Thursday, July 31, 2008

Meet The Final Table 009: Peter Eastgate

Well, it's been quite a ride. I'd like to thank you all for reading about all my friends at the final table. The November Nine are an interesting group, and no mistake.

A lot of you out there have asked me who I think is most likely to win the whole crate of kippers this Thanksgiving Season, and as tempting as it is for me to speculate, I must demur. I can't play favorites, it wouldn't be fair to the others, especially not to Darus Suharto, who doesn't have a prayer.

Godspeed to them all.


Name: Peter Eastgate

Age: 37

Occupation: Hero.

Nickname: "Galahad."

Poker Style: Pure. Strong. Brave. True.

Card Capper: A lock of his fair lady's hair, sealed by the grateful tears of a consumptive orphan.

Favorite Country Song: If I Can't Be Number One In Your Life, Then Number Two On You,by Lorleena Smitty.

Brief Bio: Peter is the best person anybody will ever know. He eats organic honey and craps gold nuggets. He rides around the world astride his mighty steed, Bruce, helping any people who need it, standing up for the little guy, pulling himself up by his own bootstraps, pulling the little guy up by the little guy's bootstraps, making bootstraps for the bootstrap-less, helping kittens out of trees, helping baby birds back into trees, helping trees see themselves for the forest, and helping forests pay their mortgages before foreclosure. It's what he does. He cannot tell a fib, though he can run a mighty bluff. He can ford a river, jump a canyon, rope a steer, bench press an ostrich, roast a fine and tasty brisket, and teach a woman how to love. He can't cure cancer, but he can rough it up a little.

Tales about his good deeds are endless. Once he came across an old lady whose family farm was about to be foreclosed by an evil corporation that wanted to put up a strip mall on the spot. As the villains twisted their mustaches in vexation, they watched as Peter Eastgate rode up and, without a thought to his own safety, used his own funds to put that old woman in the finest nursing home available.

Another time, he came upon an Oklahoma town stricken by drought. Nobody could find a well, no matter how they tried, and the crops were drying up. They didn't have anything to wash with, and feared they'd have to leave their town or die of thirst. Peter Eastgate came into that dusty town one summer evening, and told them so many first-rate knock-knock jokes that they forgot their troubles for a spell. Afterward, they saw he'd eaten most of their fresh fruit, but comedy is hungry work.

I tell you what, buddy. If he ever teams up with the A-Team, the forces of petty cruelty and mendacity had better watch their backs.

Fun Fact: If Peter Eastgate wins the tournament, he is going to give it to you. That's right, you. Because he loves you, that's why.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Meet The Final Table 008: Kelly Kim

BBT impresario Al Can't Hang linked me up over at his new work home on the Bloggers From The Rail site on Full Tilt. Al is, of course, a mensch, and the link is most appreciated and his words very kind, but one thing he said just sticks in my craw like a half-swallowed varmint. It's this:

"He's currently running a completely made-up set of "bios" on the WSOP November Nine."

What??! Are you for real? This is pretty hard to chew and even harder to swallow. I think I've been clear from the start that every minute mote of this is gospel. These men are my teachers, my schoolchums, my running buddies. I know them, I know their stories, and I'm going to tell the world about them, even if the powers-that-be tsk-tsk me to death. I even had to burn ESPN to the ground to protect myself and to insure your ability to read about these guys who made the final table. I suppose this assumption of Al's is based on some of the more colorful details in these biographies, but I can't help that, people. I do not embellish; I merely report.

Again, and I'm telling you for the last time. These are the Daves I know, I know. These are the Daves I know.


Name: Kelly Kim

Age: 22

Occupation: Internet Pro, Student, Scrimshander.

Nickname: "Ahab."

Poker Style: Tight-aggressive. When he's aggressive, he's very very aggressive. But when he's tight, he's horrid. He makes Scandinavians nervous. Scandinavians also make him nervous, but that's another story and has to do with herring soaked in lye.

Card Capper: A bust of Stu Ungar carved from a whale's tooth.

Favorite Country Song: Mama Get A Hammer (There's A Fly On Papa's Head), by Digger-Doug Dale.

