I often get approached by people who know me, or maybe know of me,
from my columns in the CardPlayer. Usually they want me to write about
an incident they think is interesting or about an injustice perpetuated
against them, in which they think the whole poker world would be
I always take the time to listen to whoever is telling me of their
proposed column that they think I should be writing. Most of the time I
don't think it's what you readers would be interested in, or it's
something that is negative that I think should be handled on a private
basis. The following incident is one that I thought would be worthy of
The incident occurred a few weeks ago at a casino in Los Angeles.
There were two primary players involved. The two were Jamil "Nick" (a
local player who primarily plays stud and stud-split) and a man
nicknamed Rabbit who lives in Las Vegas usually playing poker at the
Bellagio. Rabbit however does spend a lot of time in Los Angeles and
when here he plays mostly 30-60 stud. On this particular day, Nick was
playing 20/40 stud and a few tables over Rabbit was playing in another
Everything was going normally until there was a commotion at the table
where Rabbit is sitting. Nick explained to me that he was involved in a
pot when out of the corner of his eye he saw Rabbit standing at his
seat, choking on what later Nick would find out was a piece of steak.
Then Nick heard someone yell, "Help! Somebody help him." All of a
sudden, one of the chip runners got his arms around Rabbit, attempting
to perform his version of the Hiemlich maneuver. Heaven knows
whether or not he knew or was even remotely qualified to perform the
Hiemlich maneuver, but he was attempting it. The problem was that the
chip runner was not a big person and Rabbit, let us say, is rather a
robust man. As valiant as the chip-runner's attempts were, they were
just not working.
Nick, who was also not an expert at the Hiemlich, was somewhat familiar
with the maneuver, having seen it performed before. Nick realized that
the chip runner was not big enough to get his arms around Rabbit
sufficiently to perform the maneuver. Nick also realized that Rabbit is
beginning to turn a little blue. At this point, Nick, being a larger man
with a bigger arm span, rushed over, took matters into his own hands,
and began performing the Hiemlich on Rabbit. Nick's first try failed, his
second try-no results. The third try Nick gave it his all and with that
attempt, out flew the culprit--a piece of steak.
I guess that's what you call an act of quick thinking and maybe a bit of
old-fashioned heroism. I was quite impressed when I heard the story
but with all due respect, I didn't think CardPlayer readers would really
be that interested.
A couple of weeks later the "hook" for this story came when I ran into
Nick at the casino. He called me over to the side and said, "You won't
believe what happened." "What?" I asked. "You saved someone else's
life?" "No, he said, "But you remember the guy whose life I saved?"
"Yeah, go on," I said.
Well, Nick went on to say that he hadn't seen Rabbit for a couple of
weeks but earlier in the day he had seen him. In fact they ended up
playing in the same game. At the table Rabbit explained to the table
how Nick had saved his life and all the players agreed someone should
acknowledge Nick's feat. Soon after all the kudos were given to Nick,
the subject was dropped and the game continued.
Shortly after, a large pot came up which started out as a multi-way pot
but on sixth street it was down to two players--Nick and Rabbit. Rabbit
was first to act and he checked. Nick bet and then guess what Rabbit
did. Well he did what any poker player would do when he has the best
hand. He checked raised Nick.
The players at the table, most of who were regulars, went crazy. One
guy who was hysterical with laughter asked, "Let me get this straight.
Didn't you just check raise the guy who saved your life a couple of
weeks ago?" With that comment Nick laughed, Rabbit laughed and all
the other players laughed.
By the time Nick had completed telling me his tale I too was laughing. It
reminded me of a line from the old Chad and Jeremy song from the late
60's that went something like, "But that was yesterday-- and
What a story, I thought. Only in the poker world could a life saving debt
be repaid so quickly, let me say, in such a strange manner. Funny thing
though--isn't that just the way it's supposed to be at the poker table.
For what it's worth …
But That Was Yesterday
By Vince Burgio