Top Ten Non-Poker Related Moments in My Life

Before I get into my top ten list, I want to remind you guys to all tune into the PokerStars Million Dollar Challenge again this week on FOX right after the first NFL football game. Also, you can see some behind the scenes stuff if you checkout
10. FCP Protege Show. Back when was an online poker site, we did a show that aired on FSN where I crowned my first protege. I was heavily involved in the concept for the show and had a lot of responsibilities in terms of making it happen. When we finished the show, I felt such an amazing sense of accomplishment and was very proud of myself. If you saw the show, you’d remember the “Jerry incident” which I thought came off very well. We combined a poker show with a little bit of my other passion, reality tv with hidden cams and all. It was so much fun! 9. Three Eagle Putts against Team Antonius. This one happened recently. After losing on day one with a 59 to their teams 58, on day two I drained 3 long eagle putts for an astounding round of 56. One of those putts actually came from the rough, had to go up to the green and then broke about 6 feet downhill. I crushed the putt, but was lucky to have it hit the flag stick and drop right in. 8. APPT and PCA commentary. I do a lot of commentary, in fact, I’m in London right now doing commentary for the European Poker Tour, but nothing was more difficult for me than doing the 14 shows in 9 days that I did for the PCA and the APPT. Grueling, long days working in a small room with first, A.J. Benza for the PCA and then a whole week with Paul Koury doing the entire APPT season. Also there was the 441 crew who does the World Series of Poker broadcasts for ESPN. Everyday after voicing the shows I’d head home, watch the next days shows, make my notes, and much like groundhog day, I’d do it all again the next day. When we finished that, I just felt very proud of the hard work we all put into making those shows the best we could. What a brutal schedule that was. 7. Beating my dad at Cintar for the first time. My dad passed away in 1996, but I have nothing but fond memories about him. Coolest dad in the world, and all my friends agreed. We used to sit in the backyard by the pool, he’d have Dean Martin playing on the radio while drinking a glass of homemade wine in the summers. He taught me a game called Cintar, which is like 9 Men’s Morris I guess. There is no luck in the game, it’s all strategy. I could never beat him. I could beat my brother, but never him. One day when I was probably 12 years old I finally beat him and it felt like I conquered the world! I had a very different style than he did, and for years after that we’d play and eventually I got to the point where I could usually beat him. 6. 2nd Place in the Fall Classic at the Palace Club. The Palace Club Billiards is where I misspent most of my youth. Snooker was my passion well before I got into poker and I played the snooker tournament there every week. Once a year we had a big, double knockout tournament called the Fall Classic, and that day I ripped through the field winning all my matches until the final. I had to wait about 6 hours to see who came out of the losers bracket, and finally faced off against Paul Chan, a guy I had already beat that day 3-0. He’d have to beat me twice to win it. In the first set, he smoked me 3-0! I was iced by the long wait. It looked like it would all be over after he took a 2-0 lead in the second set, but I stormed back tying it at 2-2. Chan ran the table on me in the 5th and deciding game, but the $500 second place prize was by biggest cash to date. I was still so very happy that night. 5. PokerStars Million Dollar Challenge. If you’ve seen the show, you’d see just how much money, time, and effort go in to making it a success. There had never been a successful poker show with this model, so the cards were stacked against us. In the end, though, I feel like we hit a home run. Casual viewers are loving the show and the ratings are through the roof! The highest rated poker show EVER! I’m extremely proud of the show, and it just feels so good to put in the hard work and have it pay off. 4. Writing a Play in the 3rd Grade. Our 3rd grade teacher gave us an assignment, and that was to write a play based on some Greek Mythology with the main character being a guy named “Ice Ribs.” Earlier that year, I wrote a short story called, “The Lost Army” which was essentially a rip off of some Rambo stuff. I loved Stallone in Rambo and had seen First Blood like a million times. That story had a Rambo like character going back to singlehandedly rescue soldiers that were all presumed dead. He found the soldiers, killed lots of people in the meantime, and eventually brought them all home on a stolen chopper. LOL.