Brief Bio: Kelly is the youngest of the nine final tablists (he is also the only one with two girl's names, but let's just let that one slide). I used to baby-sit for his younger siblings when he was a high school freshman. Even then he was 8-tabling Party and crushing. He's never played an MTT online before, sticking strictly to cash. Until now he's been completely unknown in the poker world, but famous in trailer parks and nursing homes across the nation, not to mention anywhere in Dollywood or Graceland, for his art.

He's used $475,082 of his online winnings to purchase tons of fossilized whalebone, into which he carves meticulous shapes, mainly of characters from old sitcoms. His Mama's Family whalebone retrospective fetched a record price on QVC. He's carved a scrimshaw replica of every sweater Bill Cosby ever wore. He did a life-sized A-Team out of a blue whale's ribs. He's carved every one of Rachael's hair styles. He did one of Sanford (sans Son) faking "the big one", and every individual Redd Foxx whisker is articulated as clearly as the blades of grass on God's own lawn. The work on the suspenders alone . . . why, he must have sweat blood to get the effect he wanted. Clearly, this is a kid with the determination and patience to win it all.

The other thing about Kelly: He can't jump. No vertical whatsoever. The kid can't clear a stick of gum. I don't know if this will matter in heads-up play, but it's something to think about when you're placing prop bets.

Fun Fact: Kelly will be protested in November not only by Greenpeace, who takes issue with his medium of choice, but also by the Screen Actor's Guild, for use of images without proper approval, and by the nit-picking standards committee of his gated community, which believes that he is in the bylaws forbid him from painting his mailbox whalebone white. They also have a problem with the 43 foot high pile of whale remains in his front yard. And whale remains aren't even mentioned in the bylaws, anywhere. What a bunch of bottle-noses.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Meet The Final Table 007: Ivan Demidov

Once again, a bio of one of the 2008 WSOP Finalists, all of whom I know personally.


Name: Ivan Demidov

Age: 214

Occupation: Ninja, U.S. Presidential Candidate

Nickname: Strangely, "Ivan Demidov" is a nickname. The man's real name is Chip-Slick Slim Buddy-Ace, so you can see why he just sticks with the sobriquet. Call him by his given name and you might just get an ashiko in your jugular.

Poker Style: Surfs the crest of variance's wave. Sucks out way more often than most.

Card Capper: Nothing but a firm glare and a poker chip.

Favorite Country Song: How Can I Miss You If You Won't Go Away? , by Sandy Sun.

Brief Bio: Ivan trained me at UC Berkeley in the deadly art of the ninja, and he certainly made an impression on the whole class. In fact, he killed all but two of us. Cadaverous in appearance, mercurial in nature, and deadly as month-old sushi, Ivan Demidov resides in a short castle on a tiny island just north of South Padre in Texas with his pet Komodo Dragon, Steve, and his major domo, Beatrice, who makes a delicious quiche and assists Ivan with housekeeping, appointments, and light killing.

Born in the early 1800's in Philadelphia, Ivan has preserved himself through diet and meditation, and also he might be lying about his age. Don't tell him you suspect tomfoolery, though. He'll cut you, I promise. He's an old guy, but he can still run up a building and put a sai in your eye.

Every four years, Ivan runs for president as the official nominee of the Ninja Party. They favor elimination of taxes on payments for assassinations, incentives for grappling hook investment, a repeal on the embargo on throwing stars, chigiriki, and neko-te. They also favor open markets, a strong military, mandatory stealthiness for schoolchildren over the age of twelve, solar and wind development, and, of course, the liberal use of pirates in medical experiments.

In 2004, he got 35 votes, and he hopes that his run in the WSOP will allow him to improve upon that record.

Fun Fact: Ivan likes to knit.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Meet The Final Table 006: 'David' Chino 'Rheem'

Funny story: My buddy Dennis Phillips contacted me from Nairobi yesterday and said that he wasn't in the World Series of Poker, and that he was pretty sure that the guy at the final table was a different Dennis Phillips. I laughed at the obvious joke.

