Friday, July 21, 2006

Lee Watkinson's Chimps Gone Wild and Ode to Paul McKinney

I get fed stories everyday from players, media reps, dealers, and even the occasional hooker. Most of them are rumors, bad beat stories, and random stuff that I wish I could make up. This morning one of my sources tracked me down in the media room. She told me about what happened when ESPN's crew went to Lee Watkinson's house for a shoot.

Lee has several chimpanzees. One of them was overly friendly and French kissing Lee's wife. Another went "ape shit" and spit at one of the ESPN producers. Yet another one threw power tools such as a saw and even a hammer got hurled at the production crew.

Then one went completely wild and bit one of the female members of ESPN's crew. Poor girl spent the night in the emergency room getting treatment which included shots. I'm pretty sure the trip to the ER was out of pocket for her. I'm confident that ESPN's insurance plan does not cover chimp bites.

Rumor has it that one or more of the chimps were roaming the neighborhood. If you live in the Las Vegas Valley, beware of hammer throwing chimps.

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The French film crew were chain smoking outside while one of their team played on Full Tilt in the media room.

Jen from Blonde Poker lived off of cigarettes and diet soda last year. I never saw her without either during the 2005 main event. This year she had been on a water and popcorn diet. Today she upgraded to French fries. She calls them "chips."

She was so tired that she crawled underneath one of the banquent tables in the media room so she could take a cat nap. I considered doing that during the Horse event and chose my car instead.

ESPN's Steve Rosenbloom made his first appearance at this year's WSOP. He told us that he might morph into "grumpy old man" by the middle of the main event because the Rio banned smoking in the hallways. Steve likes a good stogie while he writes and transcribes interviews. I was flattered to hear he'd been following the WSOP via my blog.

I've been feeding Otis music to soothe his soul. The past two days I've been feeding him an "almost Acoustic set" of Jerry Garcia Band and the Pizza Tapes featuring Jerry and David Grisman. Today it's been Galactic, Widespread Panic, The Wood Brothers, Bob Dylan with the Band, and My Morning Jacket.

Michael Craig told me that he was going to play in the Razz event on Saturday. He's never played Razz before and said that Ted Forrest was going to teach him. Ted supposedly loses his cell phone all the time. I wanted to make a prop with Michael Craig... Will Ted Forrest lose his cellphone before Craig busts out of the Razz event?

Storms and I did a prop bet that resulted in a tie. We were doing over the head backwards empty water bottle tosses in the media room. Don't ask. We were bored.

After Wil busted out of today's event he called me. He wanted to go drink. We headed to the Tilted Kilt for a late afternoon session of beers and deep philosophical thought. I realized I've been drinking there more than the Hooker Bar.

By the way, thanks for reading everyone. There's still three hours left in this day (according to my stat tracker which records via EST) and I've hit the highest day of traffic for 2006. I haven't had these many visitors since last year's main event.

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2005 WSOP Seniors Champion Paul McKinney

So what's wrong with this picture of Paul McKinney? Think about it while I tell you some background on Paul McKinney.

partypokerad.gifWhen he was a GI during WWII, he was being shipped out to the Pacific Theater to fight the Japanese. He boarded a ship in Los Angeles, and by the time the ship docked in Hawaii, McKinney had won enough money that he wired the majority of his poker winnings back home to his parents in Tennessee. They used the money to buy a house that they would live in for the remainder of their lives.

McKinney absolutely crushed the games on his ship. He made a reputation for himself so much so that the Admiral called him into his office.

"Private McKinney," he barked, "I heard that you've won a lot of money playing poker. You aren't cheating are you Private?"

"No sir!" he quickly answered, "I don't have to, sir!"

That's my favorite Paul McKinney story. For years he played in local games. He first caught the attention of the poker world when he made the final table of the 1998 WSOP main event. That was the year that Scotty Nguyen won when he enticed Kevin McBride into calling when he shouted, "You call and it's all over, baby!"

McKinney took 9th place that year. In his official poker career, which began in his 60s, he made six final tables at the WSOP and went deep at the WPT Foxwoods. At the 2005 WSOP, McKinney won the Seniors NL event which made him the oldest player to ever win a bracelet. You will rarely find him without his trademark cigar.

So what's wrong with that picture of Paul McKinney?

In the old days at the WSOP when it was Benny's brain child and held downtown at the Horseshoe, he'd be smoking the cigar. You also would not see all that corporate sponsorship. Let's face it. I was in a fraternity and even us broke and drunken frat boys cringed at the thought of drinking Beast Lite. Yet we have the greatest poker tournament in the world sponsored by one of the shittiest beers on the planet.

On the table you'll notice three logos which is not directed to the players at the table. It's for the people at home watching any portions of the WSOP telecast. The Beast, ESPN, and WSOP want to make sure you catch a glimpse of their logos when you are watching the flop come out.

Amy Calistri, Steve Rosenbloom, and I had a conversation this morning about the big business aspect of poker. She quoted that infamous line in North Dallas Forty... "Everytime I say it's a game you say it's a business. Everytime I say it's a business, you say it's a game."

Poker is big business.

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