PCA 2014: Just a game for the regular Joes
Super High Roller poker players are unlike you and I in many, many ways--"many" multiplied by one hundred thousand, in fact.
However, every now and then you'll hear one of them speak, watch one of them eat, or stroll through a tournament room in so normal a fashion that you might think, "Hey, they're not so unusual after all."
Take Keith Lehr, for instance. Lehr arrived to the Imperial Ballroom today, put down his tournament ticket and took stock of his surroundings. He found Cary Katz, Vladimir Troyanovskiy and Joseph Cheong among his opponents, and then noticed a tower behind him on which eight television screens were hanged.
"I have a request," said Lehr to the tournament director. "Can we get the football on that?"
This was a matter of priorities. Here was just a regular guy wanting to see the game. It may have cost Lehr $100,000 to take a seat at the tables, but that didn't mean he had no interest in the football.
For the benefit of our European readers: it's the second day of the NFL's "wildcard weekend" today, meaning games between the San Diego Chargers and the Cincinnati Bengals and the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers. Lehr is wearing a T-shirt that makes plain his emotional support for the Minnesota Vikings, but today he has a "financial" stake in San Diego, he said.
"It's unlikely," the tournament director told Lehr, continuing that although the screens looked a lot like television screens, they actually weren't. They were on a different network to the screens in the cash area, for instance, where the football would indeed be on.
Zachary Hyman joined Lehr in campaigning for the football. The tournament director promised that he would "see what he could do". But at that point, Guy Laliberté, on a neighbouring table, joined the conversation.
According to Forbes, Laliberté is the 459th richest man in the world and, accordingly, is unlike you and I in an estimated 2.6 billion ways. Yet in common with any regular Joe, Laliberté also had an interest in the football: specifically, he didn't want it on.
"I've taped it to watch later," he said, sticking his fingers in his ears in mock despair.
This presented the tournament director with a problem. He had to find a way to get the Super High Rollers a screen showing the football, while at the same time not showing the football. "I'll see what I can do," he said.
Lehr may not be familiar to readers of PokerStars Blog, and I don't remember seeing him on either the EPT, LAPT or APPT. But we actually first wrote about him at the World Series of Poker back in 2007, when he put his eye on Humberto Brenes in a very literal sense.
In the late stages of the $5,000 Pot Limit Hold'em championship, Brenes moved all in and went through his familiar routine with his shark-shaped card protector. Lehr, also on the table, managed to re-raise Brenes in quite spectacular fashion. He popped out his glass eye.
"I put it on my chips and said, 'Eye all in'," Lehr remembered this afternoon. "It's on YouTube," he added.
Lehr hasn't repeated his eye-popping trick yet today. With a starting stack of 250,000, he is nowhere close to being all in. But the news is that he now has had his wish to have the game put on the tournament screen where it's currently [spoiler warning, Mr Laliberté] 27-10 to the Chargers.