Steve-Bob MacNamora sits in his La-Z-Boy recliner and smokes on in a string of filterless hand-rolled cigarettes. The smoke curls around him like a death shroud, but it isn't the only pall surrounding the 36 year-old Kentucky welder these days.
"Phil Ivey stole my seat," MacNamora seethes, refering to the well-known poker pro who just made the final table of the 2009 World Series of Poker's (WSOP) Main Event this year. "I been waiting and saving over a decade, and now my seat, it's been stolen. Just stolen. And you just know he used skill to do it. It makes me sick."
MacNamora was sure he was destined to join such poker luminaries as Jerry Yang (07), Jamie Gold (06) and Robert Varkonyi (02) as World Champions of poker, but he was unceremoniously bounced from this year's tournament in the first day of play. "I had a King and a Jack and I couldn't beat two nines," he explains, disgust ranging on his ruddy face. "You know, if it weren't for bad luck I wouldn't have any."
But now MacNamora claims that there is more at play than simple bad luck. According to him, the final table place that is rightfully his has been taken from him by a player he accuses of using skill, or "mad game" in order to gain an unfair advantage. "Every year nine complete imbeciles make a million bucks on that there tournament," says MacNamora. "And I am a total imbecile."
"He is," agrees Betty, his wife of 10 years. "That should have been my brain-dead dummy up there."
"You could say that Steve-Bob is the Phil Ivey of idiots," says Preston Reedsammy, the attorney whom MacNamora has retained in his suit against Ivey and Harrah's Entertainment, as well as (for reasons that are unclear at this time) the comedian Carrot Top. "He really is completely clueless. And here you have this guy who knows the game inside and out, who has great instincts and intuition, whose focus in unparalleled. It's just sad to see somebody like that succeed in poker's marquis event. When you look at the evidence, it really seems unavoidable that this individual was using skill. And not just once, but throughout the tournament. Something has gone badly wrong, and we're merely asking Ivey and Harrah's to make it right."
For now, however, there are no answers. There are only dreams deferred and hopes shattered.
"I just don't get it," fumes MacNamora. "When I'm at the table I honestly still refer to that Hoyle card that tells me what beats what. When I see a seasoned pro like Ivey, who is clearly using skill to take what is rightfully mine? I just get mad. Real mad." MacNamora pauses and eats a few more truck-stop 'energy' vitamins. "I mean . .. pot odds? Implied odds? What does that even mean?"
Phil Ivey, busy making a hedge-maze out of stacks of hundred dollar bills, was unavailable for comment.