s face when Bijou (pictured here) jumped up and scampered around the table. I think half the players nearby were all cued up with jokes of “reraise!” and “floor!” had the pup, um, pushed a potty stack across the betting line.
Anyhow, I don’t know the numbers yet …I think it was actually smaller than in previous years, with 140something entries 30 minutes before late registration closed. But it really was a lot of fun … and the NSPCA seemed thrilled about the money the event was still raising, not to mention the number of rescued pets being adopted.
Pokerati Red Carpet Video
I wasn’t even sure I was gonna go … had an appointment earlier in the afternoon that ran long as well as friends and relatives in town … but decided to check it out. Walked up to the Nevada-SPCA PR guy and got myself a press badge looking to snap a few photos. He said he had just one badge left but was out of lanyards. I told him not to worry … I was pretty experienced at this kinda thing and could take care of it. Then, less than five minutes later (for my first time ever, seriously) I somehow lost my credential. It had to be within a 30 foot radius of the tournament registration, but no luck, couldn’t find it. (And Venetian can be pretty hardcore about stopping photos from anyone who isn’t Flipchip.)
But right around that time, I ran into Sam Chauhan — life/”mindset” coach to Phil Hellmuth, Paul Wasicka, Antonio Esfandiari, and others. He asked me if I wanted to play, presumably unaware that I had donked off what appeared like healthy winnings the last time we ran into each at the Hard Rock. No problem, he said, I can get you in … we walked a few steps, pointed to some people with clipboards, and boom — within a couple minutes I had a wristband and a seat card. Hmm, not bad …
I was pretty excited actually. Team Pokerati-er Jon Katkin had taken second place at the Emily Jillette charity tourney for Opportunity Village this past weekend for a $5k+ score. And he did it with just a single bullet and 1,000 starting chips. This was my turn … I could feel it … was running good.
I took my seat and shuffled my teensy starting stack. The biggest celebrity at my table was Carrot Top, who isn’t much of a poker player, but hardly knows a red carpet around town that he doesn’t walk. He was in a lot of hands early. I thought about making a move with A-9 suited, but decided no … I knew I had only one chance to be all-in. Sure enough, he was calling every bet. But after two orbits I got QQ under the gun. With blinds still at 25/50, I limped, as expected Carrot Top raised, and then Barry Dakake (executive chef at N9NE Steakhouse) re-raised. It was an easy all-in for me … original raiser folded, and Dakake briefly thought about it and called.
He showed AK. Ace on the flop, no improvement, and adios Pokerati.
Interestingly, before the turn and river, Howard Lederer had shown up to take his empty seat at my table. As he surveyed the felt, I noticed his eyes do a double-take on my left breast, which was appropriately patched up pimping a poker newsy website that we all know well and has prided itself with its
90ish easily 60 percent accuracy over the years when nosing around in the Professor’s business.
Alas. the dealer gave my empty seat card to the floor before taking Howard’s and dealing him in. As I walked away, Howard pulled out a stack of 100s and began his usual early-level charity strategy of going all-in on every hand, rebuying like crazy, and even sometimes rebuying for opponents whom he sucks out on. Bummer, If there was one guy I was hoping to see and talk to at that tournament it was Howard the alleged honcho at Full Tilt Poker. But unless I wanted to rebuy with an assortment of 20s, 10s, 5s, and even 1s, some of which was slated to fund breakfast tomorrow without a trip to the ATM, I would miss my chance to engage in 3rd-level poker small-talk with one of the most powerful and currently important (if not controversial) figures in the game.
Oh well, all for a good cause, right?
Check later for real red-carpet celebrity coverage here.
Chau Giang, btw, was the winner … OK, maybe the animals were the real winners … but they don’t get seats in the 2010 WSOP main event.