Then Dennis emailed me, saying that none of the stuff I said was true at all, and that he'd never met me, and that he'd certainly never overthrown the government of Antigua. He was acting really angry. He'd even created a completely different email address to complete the ruse. What a clown.

Just another example of the silliness I have to put up with for bringing you the truth unvarnished.


Name: "David" Chino "Rheem"

Age: 54

Occupation: Circus Freak Talent Scout

Nickname: "Mister."

Poker Style: Tight for hours, and then, suddenly, drunkenly, violent.

Card Capper: The world's smallest woman (14" tall).

Favorite Country Song: You're the Reason Our Kids Are So Ugly, by Pappa T. Coleslaw

Brief Bio: Chino is a small, neat, and unassuming man, and you'd little suspect that he's the most respected finder of human oddities in North America. He was born into the life. His mother was an acrobat and his father was a clown, and he is the great-great-grandnephew of the legendary "freak" Zip the Pinhead.

His profession aside, he has in private life all but rejected his roots in the business of show. He cultivates the image of a man of taste and refinement, serves as a judge of note at vodka tastings, competes in amateur bullfighting tournaments and is a chef of great skill. He enjoys entertaining at his villa, Italian opera, philately, and pheasant hunting. He can tie his own bow tie while blindfolded. He grooms his thin hair with a mustache comb. He almost never blinks. He is the veteran of 28 transcontinental balloon expeditions.

Chino travels the world seeking primo exotics, following leads and meeting with royalty and peasant alike. He's very precise; only the finest freak will do. He rejected a 20" little person once for having bad ankles. He's found a four legged boy in Mongolia, a worm girl in Hanoi, bearded ladies galore in Bavaria, a man with an eyeball for a head in the Tennessee foothills, and he is personally responsible for the signing of Alex Rodriguez to the New York Yankees.

They even say he once found a real live gnome. Pointy red hat and all. It's impossible to verify, but, once you know the rumor, it is equally impossible not to be unnerved when you take lunch on the patio of his house. He has an immense garden, and his collection of gnomes is impressive. There are perhaps more than a thousand clay gnomes peeking from every rose bush and bramble, and you'll never know if one set of eyes aren't watching you.

Fun Fact: Chino can hold 104 Necco Wafers in his mouth simultaneously, a record he currently holds with the good people at Guinness. He tried the same trick on Day Four with his chips and was hit with a three-orbit penalty (it should be noticed that Doyle Brunson has had 3 poker chips tucked into each cheek since 2003 without penalty).

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Meet the Final Table 005: Darus Suharto

It's over.

Thank you for bearing with me in my week-long absence. Please understand that this lacuna in my posting was very, very, very, very, very fun. Necessary! I meant necessary!

As you know, I was amazed to discover a fortnight ago that the entire final table of the 2008 Main Even of the WSOP was made up of my friends and acquaintances. I know! Unbelievable! Because of this extraordinary confluence, I did what any responsible and decent human being who was trying to make a quick buck would have done: I started publishing unembellished and true profiles of them, the better to inform the poker community at large, or at least to inform all the people who read my blog, by whom I mean, Pete.

But soon my altruism led me into a morass of danger and ugliness. Shadowy entities threatened me first with legal action, then with bodily harm, and finally with grisly death for me and my family. Upon investigation, it became clear to me that ESPN, fearing the damage I would do to the false narrative they wished to foist upon the nine finalists, had put a significant price on my head. And that's why I had to go underground for all of last week, trusting only on my wits, my millions of dollars, my rugged good looks, my near-encyclopedic understanding of all makes and calibers of deadly weapons and explosives, and my decade's training in black ops elite counter-espionage assassin ninja school at UC Berkeley.

