Slowly, ever so slowly, the poker world is beginning to have more than
one Event a year. When I say event, I don’t mean that excluding the
World Series of Poker, there are not some very good tournaments. What
I mean is if tournament poker is ever to make the big jump with
corporate sponsorship, etc., it must be marketed on the basis of
personalities, showmanship and entertainment. I think the big mistake
we have all made over the years was to think that poker could be
marketed strictly on a purist basis.
I think Mike Sexton’s upcoming Tournament of Champions is going to fit
into that category. Mike has told me some of the things the he has
planned, and everyone is going to be pleasantly surprised. Poker is still
going to be the name of the game but your going to see poker in a little
different light. I’m betting the Tournament of Champions is going to fall
into that category of a Poker Event.
In the same vein, I want to talk about a tournament that I just attended
that has become an event. It was the brainchild of Marko Trapani, when
a couple of years ago Marko came up with an idea to introduce his Bay
Area players to the top poker players in the world. He guessed correctly
that if these top players were given an appearance fee, they would be
happy to attend his tournament. One of the conditions that he asked for
was willingness on the part of the stars, as these top players are called,
to be available to meet people, sign autographs, or whatever. He
knew his players would enjoy meeting and playing against the world’s
The name of the tournament, Shooting Star, has two tournaments-- a
$1050 no limit tournament and a $530 limit hold-em event. Marko had
the idea to place one star at each of the 15 tables and place a $1000
bounty on each of the star’s head. This year he added a new wrinkle
where if you knocked out one of the stars, you would get a T-shirt with
the stars picture on it. The T-shirt would read, “I knocked out Scotty
Nguyen” or “Artie Cobb”, or whoever the star happened to be.
As the tournament was about to start, the tournament host, Chuck
Thompson, introduced each star giving a brief biography on the player.
He also had some funny and entertaining ad-libs. (Chuck wants to grow
up to be Jack McClelland.) Eric Seidel was the first star out. Eric, who
had to be one of the favorites to win the tournament, was unfortunate
enough to pick up two Aces against two Kings. One of the next stars out
was Phil Helmuth, who also would have been one of the favorites.
Men the Master provided the players and the gallery, which was quite
large by tournament standards, a lot of laughs. He was scurrying
around offering to pay up to $300 for the T-shirts to the people who had
knocked Eric and Phil out. Men has a unique idea of what things are
worth in the United States. When I asked Men why he was willing to pay
so much for the T-shirts, Men explained he could sell them in Vietnam for
double what he had paid.
The following day, the crowd assembled for the final table. Other than
the World Series of Poker, it was the largest crowd I’ve seen watching a
final table. They also were showing the last table on the television
monitors so the seated players could view the action. The local press
was there plus, as always, Card Player coverage. The tournament
director, Karl Fox, did an admirable job of announcing the hands as
people were eliminated.
I would like to be more descriptive about how the tournament concluded
but when the seventh place finisher, yours truly, was knocked out, I left
and drove back to Los Angeles. On the long ride home, I had plenty of
time to reflect back on the tournament. I began to wonder if I had
properly thanked the staff who had treated all of us so well. In case I
didn’t, let me do it now. Thanks Marko, June, Karl, Chuck and anyone
else that I might have forgotten.
See you next year--for sure.
For what it's worth ...
By Vince Burgio