As a mark of respect to my liver and my cardiologist, I’ve given this year’s WSOP final table a big swerve but I’m sure the Irish will be fine without me. Bail bondsmen are two a penny in Vegas but they might be a bit stretched over the weekend. I did travel over a couple of years ago when my buddy Jeff Shulman was at the final table and I can promise you that unless you’re there for the party its a pretty disappointing affair. The venue certainly isn’t designed for watching poker and unless you get a ringside seat you might as well be at Old Trafford trying to see whats going on at Wembley. They gave me the worst seat in the house though on the plus side it was the seat closest to the bar and after 20 minutes I took the hint and that’s where I finished up for the rest of the day.
It proved to be a great move. There were TV screens everywhere and over the next few hours the company included Vegas legends Scof, Mike Laing, Doyle and Daniel. The craic was great and I was in a position to learn plenty but I don’t remember whether I did or not! I took a break at one stage to attend the Hall Of Fame dinner (Mike Sexton was inducted) which was a bit like leaving a good Irish funeral to go to a free bar. Despite the Rio’s best efforts, it was a great day out with great stories being topped by better ones. Many of them came from Mike Laing who can be great fun on a good day.
Many younger players may have no idea who Mike Laing is which is a shame really because he’s a great character. He was the inventer and biggest fan of the Jack Daniels breakfast the beauty of which is the simplicity of the menu. Opinions are divided over whether JD should sponsor him or sue him or both. I’m in the both camps!
There’s lots of Mike Laing stories around. One of my favourites is one Mike Sexton tells that goes back to the old days in Binions. Mike and his then girlfriend were waiting for their car in the valet area at about 1am one night. Also present were Mr and Mrs Laing and a muscle-bound gentleman, his wife and 2 years old kid. Hanging about waiting for cars can be pretty boring stuff so the Laing family decided to pass the time by getting involved in a minor domestic argument which consisted of Mrs L hitting Mr L as often as possible whilst employing language that would have a sailor or an Irish poker player raise an eyebrow or two. The percentage play in this situation is to keep your mouth shut and hope your car arrives sooner rather than later but Mrs Muscles was not a percentage player and voiced the opinion that the language being used was inappropriate considering a small child was present. Mrs L temporarily stopped hitting Mr L and turned her attention to Mrs Muscles. She pointed out, quite correctly in my opinion, that if Mrs M wanted a nomination for Mother Of The Year she shouldn’t have her kid in a casino at 1am so she perhaps should mind her own business. At this stage Mr M decided the rules of chivalry dictated that he should intervene so it looked like it was all going to go off. Mr L turned to his wife and said : “Now look what you’ve done. I’m going to have to whip Charles Atlass ass!” Unfortunately everyone’s car then arrived at once and that was that so we will never know though I’d have had a few quid on Mike if I got the chance.
Congratulations to Eoghan O’Dea who’s probably won the WSOP by the time I get around to putting this up and to Barry Greenstein who’s definitely in the Hall Of Fame.