Now I have finished what business I had with the Worldwide Leader, and I'm quite pleased to report that my victory has been absolute. Nothing but a smoldering crater marks the spot which once was the turbid town of Bristol, Connecticut. Kenny Mayne has sworn fealty to me and promised a mighty tribute each year in cash, beef jerky, and play poker chips on's poker room. Bill Simmons has agreed to only print my letters in his Mailbag for the next seven years, and to never write about poker ever again. Stuart Scott has signed away both his lazy eye and his "Boo-ya" to me.*

And so, finally, it's over. I and my family have been put beyond the reach of that nefarious network, forever. I'm free to finish delivering to you, as promised, the nine true human faces behind the hype that has already begun to foment from the media moss like so many poisoned mushrooms. Therefore, today, and every day for the rest of this week, I'll be bringing you the triple truth, Ruth, and that should finish us up for the final table.

* I will, of course, put "Boo-ya" in escrow, ensconced in a safe deposit box, where it will never bother anybody ever again. You are quite welcome.


Name: Darus Suharto

Age: 34

Occupation: Stuntman, Elementary School Teacher.

Nickname: "Mildred Massachusetts."

Poker Style: Darus actually isn't yet aware that he is playing poker. He thinks he is playing a Euchre variant called "Oopsie Dingus", and is operating under the assumption that Ylon Schwartz has been his playing partner since halfway through Day 5. I would assume somebody will tell him before November. If nobody else does, I will.

Card Capper: Darus just rests his head on the table, which includes his cards. Good enough.

Favorite Country Song: Dropkick Me, Jesus, Through the Goalposts of Life, by Bobby Bare

Brief Bio: Darus is one of the toughest dudes in the world. You cannot hurt him. Don't even try it. Better men than you have dented their sledge hammers, bent their front bumpers, and made their brand new brass knuckles cry 'uncle.' He's one of guys they use in the movies whenever they want to drop somebody off of a building.

Don't believe the talk about safety nets and CGI, etc. It's all been unionized since the 1940's, back when there were no special effects technology or precautionary measures, and as the Forties is the decade when the rules got drafted, the practice thereof has not budged so much as a Moorish menhir ever since. So, even if the studio uses CGI, they have to pay union fees just the same as if they'd dropped somebody for real. They even had to cough it up for union stunt work on The Simpsons Movie. Sometimes if the studio is in a pinch, they'll drop a dummy, such as Dustin Diamond or Cory Haim, but even so Darus gets paid anyway. Pretty sweet gig if you have the pain threshold for it.

Darus gets all the building drops in the Midwest territory, so whenever they are shooting in Chicago or the Twin Cities or even Bad Axe, Michigan, Darus is the guy they call, unless the person being dropped goes through a window of some kind. They've got another guy to get thrown through windows. Daris actually prefers working Bad Axe to Chicago, where the tallest building is a mere two-and-a-half stories. After they dropped him off the John Hancock building the first time, he couldn't remember anything that started with the letter "T" for a while. The second time, he couldn't poo for sixteen months. It's tough stuff, even for somebody as rugged as Darus, but that's why he's paid the big bucks. His current hobbies are drooling while staring off into the middle distance, and stroking a tiny piece of chamois cloth, which feels so nice and soothing on his palms.

He likes poker, mainly for the felt tables. They're so soft.

He's one of my oldest chums. I've known him since 2nd grade. I hope he wins, because he plans to use some of the money to buy a new spine and a reinforced skull.

Fun Fact: Much like known pros such as "Skittery" Phil Laak and David "David" Williams, Darus played Hungry Hungry Hippos for years before finding prominence in the poker world. He is a star on the professional Hungry Hungry Hippos tour, where he's won over $14,000 and a lifetime supply of S'mores.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Meet The Final Table 004: Scott Montgomery

Wow, that was intense. It involved some of the best moped driving I've ever seen on the part of my four-year old daughter, a couple near misses on the fire escape, and some serious wangling for quick disguises outside a Chinese laundry, but I believe I've escaped the villains for now. Some day I'll give the full account of the heroism I have seen and the base wickedness of my pursuers, but the important this is this: my family is going to be safe while I do what needs doing.

I'm not going to even disclose what state I am in at this point. I may even be abroad. I am typing this on a disposable laptop with an encrypted ISP. I'm destroying it as soon as I hit "Send."

