I just returned from the Shooting Stars tournament at the Bay 101
Casino in San Jose, California. To say it is my favorite poker tournament
would be an understatement. I have been honored the past couple of
years to be one of the "stars."
I honestly believe I am telling the truth when I say, even if I had never
been asked to be a star, I would still consider the Shooting Stars
tournament one of the best, fun tournaments on the circuit. They just
do everything right and make everyone, the stars, and even their own
local players, feel appreciated.
I think one of biggest reasons most people have fun, is because there is
a $1,000 bounty on all the "stars." When you bust one of the bounties
you get $1,000, plus a tee shirt saying, "I busted Vince Burgio." And
just to add a little flavor to the whole thing, there's a guy waiting with
camera in hand to get a picture of the happy winner of the $1,000
bounty with the "star" that has just been knocked out.
The stars each put $100 in a kitty and the one that puts on the most
convincing smile with the lucky bounty hunter who has knocked him out,
gets the whole $1,500. Okay, that’s a lie. We don't really do that
'cause every star thinks his, "look I just got knocked out and I'm still
smiling," performance is the best.
I hope no one thinks that I am saying all these nice things about the
tournament hoping to drum up business for the future tournaments at
Bay 101, because nothing could be further from the truth. You see, they
sell out every year. You can not walk in the day of the tournament and
get a seat. What you'll hear is, "Sorry, we've been sold out for three
I can usually bank on the fact that if I attend a tournament, I will usually
find an occurrence or story that I can use in an upcoming column. This
year after the tournament, I was disappointed in that nothing occurred
in San Jose that I could use in my writings. At least, that's what I
thought until the day after I got home. I guess I better back up and fill
in some blanks.
There is a very nice motel just a few yards from the Casino at Bay 101.
Most of the people who come in from out of town stay there. I stayed
there this trip along with several friends who also were "stars" and had
come up from the Los Angeles area.
The day of the last tournament many of us were having the continental
breakfast, that is served in the lounge. I was enjoying a toasted bagel
and drinking my coffee when Barbara Enright from Los Angeles, who is
one of the top poker players on the circuit, and just happens to be a
very good friend, came over and asked me if I had driven up to San
Jose. I answered yes, then she explained she had flown up and since
she had been in San Jose had picked up several goodies. So many, in
fact, that she had too much stuff to carry back on the plane. Would I,
she asked, be so kind as to take a large shopping bag back with me in
my car? Sure, I said, and with that I took possession of a large white
shopping bag which I later stored in my van.
When I arrived back in Los Angeles, Barbara contacted me and we
agreed we would meet at the Bicycle Club about one o'clock that very
afternoon to make the bag transfer. I arrived at the Bike a little before
one and strolled into the entrance with this large, white shopping bag.
A few steps after entering the building, I was stopped by a very large,
male security guard. He was very polite when he asked me, "What's in
the bag?" My response, and it really was the truth, was, "I don't know.
It belongs to somebody else." Naturally, I got a little bit of a funny look
and then he said, "We have to inspect all bags like this." "O.K." I said,
"Go ahead." Then he said, "No sir, you'll have to take out the contents."
I thought I really don't like snooping around in someone else's bag, but
I guess I have to. I opened the bag, reached inside, and much to my
surprise pulled out a pair of pink panties. The guard gave me a look and
I knew exactly what it meant. It meant, "Keep going." " Great," I'm
thinking, "What next?" You guessed it. The next thing I know, I see my
hand coming out of the bag with a black bra. At this point the security
guy had seen enough. One long stare, then a confused look, then he
turned around and left me. Needless to say, the bag had passed
inspection. No guns, knives, or bombs, but almost worse. Now this
security guy thinks I am, well hell, I don't know what he thinks I am.
Eventually we made the transfer of the shopping bag and I decided to
calm my nerves, so I sat down in a peaceful 30-60 hold-em game. A
couple of times while playing, I glanced up at the little stand where the
security guards sit to see if my newly-acquired security friend was
there. I know it was probably my imagination, but I swear every time I
looked up, I thought he was looking in my direction with a kind of, "I
know about you," look on his face.
If you're wondering why I spent a column writing about this incident, I
guess the reason is, I just wanted to give my side of the story. Just in
case that security guard has a big mouth, and starts spreading rumors
around that I'm a cross dresser or some kind of a weirdo.
I hope Marko Trapani, Chuck Thompson, and all the other nice people at
Bay 101 believe my story. It's true. Honest. And I sure would like to be
invited back to their tournament next year.
For what it's worth ...
Star or Starlet?
By Vince Burgio