Monday, January 29, 2007

Vera and a Dull Knife

Excerpt from "52 Greatest Moments, World Series of Poker" by Mark Rogers

In 1982 Vera Richmond became the first woman to win a bracelet in a mixed game. The event was the Ace-to-Five Draw and Vera collected $38,500. But it was back in 1973 that she received her notoriety in the poker world. After a boast that she was going to win the Main Event, Thomas ‘Amarillo Slim’ Preston proclaimed, “Vera, if you can win the WSOP, you can take a dull knife and cut my throat.”


When the WSOP first started in the 70’s the ratio of men to women was 200 to 1. From the old guard’s point of view, poker remained a man’s game. When asked if he ever played “a top notch female player”, Doyle Brunson responded, “Naw, I don’t believe there is such a thing.” The quotable Slim Preston went so far to say, “I’ve got an agreement with the ladies: if they agree not to play poker, I’ll agree not to have any babies.” To say that the poker world had its share of sexism might be an understatement. But the over confident and not to popular Vera was not held back.

Vera had a substantial bankroll- her family made a fortune in the cosmetic industry. Her money and big nature, as well as stature, made her notorious in the poker circle. She was also rough natured, maybe as a deterrent against the male dominated field or maybe just her personality. Either way she found herself with the chip lead mid way through the 1973 WSOP Main Event. A small feat that had potential of becoming a Series Circus- enter Thomas ‘Amarillo’ Slim Preston to the tent.


The Sombrero Room was the Horseshoe’s hangout, where champions and wannabes alike gathered to chat and dine well. During a break in the Main Event ‘Amarillo Slim’, as he was apt to do, became the center of attention in the Sombreo Room. The Associated Press listened to his every word, eating up the very quotable ‘Slim’. And let’s not forget, ‘Slim’ not only talked the talk but the 1972 Main Event defending champion had walked the walk.

Now, for a brief moment in Main Event history, Vera Richmond was walking strong, so why not doing a little talk. And what better time to do so than when the infamous ‘Slim’ was stealing the media show. On entering the Sombrero Room, Vera Richmond abruptly inquired, “Mr. Slim, what do you think about a lady getting a hold of that many chips?!” Slim offered a very politically correct; especially give the poker times, response, “I think it’s great.” This was not the tension driving retort the aggressive Vera was looking for. And so she continued to jab at Amarillo by boasting, “Well, it’s a certainty that I’m gonna win this World Series!” Start your typewriters, ‘Slim’s’ wit was about to be awakened. Being the reigning champion, that claim did not sit well with ‘Slim’. Then came the words that will forever be lost in WSOP history, “Vera if you can win the WSOP you can take a dull knife and cut my throat.” Why lost? Unfortunately (or not) for ‘Amarillo Slim’, he was in a room of reporters who each had their own agendas. And as the media is prone to do, the spoken word entered one ear and came out slightly different on paper. “If a woman ever wins the WSOP I’ll cut my throat.” ‘Slim’s’ quote was a knock on Vera, the skewed version was a knock on women. ‘Slim’ would repeat his version many an interview but the media’s twist is still too entertaining to ignore.

In retrospect, this misstatement has not been an entirely bad thing for ‘Amarillo Slim’ Preston.
As the years passed and woman like Barbara Enright came close to winning the Main Event Championship, the story is rehashed and Amarillo Slim is were he is comfortable- in the spotlight.

At the 2000 WSOP Main Event both Kathy Liebert and Annie Duke were in contention for the bracelet. To catch a few laughs, Slim Preston posed with a knife to his neck first behind Liebert then Duke. The two women would finish 17th and 10th respectively. So while the quote has been misconstrued it has provided some comic relief or contention at the Main Event.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Finally... a little redemption...

Ignoring the first of the Chicago Poker Club events, which happened to be earlier this evening, I was on a sickening slide in SnGs and tournies. If you read my two previous posts, you understand the root of my frustration. I have been playing super tight (for me, anyway) early in tournies, and I have been getting exceptionally unlucky.

Tonight's CPC Tourney was different, because only three of us made it, last season's top three finishers. There were only capable players present, so suck outs were diminished. Even so, I made my usual run of out-drawing Joe, and even managed to slip past Maria to win the first one. Ah... I digress.

I played in three tournies tonight. In the first, I played one hand, about 35 hands in. I got my money in with an over pair to my opponent pre-flop, and of course he hit a set on the river to eliminate me.

Next, I played in a 90 player tournament. I finished in 89th. About 12 hands in, I had not played a hand, and had folded both blinds prior. I found A-Q under the gun, and because the table had been surprisingly aggressive pre-flop, I decide to limp, and look for the opportunity to isolate to one player. It never comes, as the table witnesses a rare pre-flop limp around. I am not happy to see a flop with 5 players.

Alas, the flop comes A,Q,4 rainbow and I'm happy again. I make a bet about 80% of the pot, it folds to a late position player who calls for a good percentage of his stack. The turn is a second club, the 6 I think. I bet all my chips, which is close to all of my opponents chips, and less than the size of the pot by a little bit. I show my two pair, and he shows the 3 of clubs and the 5 of clubs. Well played! Of course he catches the 2 of hearts on the river and eliminates my in 89th place.

Over 4 tournaments I have now played 6 hands total and won none of them.

Before dozing off tonight, I decide to make one last stand. I enter an 18 player tourney and last one hand. I last two hands, then three. I can't believe it.

By the time we're down to 9 players, I'm second in chips. I'm playing well. Finding weakness and exploiting it. Making big hands and getting paid occasionally. Looking out not to commit myself to pots where a short stack can double up, but isolating short stachs with good Aces and Kings to eliminate.

We made it down to 6 players, and went forever without elimination. Then to 5. No one wants to bust on the bubble. Both short stacks are to my immediate left and I get NO cards. I dodge and dodge. Then, we're down to 4. In the money!? Say it ain't so.

Down to three. I take the lead. Head's up. I'm a 3 to 1 favorite. My opponent makes a full house, trips, and a straight over the course of five hands. I'm a 3 to 1 dog, and lucky to be alive.

The blinds increase. I fight back. We're even. I'm ahead. I'm a big favorite. I get my money in as a 3 to 2 dog and suck out. I win!!

I win?

Every dog has his day.