It was ESPN. I should have known ESPN was behind this from the start. But they made a big mistake. They let me get away. Now I get supplies. Now I take the fight to them. This ends on my terms.

I'll be back in a week with the rest of the profiles of my friends and acquaintances at the final table.


Name: Scott Montgomery

Age: 40

Occupation: Telephone psychic, fortune cookie poet.

Nickname: "Throatwobbler Mangrove" aka "Hicky Burr", aka "Skinny"

Poker Style: Trappy; will shoot angles at every opportunity.

Card Capper: A fortune cookie, which he'll eat only if he wins the whole thing.

Favorite Country Song: If I Had Shot You When I Wanted To I'd Be Out Of Jail By Now, by Gordon Earl Bainbridge III

Brief Bio: Scott Montgomery is the kindest predator you'll ever be eaten by. He puts in 12 hours every day on the phones, except for Saturday, dispensing platitudes disguised as supernatural insight. His voice is the gentle purr of the car filling your garage with exhaust. He can get your social security number from you like a parson picking a pauper's purse. You won't even know you gave it. He'll give you great advice, though. Save your marriage. Get the girl. Improve your love life, or your golf swing, or mend your relationship with your children. Then he'll slash your credit rating and buy himself a car. He stole my identity once, but he didn't like it and gave it back. There was gum under the seat. He's a slob.

On Saturdays, though. . . that is when his soul sings. That's when he takes the most heart-rending, the most beautiful, the most compelling of his client's stories, and crafts beautiful sparse poems about them for a fortune cookie magnate out of Chicago. His services are in high demand, and he is careful not to give away detail that would cause him to be caught telling tales out of class.

Once a night, however, he just can't help himself, and he throws a poison paper grenade in there, something dark and too specific. You don't know if, following a repast of General Tso's Chicken, you'll open your little twisted biscuit to read:

She knows it was you.


You're not fooling anybody.


Meet me at the corner of Mulberry and Swanson. Wear a white silk hat so I'll know it is you. I have your money.

or simply.

They're coming.

His greatest fear is that one day he'll get amnesia and unwittingly steal his own identity. Such a weird guy.

Fun Fact: Montgomery goes antiquing obsessively. He can often be found at the flea market, buying, oh, just about anything. Living room, bedroom, dinette. Oh yeah, you can find him, at the market -- I'm talking 'bout flea market -- Montgomery, flea market. It's just like a mini-mall. Hey hey. Flea market. Montgomery. It's just like . . . it's just like, ah, a mini-mall.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Meet The Final Table 003: Ylon Schwartz

I am a little -- more than a little -- freaked out.

I am writing this from an undisclosed motel with free (or at least unprotected) wifi. To make a long story short, I am on the lam from shadowy forces in the poker power structure.

I woke up this morning and peeked through the shades on a whim. I'm not given to paranoia but the lawyer with his mafia bodyguard yesterday spooked me. What I saw when I made that fateful peek chilled my blood. There was a yellow car with Harrah's Entertainment decals on the doors parked across the street from my house. Inside the car was the unmistakable figure of Lon McEachern, wearing a fake mustache (possibly borrowed from Norman Chad) and holding binoculars. As I gazed, I saw the rumors of a sniper rifle on the passenger seat. I never poured milk on my cereal, but instead hustled my family out the back door.

Let me be blunt. The organizing bodies behind the World Series of Poker is trying to take me out. To silence me. All because I happen to know each and every member of the final table of this year's main event, and am giving my readership the real story about them, unvarnished and without pancake makeup. Apparently the threat of the public seeing these players as human beings, blackheads and all, instead of as mighty warriors, conflicts enough with the interests of the illuminati that I have become a liability and an intended casualty.

I could stop, but we've gone too far now. I'm going to keep moving for a week or more, but when (if?) I find I safe place, I will return to give you these profiles. The world ought to know the truth. It must.

Godspeed, my friends.


Name: Ylon Schwartz

Age: 29

Occupation: Pig iron seller; thief.

Nickname: Yoln.

Poker Style: Passive-aggressive. You may take his chips, but he'll give you a serious guilt trip about it.

