I love the Orleans Open tournament in July. I know the buy-ins are small,
and because of that you might think many of the top tournament players
would find the tournament uninteresting. The truth of the matter is, most
of the top players go to that tournament. You would be right in making
the case that even though the buy-ins are small, the fields are so large
that there are many good paydays for a very small investment. Many of
my colleagues tell me that it’s a time when they can bring their wives or
families to Vegas and not have the stress of a big-money tournament. It’
s a time to sort of unwind, have some fun, and maybe even beat one of
those 400-player fields.
Last July at one of the tournaments at The Orleans, I was sitting at the
same table with some fun guys — Mike O’Malley, aka rzitup, and Daniel
Negreanu. Also at the table was the not-so-fun Howard “Tahoe” Andrew.
My wife was with me on that particular day, and was sitting off to the
side. Sometimes, especially in small tournaments, I can get a little antsy,
which means I get up, talk to my wife, walk around, and gossip with
some nearby friends. This particular poker day started like many others
when my wife has accompanied me. The second time I got up to go over
and talk to her, she told me in no uncertain terms, “Go back and sit
down; you’re annoying the other players.”
“Well,” I said, “I’m not the only one getting up.” I was a little teed off, so
I went back to the table and took out a pencil and piece of paper. I was
going to prove to my wife that I get up less than lots of the players.
I knew from experience that “Tahoe” can be like a caged lion, as he
cannot sit still for more than a couple of minutes. Mike O’Malley has ants
in his pants, too. Lastly, there’s Daniel, who makes getting up from his
chair an art form. How do you think this kid got so thin? He’s like a yo-yo
— up and down, up and down.
After a while, someone began to catch on to what I was doing, so I
exposed the little contest that I was conducting. I promised and made
everyone else promise not to get out of his seat just to receive a good
score. We would get up only when we normally would have gotten up,
without regard to my contest.
The tournament started at exactly noon, but my little contest didn’t get
going until about 12:30 p.m. Our table broke at almost exactly 3:30 p.m.
The results were as follows, and I will swear to them: Last place —
Howard “Tahoe” Andrew, a paltry five times. Howard confided to me
later that he had a bad day because his feet were hurting. He asked if
we could have the contest again when his feet felt better. Second to the
last — Vince Burgio, a rather unimpressive 10 times. You see, I really don’
t get up as much as my wife thinks. Runner-up — Mike O’Malley, 16
times. Mike put up a good battle, but he just couldn’t keep up with the
champ. Champion — Daniel Negreanu, a whopping 25 times in three
hours. It really was no contest, and I think even early on that we all
sensed Daniel was the best. He is built for the event (thin and wiry), and
he’s got youth on his side.
I would also like to bestow an “Honorable Mention” on some of the
people who did not get to be in the contest, but who I know would have
In order for everyone to know that I have no gender bias, I would like to
award the first honorable mention to a great competitor and, in my
opinion, the best of all the women players, Melissa Hayden. Melissa is
fairly new on the scene, but has taken to getting up and down like a
duck to water. I foresee a bright future for this young lady.
Next is Phil Hellmuth, who’s a cagey veteran and is no doubt the master
of the late tournament entry. No one even tries to keep up with him in
that category. As far as getting up from his chair is concerned, Phil has
his good days and his bad days. On Phil’s good days, he is as good as
the best. It is almost directly proportional to the number of bad beats he
thinks he has taken. If he thinks he has had more than his share of
beats put on him, he can be an up-and-down monster. He also tends to
experience some lag time in getting up and down when he is allowed to
wear a music headset — I think it sort of slows his reflexes.
One of the problems with trying to recognize other players who might be
worthy of mention is that smokers have an unfair advantage. You see
guys like Brian Nadell and Scotty Nguyen get up from their chairs many
times during a tournament, but it’s to smoke. Since we all know that
smoking is not good for you, I just don’t think we should count them as
For what it’s worth …
By Vince Burgio