Have I mentioned I enjoy playing poker? I continue playing online almost every night and my deposit of three years ago is still there.
For poker players, our ‘world series’ is the World Series of Poker. Conveniently named, isn’t it?
The WSOP is the biggest tournament in the world. Actually, it’s a series of tournaments, culminating in the ‘Main Event.’
Anyone can enter. All you need is a $10,000 ticket. This year, a $10,000 ticket turned into $12,000,000 for Jamie Gold of California.
I’ve never been to the World Series. C’mon – $10,000 is a lot of money and you’re playing against all the best (and some of the luckiest) players around.
My friend Rick played this year. He won his $10,000 entry playing in a satellite tournament. It cost him $1!
Though Rick had a great time, he came home with little more than memories and some tchotchkes for me. One of them is pictured on the left. It’s an autograph from Norman Chad.
OK – it’s on a piece of paper ripped out of a spiral notepad. Can’t it still be a cherished memento?
Chad is a newspaper columnist. He’s also written books and for TV, including a pretty funny episode of Arli$$. Mostly, I know him as the color commentator on the World Series broadcasts.
Rick has had the autograph for months. Tonight was finally time to pick it up.
I don’t have many friends I can visit at midnight besides Rick. He is a professional announcer and sets his own schedule. His business is primarily carried on from a studio in his basement.
If you’re in Connecticut, you’ve heard Rick say “99-1, WPLR” or voice commercials for Bob’s Stores (the clothing, not the furniture stores). If you’re elsewhere, you’ve heard him too, on commercials and promos too numerous count.
He has one of those voices that is just too darned deep. It is accented by gravely side tones which make it mellifluous and friendly.
My voice is so lacking in bass, a program director I worked for in Philadelphia considered using a ‘Harmonizer’ to electronically lower the pitch! I will be eternally envious of Rick’s pipes.
There was actually more waiting for me than the autograph (though that will be my most cherished piece of swag). Rick also gave me a deck of WSOP playing cards, a WSOP chip, PokerStars.net t-shirt, and the ‘souvenir’ room key from his Vegas hotel.
We were down in his studio talking when I noticed the full wall of record albums. These were real 33 1/3 rpm vinyl disks. They’re the kind that scratched, popped and hissed when you played them. Looking at the collection was like going back in time.
I started pulling albums off the wall and, on two vintage Technics turntables, Rick began playing cuts. There was early Hendrix and Janis Joplin. I read the technical notes on the cover of the Beach Boys seminal Holland LP. There were more obscure groups like The Buoys¹ and The Easybeats.
Some cuts, like Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream, I hadn’t heard in 40 years or so! I remembered conversations with friends in the 60s, trying to figure out why Dylan starting the song acoustically, stopped to laugh, and then began again, this time with electric guitar and electrified accompaniment.
Our musical tastes are very different. Rick has a more eclectic, more discerning ear for artistry. I gravitate to pop and ‘the hits.’ Still, there was a lot to share and, as former disk jockeys, stories to tell.
I got home around 3:00 AM, carrying my loot with me.
Forget my WSOP take. I can’t begin to tell you how much fun I had just schmoozing and listening to those old songs.
¹ – The Buoys hit “Timothy” is probably the best top-40 song about cannibalism ever!