Card Capper: The world's smallest manhole cover, pried from the sidewalk in front of a roach motel.

Favorite Country Song: You're The Reason Our Kids Are So Ugly, by Lindylou Biddinger.

Brief Bio: Ylon has been a sort-of-friend of mine since grade school, and still crashes on my couch whenever one of his girlfriends is trying to find him while holding a hammer or worse. He's that friend. You know the one; seven kinds of fun and eight kinds of trouble. He was kicked out of our middle school for arranging a hamster-fighting ring for gambling purposes. Those hamsters were no good after that; you can't feed a hamster pellets when it has the taste for blood.

He bummed around, finally dropping out of technical college two weeks in after he got his soldering gun privileges revoked for malicious tomfoolery and horseplay with a motherboard after curfew. It was nothing but one hustle after another from there. He finally settled into thievery when he found that he could get top dollar for scrap iron. He has incredibly strong fingers and the arms of an ape, so manhole covers are mere Frisbees to him. One incredible October fortnight, he filched every single manhole in Norwitch, Vermont. He moves from city to city and leaves significant potholes in his wake, and if you suddenly taste sewer water in the middle of your walk, it may just be courtesy of this fellow.

He is the first person in WSOP history to have used raw iron to buy into the Main Event (though Phil Hellmuth used it for a $2000 NLHE Event buyin back in 1987).

Fun Fact: Ylon has 7,934 patents pending, none of them for actual inventions. He's tried to patent solar energy, the idea of holding things in tubes, inertia, gravity, currency as a concept, urination, flatulence, pork pie hats, sidewalks, and himself. When you meet him, he'll present you with his bill for royalties for making use of his intellectual property, which is why the $9 million first place prize seems like peanuts to him.

Also, he's a crazy person.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Meet The Final Table 002: Craig Marquis

OK, in case you missed it the most amazing thing happened. I woke up yesterday to check who was at the final table, and instead of seeing any big-name pros, I saw nine people that I know personally.

Thus, I'm bringing you the full list of final table-ists, the inside scoop from a man who knows them.

However, a dark side has developed. A vicious lawyer with a face like a melted ice-cream scoop showed up on my front stoop at 8:00 AM sharp, and served me papers to cease and desist. Apparently my utterly true accounts have ruffled some feathers and don't jibe with the "story" that Harrah's Entertainment and ESPN want to "craft." They also claim that I am a "mental case" who is "making" stuff "up". I assure you, nothing can be further from the truth. Nevertheless, this lawyer seems like he means business. He had a Ukrainian bodyguard with him whose neck was riddled with prison tattoos and whose face crawled with dueling scars. I offered him some green tea but he just growled.

No matter. I mock danger and giggle at litigation. So here we go.


Name: Craig Marquis

Age: 72

Occupation: Animal wrassler, truck stop attendant.

Nickname: "Stenchy Pete"

Poker Style: Tighter than Greg LaMond's shorts.

Card Capper: A toe he shot off'n the woman he loved one night when there warnt no moon.

Favorite Country Song: I Wouldn’t Take Her To a Dog Fight, Cause I’m Afraid She’d Win, by Prickles P. Sicking

Brief Bio: Craig Marquis was born in Hartford, CT with a silver spoon in his mouth, and another one in each ear. The doctor had never seen anything like it, but at least his parent were rich enough to pay for removal. His mother was heiress to the Schnoolty paper clip fortune and his daddy was a potato baron who moved them all to Idaho when Craig was just seven. Weeks later, the Depression had claimed every dime and his father had committed suicide by jumping from Boise's tallest building (two stories at the time, but there was a picket fence at the bottom) and his mother wandered off into the wilderness, leaving young Craig Marquis with nothing but his clothes and his teeth.

Luckily, Marquis was taken in by area survivalists, who fed him jerky and trained him in feats of strength by having him fight beasts for their amusement. He started off with larger squirrels and the occasional peevish prairie dog, but soon grew in strength, agility, and local fame, and by the time he was ten he could smack a stoat or beat a badger. At sixteen he "rassled" his first "ba'ar", and the rest was history, or would have been if history cared about near-feral teenagers who could take on large mammals.

