On my most recent trip to Las Vegas, I had a chance to spend a few days
with my daughter Janell and her husband Jason Reed. My daughter and
her husband live in Northern California but they are moving to Las Vegas.
I decided to show them around the casino, where the poker tournament
was being held, and introduce them to the top people in the poker
business. (I was sure they would see how popular a guy I was.)
I spotted Dave Lamb and introduced my daughter and son-in- law to him.
This first introduction brought about something I hadn't planned on. I
soon realized that I was being taken to task for a column that I had
written a few months ago. It seems the column, which I'm sure you all
remember, was the one I did concerning how in Reno your coats are safe
for hours just hanging on the coat racks.
First of all, Dave is one the nicest guys in the tournament world. He also
has one of the best voices, deep and resonant. So after the
introductions, Dave thanked me for the nice publicity the column had
generated, but went on to explain how it had cost him a lot of pain
recently. Naturally I was concerned and I apologized, and explained that
I was trying to be complimentary to the Reno area. Here I was trying to
impress my daughter and trying to act like a big wheel and suddenly a
tournament director is criticizing me. I again apologized and asked what
specific problem my column had caused.
Dave didn't say anything for a few seconds and the silence was
deafening. That's when I found out that Dave not only has the best
voice in the business, but also has one of the best senses of humor.
Dave with a dead pan look on his face said, "Well, since you wrote that
column, we have lost dozens of coats. It seems that after the column
came out, every coat thief in the country has moved to Reno." Of course
Dave now knows he got me good. My only reaction was a weak, "Very
funny, Dave." Dave was still laughing when I decided we should move
on to greener pastures.
My next encounter was with Jack McClelland. Jack, soft-spoken and
always the gentleman, really impressed my daughter. As we moved on,
Janell said, "What a nice man Jack seems to be." And then she added,
"It's a shame he retired." I laughed and explained that he had retired 3
or 4 times since I've known him. I went on to explain how no one else in
the world could get a way with doing what Jack does. He just smiles at
you and gives you the soothing voice and benevolent smile, and you
forget how many times you have been to his retirement parties. "In
fact," I told her, "he is coming out of retirement again." I then went on
to explain to my daughter that if she wanted to see him in action, all she
had to do was to go to the Horseshoe Tournament in Tunica, Mississippi
in March. The date for his next retirement party, as far as I know, has
not been set yet.
As we continued on our journey through the poker area, I bumped into
Ron McMillan. After the introductions, my daughter once again said,
"What a nice man." I agreed, and explained that Ron owned a few
McDonalds restaurants and is very active in their charity organization for
children with cancer.
A little further on, I was able to introduce her to another of my poker
buddies, Frank Mariani. Again her reaction was, "What a nice, happy
guy!" I told her, "You'd be happy too, if you were one of the owners of
the Los Angeles Lakers and they are currently the best team in the NBA."
A little later we happened on to the grand old man of poker, Oklahoma
Johnny Hale. Johnny turned on the charm, kissed my daughter's hand
and again I was told "What a charming man." It had been a long time
since I saw a man kiss a woman's hand. I wonder why we ever stopped
Well, I guess I could go on and on but it would just be the same old
thing. It seemed everyone to whom I introduced my daughter and
son-in-law, was just so nice and so pleasant to them. I have to admit I
thought I might run into players who might have just been knocked out
of the tournament or had lost a lot in the side games, and maybe they
wouldn't be that receptive to meeting some of my family.
It brought back memories of my childhood. I guess it was like when I
was a kid, and ended up being someplace with my parents, then all of a
sudden I would see a bunch of my friends. I was just sure my parents
were going to embarrass me in front of the most important people in my
world at the time--my friends. Guess what? They not only didn't
embarrass me but the next day my friends said, "Boy, you got cool
As we were leaving the casino, my daughter and her husband both said
they thought I worked with "a really nice" bunch of people. Sometimes I
forget how nice, polite, even cool, you guys can be.
For what it's worth ...
By Vince Burgio