Toronto to London

Evelyn and I landed in Toronto at 9:00pm EST and went our separate ways. She got a ride from an old friend Talya and my brother was there to pick me up and take him back to his place. When I got there his wife Ornella started with the old, “Are you hungry? Are you thirsty? What can I make you,” routine. “That’s ok Ornella, I’m really not hungry,” I replied. Then she took a page out of my mother’s book by asking, “Ok, I’ll make you some stir fry? How about some orange juice? Do you want a water? How about some almonds? You want a salad? How about a bagel? You want peanut butter and jelly? How about a beer.” If you ever saw the movie by Big Fat Greek Wedding you’d have a glimpse into what it is like to be raised in a European household. There was a funny line in that move that might as well have been my mother saying it, “You want something to eat?” The mother asks the husband to be. “Oh, no thank you, I’m not hungry thanks.” “OK, I make you something.” If you haven’t seen the movie, go get it… right now. C’mon, go already! Anyway, I truly appreciate the hospitality. As annoying as it may seem to those that don’t understand the culture, it’s generally the way people show love. There is love in the food. Whether it’s my mother or Ornella, you can feel it, taste it, and appreciate it. *************************************************************** The next morning I headed down to the Elephant & Castle to help get things kick started for the Red Hot Poker Tour’s Tournament of Champions. There were 140 entrants from anywhere from Toronto, Hamilton, or even Ottawa. The Red Hot Poker Tour has been spreading pretty quickly and they are picking up steam. After we kicked things off I did a quick interview and then headed back to my brother’s house to sleep before the evening’s final table. I recognized only one face at the final table: Jimmy Herrera. I think the last time I was in town Jimmy attended a party that the Red Hot Poker was throwing for some of it’s valued customers. Jimmy works in Toronto as a Security guard but was born and raised in El Salvador. Not long after the party, Jimmy’s wife had a baby! Anyway, he seemed like a genuinely nice guy. Soft spoken, kinda like a teddy bear. I didn’t want to be impartial when watching the final table, but I couldn’t help but root for Jimmy a little bit. Let me tell you, this final table was insane! I am now thoroughly convinced that live poker is rigged. I’ve never seen so many action flops and brutal beats in my life. On one hand, Jimmy was all in with QQ vs. 99. The flop came 10-5-2. The turn was a 9! Jimmy used his patented ploy and stood up to put on his jacket. He’d done that all night and it worked every time. Bingo, Queen ball! There were tons of other sick hands like that, that I won’t bore you with. Jimmy finally got heads up with a young player from Ottawa named James. James was probably the only player at that final table that didn’t make a crucial error. I watched the entire final table and these two were the most deserving of being heads up. On the final hand, James got tricky and limped in from the button with As Ac. Jimmy checked his option and the flop came Qd 9d 5d. Jimmy checked, and James, worried about the flush draw moved all in. Jimmy quickly called and turned up pocket fives for a set. A diamond came on the turn, but a blank hit the river and Jimmy won the Tournament of Champions along with seat #10 in the Daniel Negreanu Prot

 
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