Of course all this pugilism took its toll, and by the time I met him on a road trip up to the Northern Territories, Craig had lost an eye, a foot, and most of one thumb to his profession, but, as he will tell you, at least he still has most of his vertebrae. He deals Three Card Monte outside a truck stop outside of Gibbonsville and will fill your tank for you, or shine your bumper. You won't have to ask.

Fun Fact: Craig Marquis has a different toupee for every day of the week, each made from the pelt of a beast he's bested in mortal combat. For the final table, he's planning on wearing the crocodile skullcap.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Meet The Final Table 001: Dennis Phillips

OK, so as you probably know by now, The Milwaukee's Best Final Table to the Harrah's Entertainment Ultimate Bet World Series of Nextel DOW Chemical the Cast of Grey's Anatomy on ABC Chef Boyardee Poker has been set. So now we have it down to nine, who will play in November for the right to become the next President of the United States of America. Ha ha! I'm kidding! Had you going there, didn't I? No no no no, they are playing for money. I think $9 million moneys, which is more than the president is going to make in four years, and he has to deal with tours going through his house all day to boot, so screw that job.

The stakes are high and the odds are pretty much exactly the same as they ever were, except if you are chasing a flush draw. It's been an incredible series, with an incredible amount of money at place, an incredible amount of media and public interest, and, of course, Norman Chad is incredibly annoying.

What is more incredible is that I know each one of the finalists personally! I know, I know, it's crazy. What are the odds? I know that over the next few months, there's going to be thousands and thousands of articles and talk show appearences and covers of cereal boxes and wind up dolls and Dancing With the Stars and affairs with Madonna and surprise guest sightings at the World Spelling Bee Championship (winning word: chthonic) and the Westminster Dog Show. It will be a whirlwind. Bigger than the North Carolina Hollering Contest, I'd warrant.

But right now, none of you know anything about them, which is a perfect opportunity for to introduce you to them with the inside poop. I've contacted each of them, and they've agreed that they'd like me to present their true bios before the press gets hold of them. In case it isn't obvious, all of these profiles are totally, totally factual.

I will be posting one a day, until the whole story is told.


Name: Dennis Phillips

Age: 64

Occupation: Former Perfume Girl, Cowpuncher, Global Sportsman, Needlepoint Template Designer

Nickname: "El Tornador"

Poker Style: Triple aggressive with elbow grease; protects his blinds by blinding you with a nail-gun (as a result, WSOP director Jeffery Pollack has stated that pneumatic tools will be disallowed at the table for the 2009 WSOP).

Card Capper: Dennis uses a puma. A live puma.

Favorite Country Song: Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off, by Joe Nichols

Brief Bio: Born into extreme poverty in Po Biddy, Georgia, during World War II, Dennis Phillips lit out for the territories as soon as he could shave, and hitched West to seek his fortune. Upon discovering that there no longer were any territories, his disappointment was so great that he sold his banjo for a cruel sneer that he still keeps in a velvet lined box to this very day. He'll show it to you if you give him a fiver.

After a brief stint as a perfume girl behind the counter at Macy's department store in San Bernardino, ran cattle for a time before he made his fortune with a popular line of pornographic needlepoint templates. Dennis now travels the world with his pet shrimp, Oodles, playing all the world's sports and enjoying some of them. He's best known to his friends for an almost complete disregard for safety regulations, whether posted or implied.

Dennis Phillips first came to my attention when I was vacationing in Rio back in the winter of 1973 (the summer of cheese). He was staying in the same hotel as me, and had hired a speedboat for water-skiing. Dennis is a powerful wintertime skier, but he hadn't quite made the conversion to water as he insisted on wearing full cross-country gear. Nearly blinded a kid with his poles before it was done. I acted as his attorney in the legal action that proceeded, which happily ended with us both fleeing the country zipped into carry-on luggage.

Dennis owns a complete set of Alvin and the Chipmunks recordings, even the underground stuff. I think his interest stems from the fact that he actually sounds a lot like Theodore when he sings.

