View Full Version : The WSOP Dream (Fiction - long)

05-14-2004, 09:31 AM
I hacked this little essay out a few weeks ago and sent it to "Poker Pages." Got no reply, and so I'm posting it here.

Hope you enjoy it...

Allegedly, it's "every poker player's dream" to win the WSOP. Sadly, for 9.99999% of us, it will remain a dream, but this one is mine...

I only sustain two cracked-ribs from T.J. Cloutier's bear-hug as he gallantly congratulates me on winning the 2004 World Series of Poker. On the table beside us lie the final hands of the five day endurance contest comprised like all the best sports, of skill, courage, and a dash of luck.

My trip 2's, the final 2 coming (naturally) on the river beat T.J.'s Ace, Ace, proving once again that the WSOP has produced a worthy champion. Yup, I'm the best poker player in the world, no matter that until five days ago I struggled to beat $2-$4 games on-line.

The security guards escort me and T.J. up to a small stage where the cream of the world's 5th rate sports and lifestyle journalists await our words of wisdom. Strict WSOP etiquette is observed, which means I have to hurriedly invent a lovely wife and four adorable children. I'll be spending the money, I assure everyone, on my children's education, a second home for my beloved family, a new car, and a holiday somewhere warm and sunny. The lies sound good, although what I'm really after are two of the best hookers Las Vegas can offer and a ton of finest recreational drugs known to humanity. Yup, good ole poker, makes expert liars of us all. Never mind, with three million bucks in my pocket and some T.V... no, wait! RADIO exposure, maybe a wife will appear...

Thankfully for all of us, the press conference is cut short by a commotion at the back of the room. A large dentist's chair is wheeled in along with a small surgical team and associated medical equipment on trolleys. What's happening here? Someone hurriedly explains to me that Mr. Philip Helmuth Junior, eliminated early on Day Two by someone calling his raise with Queen Jack, has been commenting on T.V. since then. At some point he saw me taking down a huge pot with 7, 2 off-suit (played from the blind, the flop came 7 2 2). Outraged by my play, Phil swore he'd cut off his own nose if I won the tournament. Now the T.V. station are holding him to his word, and the surgeon is going to give Phil a local anesthetic, hand him a scapel, and help him out while a nurse holds a shaving mirror. The press and public love it and stampede to the scene trailing cameras and notebooks. Sighing, I realise that the 2004 WSOP won't be remembered as "my" tournament, the first Brit to ever to win the event. Oh no. People will simply remember Phil Helmuth, a man of his word, cutting his own nose off. Oh well, Phil is the greatest poker player of all time, I remind myself. And he loves his family.

T.J disappears to be consoled by his friends and fans, while above us the Poker Gods are changing their underwear yet another time. Will they ever tire of that old joke? I move off myself, stunned, happy, confused, and suddenly surrounded by life-long friends, many of whom, unaccountably I've never met before in my life, many of whom unaccountably, claim I owe them money, many of whom unaccountably, want me to stake them in the no-limit ring games which have been going on all month. The situation is saved by the majestic entrance of Linda Johnson, former editor and owner of CardPlayer magazine, who wants to interview me. Swotting my new life-long friends aside like so many irritating flies, she escorts me to a secluded booth in the Coffee Shop. The reality of my fame and achievement is sinking in - nobody in the diner cares a toss about us, they must all be blackjack and slot-machine players.

Safe and snug over a cup of black coffee laced with cheap champagne, Linda submits me to her usual gruelling and penetrating interrogation:

"So roG, I'm sorry to press you on this point, but are you really sure blue is your favourite colour?"

It turns out to be a good preparation for the rest of the media in the week that follows. Within three interviews I've given up trying to explain what poker is, and simply tell them I bluffed a lot. They like that - poker is all about bluffing. As a Brit, I'm happy to agree with Lou Krieger when he asks me to confirm that poker is the living embodiment of the good 'ole All-'Merican way. Within five interviews I've given up explaining how I qualified for the event - an obscure internet poker site offered a free entry to any player who's credit card number matched the number on the screen and who had made three $100+ deposits in the last 30 days (terms and conditions apply). Logging onto the 2+2 website, I discover that David Sklansky has pointed out that I made a serious error in a play late on the 4th day. I raised my opponent $150,000, when in fact, according to the size of the pot and the heads up situation, I should have raised by $147,750. Thus enabling me to play on with an extra $2,250 had the pot been lost. About 300 posters point out my winning hand was a 22-1 long-shot at the end, and T.J. played his hand perfectly. On RGP, a massive and somewhat incoherent post proves the entire event was a fix and that I work for an Arab/United Nations terrorist group attempting to sabotage American troop morale in the Middle East by ensuring a foreigner wins the worlds most prestigious sporting event.

The fuss dies down, my 15 minutes of fame is basically over, and I head to McCarron, new Rolex on my wrist, new Armani suit on my body, and a huge padlocked box containing the best part of three million bucks. I'm wondering why they couldn't have given me a cheque, but this is a dream, remember? All proceeds smoothly until arrival in Britain. I head through the green channel, nothing to declare, just another working stiff returning after a couple of weeks in Las Vegas. The customs officer beckons me to one side, and asks what's in the padlocked trunk.
"About three million dollars in cash," I tell him.
"May I remind you sir, that it is an offense to make a false statement to a customs officer!"
"You won't believe me, officer, but it's true. I just won the World Series of Poker, the most prestigious poker tournament in the world."
"Now don't lie to me, Sir. That was on telly last week. The bloke who won it cut off his own nose."
"No officer, that was Philip Helmuth Junior. He last won it years ago and..."
"Now that's quite enough of that, 'Sir.' He's the best poker player who ever lived, and besides, he loves his family."

Things get worse, not better, when they open the trunk and see the cash. Within a few heartbeats I've been arrested, strip searched, and find myself in a small airless cell, although larger and better lit than a standard room at the Mirage. Things improve a bit when the next-door cell is occupied (once again) by Miss Diana Ross, who's (once again) assulted one of the airport security staff for having the impudence to do their job. After a couple of hours she stops screaming and threatening to sue over a broken fingernail and we get a chance to chat. I'm a mistreated misunderstood fellow celebrity too, I tell her, and I've always loved her work, particulary the early melodic stuff with the Supremes. That seems to set her off again for an hour or two, but once she's calmed down and I've acknowledged the brilliance, nay genious of her solo career, she's happy to chat. I'm a millionaire too, I tell her.
"Oh yeah, how much are you worth?"
"Three million"
"[censored], honey, I earn that in a bad month."

Things eventually get sorted out, and we both get released at the same time. "That a false nose?" demands Dianna when we finally see one another. For some reason she refuses to talk to me anymore when I tell her it's real. "Liar! You ain't won nut'in" she hisses as we part perhaps, despite my new poker superstar status, for the last time. I leave the airport with an apology and a surveillence team. Back home the house is cold and damp, there are three messages on the answer machine. One is from my mother, congratulating me on my success. The second is from the local tax office requesting an urgent interview. The last is from the local newspaper (circulation 50,000) requesting an interview with me and the family and could I agree to bring some "before" and pictures of my face?

Live the dream...

- roGER