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What Happens on the Road - From the Bird on the Rail

 

With the plethora of poker tournaments springing up everywhere, pro players have to be more selective about which tournaments to play. So where did tournament champions Erik Seidel, Greg Raymer, Paul Phillips, Chris Ferguson, Andy Bloch, Perry Friedman and pro/writers Lou Krieger, Barry Tanenbaum and Nolan Dalla end up the last weekend in July? If you guessed the Mirage Poker Showdown or the Bicycle Casino’s Legends of Poker, you have obviously neglected to consider the almost irresistible lure of BARGE, the Big August (this year July) Rec.Gambling Excursion.

 

It is not the prize pools (relatively low due to the sub $100 buy-ins) or the weather ( Las Vegas in the summer - enough said) that draws players to BARGE like moths to the proverbial flame. BARGE, initiated in 1991 by posters on the usenet newsgroup rec.gambling, has become an annual pilgrimage for rgp and IRC (one of the first internet poker servers) players. While poker is the focus, excessive drinking and silly antics are a requirement. A team of players once showed up for a tournament in full scuba gear. The drunken “craps crawl” through Las Vegas ’ downtown casinos is a tradition. Roshambo (rock-paper-scissors) is the appropriate tool for making all key decisions. Oh, and the poker competition is unmerciful. To get a flavor for BARGE mania, google “BARGE trip report” and be prepared to be shocked and entertained.

Clonie Gowen was the hostess with the mostest at FullTiltPoker.com’s bash at the Mid-America Poker Classic (MAPC) last week. Most guests couldn’t resist playing on the FullTilt site from the computer set up in the cozy suite, evidenced by the oft-heard chorus of “all-in.” But there was definitely a contingent of young male players, standing like deer frozen in the headlights, as the stunning Ms. Gowen chatted with them, the condensate dripping from their beer bottles like drool. Who could blame them? I caught up with Clonie in the bathroom for a smoke, invoking past images of high school girls’ bathroom liaisons.

 

Clonie was thrilled to watch Cyndy Violette’s bracelet winning performance at this year’s WSOP. She was less than satisfied with her own 0 for 14 showing in WSOP events. She admits she wasn’t fully prepared for the demands a run at the Series entails, particularly the endless media schedule and the prolonged time away from home. But Clonie appears to be finding her road groove, already cashing in MAPC’s Pot Limit Omaha event. And FullTilt clearly represents a new kind of home to Clonie, one where her new “tournament” family lives. Clonie is determined, talented, and has demonstrated the ability to make adjustments to both her game and her life. And I’m guessing it won’t be too long before she and Cyndy have matching jewelry.

 

Chris Moneymaker, 2003 WSOP Champion, was another pro that played the MAPC this year. He cut his teeth in Tunica poker rooms and couldn’t resist playing the home turf. But if you remember Chris from the WSOP, you’re liable not to recognize him these days. He’s lost over 30 lbs. It seems when Chris took up the tournament trail after his WSOP victory he also took up the jogging trail. And while he lost some weight, Chris has lost none of his game or his sense of humor. I asked him why he thought online players were doing so well in today’s poker environment. He chuckled and said, “Well I think it’s ‘cause there’s so damn many of ‘em.” When I asked him if his newfound notoriety changed him in anyway, he grinned, “Well I sure had to cut down on my bluffing.” I got him to laugh out loud when I asked him about the reoccurring internet rumors that he was broke. He said as a former accountant, he watches his bankroll pretty carefully, which is one reason he plays very few high buy-in tournament events. And his bankroll was pretty flush when we talked, as he had just cashed out third in MAPC’s Pot Limit Hold’em event.

 

ESPN’s seemingly endless fascination with Dutch Boyd is starting to raise the hackles of the online poker community. While Dutch is portrayed as a prodigy and presumptive poker heir apparent, the online community has a different view of ESPN’s boy wonder. It wasn’t so long ago that Boyd’s online poker site, Pokerspot, went under, taking the players’ accounts with it. The online allegations claim that even once Boyd knew the venture was doomed, he continued to encourage player deposits, hoping to float the company under what could only be viewed as a Ponzi scheme. If ESPN is hoping to promote poker to a mainstream audience or to court viewers who are already well acquainted with the poker community, maybe they should profile players with a less tainted image than Mr. Boyd’s. Just a thought.


 

(© 2005 BluffMagazine. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed)

 


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