Tag Archives: Poker

The Moneymaker Decade

3 Jul

The World Series of Poker is going on in Las Vegas, and it is something that I have been keeping up with for a long time. Although I am sure that I watched it earlier, my earliest recollection is watching Scotty Nguyen winning the main event in 1998. However, it was ten years ago that an unknown player shocked the poker world.

Chris Moneymaker came from nowhere to win the 2003 main event.Chris Moneymaker

It was interesting to watch, and it was surreal that he was from Nashville and worked for a restaurant that I have been to many times. (An aside: Moneymaker was not the first Tennessean to win the main event. Puggy Pearson, one of the all-time greats, won it in 1973.) After Moneymaker’s victory, a lot of people became interested in the game. It seemed that everyone was playing No Limit Texas Hold’em.

It wasn’t long before a bunch of guys at work began a regular Sunday night game. Some played every week, and others drifted in and out. I don’t know how long we did this, but a lot of changes took place during that time. Some got married. Some had kids. Some got divorces. We got lucky and took bad beats. We talked about work and about less serious stuff. One night, my girlfriend called to tell me that she was stuck in an elevator.

As I think back on all of that, it is hard to believe that it has been ten years. It seems like yesterday that I was watching the final table on television. It doesn’t seem that long ago that we were meeting on Sunday nights. As I look back, it brings to mind all of the changes that have taken place in the Moneymaker Decade. Obviously, his life has changed during that time, but everyone else’s has changed, too.

In 2003, I was in my second year of teaching. I was also the youngest member of the History faculty. Now, I am the oldest member of the History faculty.

In 2003, I was dating a kindergarten teacher and was not being very faithful. She was followed by a string of girlfriends. Now, I am getting married in a few days.

In 2003, I had never played a hand of poker. The first night I went to the Sunday game was the first time I had ever played. There is no telling how many hands I have played since. Now, I haven’t played poker in a year, and that game wasn’t very serious.

I 2003, I had yet to teach the field trip class to New Mexico. Now, I have been on the trip countless times and am supposed to take it over. Two of the teachers have retired and one is not far from it.

In 2003, I had considerable more hair. Now, it has gone somewhere.

Like any other ten-year period, the Moneymaker Decade has brought a lot of experiences and changes. Some good. Some bad. Some remembered. Some forgotten. Through it all, I remember watching a guy from my town win the biggest poker tournament in the world. I just can’t believe ten years has passed that quickly.

Six Degrees of Joe Walsh

7 May

I have been flipping through the television dial (yes, television used to have dials that you actually got out of the chair and turned) and hit upon Guitar Center Sessions on the Audience channel. Tonight’s episode features Joe Walsh, one of the all time greats. This guy isn’t just a great guitar player. He has lived one crazy life.Joe Walsh

Walsh has had a varied career as a solo artist and member of several bands, but he may be best known as one of The Eagles. That band was founded by Don Henley and Glenn Frey. When the band broke up, they both had successful solo careers. Frey even spent some time acting on Miami Vice.Glenn Frey

Miami Vice made Don Johnson famous for his white suits, pastel shirts and cool cars. He was the definition of the 1980s. Johnson tried to parlay his television fame to the movies, but, like many television stars, the transfer didn’t go so well. However, he just appeared as a plantation owner in Django Unchained, the controversial and Oscar-winning film by Quentin Tarantino.Quentin Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino came to the attention of most people when he made Pulp Fiction. Of course, that was a ground breaking film that revitalized the career of John Travolta. He danced. He killed. He got killed before showing back up at the end of the movie. It takes a heck of a writer to come up with something like that.

Welcome Back, Kotter introduced Travolta to television audiences as one of the Sweathogs. A vehicle for comedian Gabe Kaplan, the show ended up focusing on the misfits in an inner city high school. There was Vinnie Barbarino, Horshack, Boom Boom Washington, and Epstein. It stayed on for a couple of years and launched Travolta, unlike Don Johnson, to movie stardom. Kaplan went on to play poker and become a poker commentator.Gabe Kaplan

As a member of the professional poker community, Kaplan has played against many of the great players and won Amarillo Slim’s  Super Bowl of Poker in 1980. Slim was considered one of poker’s great players, but he was a better talker. After his win in the 1972 World Series of Poker, Slim appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.Amarillo Slim

Johnny Carson’s father was known as “Kit” Carson, whose nickname was derived from a famous figure in the history of the American West. He gained fame through many endeavors, including being a trapper in the Rocky Mountains.Kit Carson

One of Joe Walsh’s best songs is Rocky Mountain Way.