Anyway, everyone in the class was asked to write the play and I decided to write it like a screen play with a narrator and dialogue for all the characters. We handed them in, then in front of the whole class, Mrs. Weaver chose mine. We ended up acting out the play in front of the whole school and I was given the title of “Writer, Director, and Narrator.” I always felt like I had a creative mind when it came to film and stuff, so this was just so fun for me and it made me feel like I might actually be good at it. 3. Little Shop of Horrors. When I went to Vanier High School, after bouncing around from A.Y. Jackson to A.I.S.P. (Alternative Independent Study Program), the drama teacher asked me to play the lead role in the high school play, Little Shop of Horrors. I told her, no, since it was a musical and I can’t really sing. She assured me that the lead role doesn’t have to be a good singer, since he was a nerd by the name of Seymour (played by Rick Moranis in the movie). I ended up loving the process and despite the fact that our rehearsals could not have gone worse, and many doubting whether or not I’d be ready, when the curtain dropped, we had our best performance yet. Too bad I can’t find the tape, I’m sure it would be good for a laugh or two. At the time, I was on such an adrenaline high. 2. NBC Talent Hunt as a kid. When I was a kid, I think 12 years old, I was a very confident little boy and was certain that I’d grow up to be an actor. Well, NBC came to town and my mother took me down there to try out for “The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking” to audition for the role of Tommy and also to try and impress the studio heads. The local news was there, and I did an interview with them. I wish I had the footage. I was so cocky! I said the following before my audition, “I have no doubt that I will be a huge star. No doubt whatsoever.” Almost 3000 kids auditioned and I was one of the first asked to perform. I was asked to pretend like I was walking a tight rope behind Pippi in an attempt to save her. You had to do this in front of all the other kids. When I finished, the director stopped the auditions and said, “Kids, that is exactly how it’s done.” A very proud moment for me as a kid, very good for the self esteem to say the least.
In the end, only 6 kids got called back for a second audition and I was one of them. The movie never ended up happening, and it was at that age that my pool playing days were starting so I kind of abandoned that dream and that eventually led me down a very different path that landed me at the poker tables. And the most memorable non-poker related moment of my life: 1. Scoring the game winning goals in the semi-finals and finals on my soccer team in the playoffs. I loved soccer as a kid and got into organized leagues where I wasn’t one of the best players on my team. I’m left handed, but kick with my right foot, yet still preferred playing left wing. I wasn’t much of a goal scorer, there wasn’t a lot of power behind my kids, but I was sneaky quick, and was a pretty good passer. I’d often beat the defender down the left side, quickly trap the ball, then send in a cross with my right foot to the front of the net. All season that year I had a total of 5 goals in 12 games. In our semi-final game, with the score tied 2-2 the ball somehow got through the defense on a corner kick and essentially just kind of “hit my foot” and I beat the goaltender on the left side of the net, scoring the goal with the side of my foot.
In the finals, it was late in the second half, my whole family there to watch me play, and our defense sent a kick high, and long. As mentioned, I was pretty quick, and while I couldn’t catch up with the ball, the goalie left his net trying to grab the ball, but out of the air, I got my right leg on it and was able to kick it over his head and it just barely trickled in the top left corner. We won the game 1-0 and my teammates picked me up and we cheered, and laughed and had the best day ever! Crazy thing is, when I dream of that moment, in my dreams… the ball never goes in the net. Instead, it hits the crossbar and I don’t score. I could never figure out why that is… I’ve had lots of interests in my life and took great joy in playing soccer, acting, hanging with family, and of course, writing. I don’t think I’m all that much different today than I was when I was little. A little older and wiser sure, but still a kid at heart. Golf has replaced snooker as a passion, and poker is now obviously a big part of my life where Cintar is not, but not much else has changed. ]]>