Fun Fact: Dennis once toppled the government of Antigua by accident. He was cricketing and, as he stepped to bat, sneezed with such a violent forward motion that he knocked the wicket-keeper into a coma. The guy turned out to be the prime minister. He was across the border enjoying pool drinks in Barbuda before he realized what he'd done. So he came back with plenty of rum, and soon all was forgotten.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Warm-Up Exercise 003: C

C is for Cabinet Nesters. These wee trinkets are secreted in cabinet drawers, beneath your last pair of stockings, in the right pocket of forgotten trousers, or in the lining of your second-favorite cap. They are as smooth as marble and as light as cotton; intricate alabaster statues of the true love that might once have been and now never will be. On the base is inscribed the reason for the loss. Cabinet nesters cause sweaty madness and brain decay among those unlucky enough to read that inscription. It is unknown whose hand crafts them.

Friday, July 11, 2008

We Represent

I think I speak for us all when I say that it would be wonderful if today was a great day for a little guy.


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Warm-Up Exercise 002: B

B is for Brick-Knuckle Steven, the sweet and deadly man-mangler who guards the entrance to the Cairn of Wearies. Brick-Knuckle Steven produces one piece of high wisdom each year, an event greatly anticipated by none, for none know of it. Infinitely loyal to Finnegan Peach, his feet move as ponderously as his thoughts. Happily, he has little need of feet. He swings his seven arms most artfully.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Warm-Up Exercise 001: A

Picasso sketched constantly, and so did Dali, and DaVinci, and if that's not true it should be. You have to keep the knife sharp, and whittling is as necessary toward that end as is chopping the mighty oak. I've found it helpful before sitting down to crank out thousands of words to make a little story of just a few words, hopefully self-contained and suggestive of a deeper world beyond.
A good warm up should leave you wanting more, which is obviously the same point with a novel, except that a warm up only takes a few minutes.

Harlan Ellison once made a creature glossary and I think Edward Gorey has done the same. The idea is a creature for each letter of the alphabet. So, I'm stealing the idea. They can have it back when I'm done with it, though I may leave the gas tank empty, and Gorey is dead.

Anyway, here's a warm-up. There are obviously 25 more of these, so if you like them, yay! more coming! If you don't, you might want to take this opportunity do a headstand in a bucket of piranha.

* * *

A is for Auntie Diluvian. Nobody in Elm’s Oak is older. She lives in the Gingerbread Hotel, and can be reached at the last minute. Ring the bell at the lobby, and the rubber-legged concierge will show you up. She holds the secrets you haven’t told yourself yet. Stay away from her unless you want to know the truth at a price higher than you are willing to pay. Auntie bakes strange spherical goodies coated in red chocolate that smell like yesterday and taste like youth. Eat one, and your best question will be answered. Eat two, and your fondest dream will come alive.

Don’t eat three.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Week 1

So far, I'm loving my break from the tables. Maybe that'll change, and I'll be watching envious in my civvies from the sideline when BBT4 eventually and inevitably rumbles through town, but for now? Gravy. Grindage is fine, but even a fertile field needs to lie fallow for a little while. And, if you've seen my game, you realize that my field wasn't all that fertile.

This week has been all about the gear-up. I'm perusing my first draft. I'm working on a plot synopsis. As a warm-up, I've written 2,000 words of a short story called "Running It Twice." It was going to be my BBT3 story until I realized there was no way I could be gone around now (and congrats to Tuscaloosa John for taking the prize). Now it's just my story, and who knows what I'll do with it. I like how it's come out so far, and I know where it's going. I'll finish it sometime soon, maybe tonight.

Donkavatar has kind of slowed, by which I mean it's totally dead. I'll give it some heavy plugging when the blogger tournaments get over their BBT hangover. But, if you want a custom avatar, and you are a donkey, go to Donkavatar!

I've updated the blogroll. If I comment on your blog or you comment on mine, or we've played a blogger tourny before, or if you just think I've forgotten you, hit me in the comments and I'll correct it forthwith.

More when there's more. Good luck to all our comrades in the Main Event!