Las Vegas, NV
Flushed and decided, he assaults at once;If you have not visited the Rio yet, there are TVs in the hallway playing Main Event final hands on a loop. By now, I ignore the TVs and walk underneath them.
Exploring hands encounter no defence;
His vanity requires no response,
And makes a welcome of indifference.
- The Wasteland by T.S. Eliot
Well, as I made my way towards the TVs at around 10:30pm, I noticed a familiar silhouette gazing up at one of the TV screens. The figure was none other than a gloomy-looking Eskimo Clark.
I guess he couldn't find anyone to put him in a satellite in the Tropical Room or in a second chance event and he was banished to roam the hallways like a tragic oaf straight off the pages of one of Bukowksi novels. Old. Broken. Desperate. Wounded. Unwanted.
The TVs showed Jerry Yang's interview with Norman Chad moments after Yang's victory in the Main Event last July. Eskimo stood there with his hands in his empty pockets and slowly shook his head in disgust. It was an emotionally somber scene to witness. I had been in an unusually jovial mood at this year's WSOP. I gotta say, seeing Eskimo at the moment really brought me down... deep down... into the abyss of despair.
I wish I had my camera to capture that exchange between Eskimo and the TV screen. I wondered kind of what emotions were swirling around Eskimo's head? Jealousy? Anger? Grief? Bitterness? Apathy? Resentment? Hatred? Disappointment? Shame? Hostility? All of the above?
"I've been seeing Eskimo around town for over twenty years," said Flipchip. "He always looked the same. But he's not looking good this year. You can really see it in his face. His health has taken a down turn."
If Eskimo was a race horse, they would have put him down last year when he had a stroke in the Poker Tent. That would have saved him from the humiliation of pissing himself at the Razz final table last year.
Eskimo has become a symbol of all things degenerate in Las Vegas. I wouldn't be surprised to find him crawling on the pavement outside in the smoking area in a search of stray cigarette butts. When you sink so low and become a parasite, the tiniest crumbs become a feast.
Eskimo is an easy target for the internet kids to tool on in the hallways and even for half-baked bloggers like myself to exploit his weaknesses and magnify his shortcomings as fodder for the masses.
But we should really take a long look at Eskimo as a reminder of the macabre side of poker. He's an unhealthy person in an unhealthy environment caught up in indentured servitude to the poker gods, to his backers, and to his morbid addictions.
I had a memory burn on Day 6. If there's one image that will always haunt me for the rest of my life, it's Eskimo staring up at the TV screen in utter disgust.
A lonely old man at the end of his rope reflecting on what could have been.
While Eskimo stood on the outside looking in, Erick Lindgren took center stage. Lindgen and Clark both endured near-death experiences... in pursuit of honor, glory, and greenbacks.
Lindgren almost died last year after that outrageous prop bet worth $350,000 if he could complete four rounds of golf in a single day (walking and carrying his clubs) and shoot under 100 for each round.
Phil Ivey bet Lindgren $200K that he couldn't do it. He said "I don't care of he wins as long as he gets a little punishment." As we all know, Lindgren managed to pull it off and paid dearly for his feat.
I was one of the few people who believed that Lindgren could do it. I bet on him while everyone in the media room bet against him. Here's Part 1 and Part 2 of the original videos of Lindgren's bet. I make a cameo at the end of Part 2.
If there's one thing I learned from that insane incident, it was that Lindgren was one crazy muthafucka. And if he could transcend physical and emotional pain and surpass a rigorous challenge such as that death-defying golf bet, then he definitely had the necessary mental toughness to win a WSOP bracelet. He came close a couple of years ago and missed, but this year he managed to win his first bracelet against one of the toughest final tables in recent history.
These days, you never know if you'll get a chance at making a final table, let alone winning a bracelet. Lindgren had his shot and followed through. He begin the final table fourth in chips. Although ZeeJustin held the lead for most of the final table, Lindgren jumped out to a slight lead once heads up pay began. It only took forty hands before Lindgren extracted the last of ZeeJustin's chips and he achieved his greatest moment in poker... a WSOP bracelet.
Lindgren will now be let off the dreaded list of "Best pros never to win a bracelet."
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