Random Notes from WPT Invitational Cocktail Party

by , Mar 1, 2009 | 7:48 pm

With a cold coming on, I juiced up on cold medicine and headed down to Commerce Casino last night for the pre-tournament WPT Invitational cocktail party. In more of a stuffy-headed fog now, I give you a few observations from the festivities:

William Hung was the first “celebrity” I noticed, as he arrived as soon as the red carpet was ready for action. And the poor guy was the only one from the red carpet featured by Perez Hilton today, and not featured in a particularly good way.

Food was excellent as usual, with a random assortment of Asian and Greek set-ups, along with the yum-yum appetizers floating around the room on waiters’ trays.

No DJ in the outdoor area like last year’s event, but it actually made for a more conversation-friendly atmosphere on the patio.

Wicked Chops scored seats in the tournament. I spent way too much time trying to figure out how that happened.

Reports of the demise of the Phil Laak/Jennifer Tilly relationship were evidently untrue, as the two looked typically couple-y as usual – Jennifer in a beautiful outfit, Phil in saggy jeans and a hoodie.

Some celebrities on the “confirmed” list were no-shows, such as Camryn Manheim, Montel Williams, and Nelly. (Yes, I was more than disappointed about one of those absences!)

CORRECTION: Manheim was there, and Jen was still disappointed. -DM

Shannon Elizabeth and Derek Hough are still a couple and just as adorable as ever, with Shannon checking on Derek and his amateur poker experiences throughout the evening.

Contrary to all reports from the tournament, Antonio Esfandiari was not the first person eliminated from the tournament, as Mike “SirWatts” Watson (former WPT champion) was out of the tournament and standing with us at the bar when that announcement was made. Ouch.

New to my social radar were Mike Watson and Shane Schleger, both of whom were introduced to me by Gavin Griffin and Kristin Roberts and very nice to chat with.

Also met Jamie Gold for the first time, who was extremely friendly and psyched about his Aced Poker affiliation, though my question about his possible ownership in the company was met with the standard “details of the contract cannot be disclosed” line. Good brief chat anyway. (His calling card gives him the title “Poker Philanthropist.”)

Mekhi Phifer
took the reigns during the rebuy period, grabbing the mic and encouraging players to rebuy (or even just donate) to his charity, The Vine Group, to help educational efforts in Africa. He was a great spokesperson for the organization and raised $78,270 for it, while managing to maintain his usual humble but outrageously sexy demeanor.

8 Comments to “Random Notes from WPT Invitational Cocktail Party”

  1. Kevin Mathers

    To be honest Jen, that picture of William Hung isn’t flattering. I thought the rumor about Tilly was that she was retiring from poker?

  2. California Jen

    I know William isn’t exactly hot, but leave it to Perez to point out the unfortunate.

    Jennifer has been taking time away from poker, I believe, but I had read some gossip that she and Phil broke up… Didn’t look true last night!

  3. BJ Nemeth

    Camryn Manheim did play last night, and I have the photos to prove it. She may have been a late arrival though.

  4. California Jen

    Whoopsie! Mucho apologies to Camryn. 🙂

    Evidently, I was a little too bummed about the Nelly no-show to get the rest of my facts straight. LOL.

  5. BJ Nemeth

    “Getting the facts straight” took on a less-important role last night. Even our live updates team provided very non-standard coverage, because it’s such an unusual event.

    Chip counts are constantly changing, between the rookie players and the accelerated blind structure, so doing normal Day 1 chip counts are pretty pointless. And it’s tough for us poker reporters to spot all the “celebrities,” most of whom have to be introduced by name, film/TV show, and then three other things before we have any clue who they are … “Oh, you were in a Lifetime Movie? Um … whatever …”

    By Day 2, it’s easier to get a handle on things, so hopefully there were more facts today. Even if there were a lot of blank photos until the very end. (I didn’t want to waste effort on chip count photos for people who only played in this one event, and may or may not ever play again.)

  6. DanM

    One of my Facebook friends sources on the ground in Lansing, Michigan, tell me Shannon was at a coffee shop there the week before last — hanging with some girlfriends — and was just gushing all smitten about Derek.

    Any significance to her being in Michigan shortly before introducing her still-new (chronologically speaking, at least) boy to the LA celebrity poker scene?

  7. steve hall

    Last year Shannon played the game of her life at the Heads Up. This is the first I have seen of her since the WSOP and it was a freeroll.

    Maybe she was out of town or maybe having a non poker playing other half has taken her desire away.

    As for Jennifer/Phil, very much together.

  8. justin

    Went to a great celebrity poker event last night. Check out some photos