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Daniel - Poker Journal

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Toronto Trip Report

13 Nov 2004

So I'm on a flight from Boston to Toronto. The stewardess handed out the customs card to fill out and I asked her if she had a pen. She told me she could go back and get me one.

The flight was less than half full but there was a Canadian black man in front of me, "Here you go, you can use mine" he said. "Thank you."

As I was finishing my form two Greek ladies asked me to help them with their forms. They were Canadian citizens but still had some trouble reading English apparently.

So I filled out their forms and they were very appreciative. I love Canada... I just love it. That moment was so powerful to me, it's really difficult to explain.


When I got off the plane my schedule for the rest of the day was extremely time sensitive. My brother picked me up at the airport and we went straight to my sister-in-law Ornella's hair salon for a quick trim.

When my hair gets long it looks really stringy and unhealthy, and that's not the image I was looking to portray obviously. So Ornella gives me a quick snip and it was off to the Sutton Place hotel in downtown Toronto.

I had time for a quick shower and then it was off to the CTV headquarters to do a little segment for a show called E-Talk daily. It's basically in the Entertainment Tonight mold Canadian style.

That segment was a good 15 minutes, and our next stop was over to the Fan 590 sports radio where I did a show about a month prior. This hour would be different though as the last time we spent the hour talking sports and poker. This hour was all about the poker. I fielded questions from all over Canada and the broadcast also went out live on television across the country.

It was awesome having my brother there with me throughout, he was acting as my chauffeur/body guard, a role he is very well suited to at 6' 3" 200 lbs! I know, so then what happened to me right?

After that show was done, I had a meeting with the producers of the new drama series Tilt that is set to air in January on ESPN. The set was in kind of a dingy warehouse. After walking through two doors and entering the set my jaw dropped. Oh my goodness, they build a Vegas casino in the middle of nowhere. It was as authentic as it could have been- that's what $1.5 million will do for you. Wow, just amazing.

When I got there they were in the middle of a scene where the "Matador" played by Michael Madsen was shooting a scene where he was entering the casino. I sat back with the producers Brian Koppelman and David Levine, the same guys who created Rounders.

Michael Madsen, while not a poker player himself is perfect for the role. His raspy voice and wise guy demeanor suits the character perfectly. After Michael was done working I had an opportunity to meet him and shoot the breeze for a little while.

The next scene, the producers had me shooting craps! Yeah, that's me all right, lol.

When we were done there I head back to the hotel and l fell asleep to the sound of the Raptors beating out the Utah Jazz.


The next "morning" I was up at the crack of dawn 11:43am. For normal people dawn represents 6:00am but for a poker player that line is drawn at noon. If you are up before noon, that's morning.

At noon I had an interview scheduled with the Bayview Post, a local newspaper. At 12:30pm I had another interview set up, and finally yet one more at 1:00pm. In between my 12:30 and 1:00 o' clock interviews I had a meeting with a producer from the "Score" a sports network in Canada. We discussed a possible idea for the two of us to work together on a project.

In the hallway I ran into someone I recognized. It was Q, one of the members of a Canadian R & B group called In Essence. What a small world? I'd met Q the last time I appeared on Off the Record on TSN.

So when I get back to my room I get a call from Michael Landsberg the host of Off the Record, "Daniel how come you didn't tell me you were in town?"
"Oh I planned on it but I didn't have your number handy."
"Well listen, we would love to have you on the show today, can you make it out here?"
"Like right now."
"Yikes" At this point I hadn't even had time to jump in the shower and it didn't sound like I would have time. "Ok, let me catch a cab and I'll be right there."

I threw on a sweat suit and my Poker Mountain hat and head over to the set. Meeting me there were Hal Johnson from Body Break, Troy Westwood the punter for the Winnipeg BlueBombers, and Cory Cross, defense man for the Edmonton Oliers.

We covered a wide range of topics from coaches getting fired, to the Raptors, the NHL lockout, and Maria Sharapova. It was a really fun show as all of the guests were very knowledgeable and well spoken.

After the show was over, Michael Landsberg and I had lunch to discuss a few potential projects that we may work together on. It was a good lunch and I'm really excited about Michael's ideas for future projects in Canada.

After my lunch meeting it was time to get back to the hotel, shower and head to the Tilt set to shoot my cameo appearance along with TJ Cloutier. We were scheduled to be there at 5:00pm. Our scene didn't get underway until about 9:00pm and took over two hours to shoot.

The scene has TJ and I quitting a game and walking by the Matador (Michael Madsen's) table. The Matador asks us to sit in on his crooked game, and both TJ and I decline. My big starring role, LOL.

I had plans to catch up with some old friends from high school, and I'd told them that I'd likely be able to meet them around 9:00pm. Oops, I know better than that. Hollywood is all about "Hurry Up and Wait".

I got to my old friends house around midnight and it was surreal. I hadn't seen these people in over 10 years and they didn't look any different. Shawna was now a successful criminal lawyer, and my friend John Lee just got his PhD in political science that day. Cause for celebration, something my old friends still knew how to do!

We looked at some old pictures and reminisced about old times. When I was a young teenager, John and I used to hang out like everyday in the summer. I realized that every good friend I've had since John fit a very familiar mold. Allen Cunningham and John Lee are like the same guy! Very bizarre.

Anyway, I was fascinated with John's political knowledge and his thirst for numbers. He brought his laptop and showed me what he'd been working on: John created a spreadsheet to chart player tendencies in a hold'em game! I was like, but you've never even played???


John's father was a preacher in the United Church of Canada. Sadly, John's father died in a plane crash some years ago. We talked a little bit about that and about some of his families philosophies.

In the last couple years I've been more involved with reading the Bible and forming opinions on the way certain things should be taken. My fiance and her family are more conservative than I am and it was refreshing to talk to John about the subject because his father was more of a liberal preacher.

It made me feel better about my thoughts regarding the Bible and what's been written. I feel like I have a very strong faith but there are certain aspects of the way some Christians perceive what was written that I struggle with.

John also worked on the Kerry campaign. Being a Canadian I couldn't vote in the election but if I had an opportunity I would have supported Kerry as well.

I genuinely feel that George W. Bush used both abortion rights and gay marriage to win the Christian vote. Both are state issues as Kerry pointed out, but I believe that many people who were personally convicted by both of those issues voted for Bush based on only those two issues. Ignoring the fact that Bush's plan is less Christian in many other ways, i.e. tax cuts for the rich, going to war without just cause, medicare, etc.

I'm pro-life and I'm for civil union but not gay marriage. To me though, those issues pale in importance to other issues that I personally felt were important.

What in the world happened to my journal? What happened to stories of X-BOX and slackin' off? Oh boy, I think I'm getting a little too political here, time to cut this section short!


So John and I talked till 8am. The limo was picking us up at 10am to take us to the airport. My wake up call went off, my cell phone kept ringing, but I didn't move. Finally a bellman came to my door to wake me up and I was like,"Huh, I'm sleeping."

I finally woke up around 2:30pm and checked for the earliest flight. I found only one at 4:10pm that would get me back to Foxwoods for a 7:30pm meeting.

I made that flight to Boston, but the rain and traffic turned a 1.5 hour drive into a 2.5 hour drive. I was an hour late but called ahead to let them know. I wish I could tell you who "they" were but at this point it has to stay hush-hush. You will all know in time.

The meeting with "them" went extremely well and I'm stoked about the future. Oh man I wish I could tell you all, lol. Those darn non-disclosure agreements sad


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