The Lion Speaks Tonight

Wednesday, September 8th, 2004, 11:34 pm

Actually, he spoke Tuesday night. If you look at my blog list on the right (a little alliteration to allay your animosity and annoyance) you’ll see a link for Lion Tales, which is written by Richard Brodie, a gentleman living the dream of just about every blogger out there–he’s out there playing just about every World Poker Tour event, from Aruba to Paris. And if you watched last night’s World Series coverage and saw “The Nuts” segment, I believe you saw Richard, because he’s the dude at the end who says that he wrote the original version of Microsoft Word. Yes, every time you’ve hit “Print Preview” and then can’t get back to your document without all those weird symbols on the page and you start screaming “WHAT THE HELL IS GODDAM OUTLINE VIEW??!!”, in some way you’ve been screaming at Richard.

The fact that Richard was an old-school Microsoftie perhaps explains where the “Quiet Lion” got the coin to act like an jet-setting playboy, flitting hither and yon around the world looking for the biggest action in the world. It’s remarkable that Microsoft, considered by many the epitome of the totalitarian, fascistic, build-a-pyramid-of-human-skulls corporation, has so many former employees enjoying unusual, interesting, or quirky hobbies. Bill Gates spends much of his time and money helping immunize children in the developing world, about as noble a pursuit as one could hope for, yet still finds time for another popular pursuit, loafing with anti-trust lawyers. Steve Ballmer took over from Gates as CEO, giving him even more opportunity to engage in his favorite activity, screaming at underlings. Paul Allen owns NFL and NBA franchises and has built museums in homage to some of his teenage obsessions, Jimi Hendrix and science fiction. One wonders if soon there would be a groundbreaking in the Pacific Northwest for a museum dedicated to Penthouse magazine. Two Microsoft guys quit and, since they liked bowling, they bought the Professional Bowlers Association. They couldn’t get a lane at their local alley? And then we have Richard Brodie deciding to give poker a whirl by locking horns with the biggest and baddest tournament players on the planet.

If you’ve never read “Lion Tales” you will of course head there shortly and dig in. Richard has never made the final table at a WPT event, though I think he did crack the top ten in this year’s Reno event. But if you want an idea of what it’s like to play in one of these massive events without taking out a home equity loan, this is one way to do it. It’s not all glitz and glamour and Shana Hiatt in heels and a miniskirt (though Richard’s borderline stalking of the WPT co-host always proves entertaining). And you get all sorts of insider tidbits that don’t make it on the broadcasts. Like, Howard Lederer’s nickname (other than the Poker Professor) is “Bub”. Can you imagine calling Howard Lederer “Bub”? Me neither. Richard has also had a few run-ins with Phil Hellmuth, and when I wrote my screed about Phil I got a positive comment from the Lion. He knows first hand of which I spoke.

I think I actually enjoy reading about the resorts and restaurants he and his fellow players visit more than the poker. I think its because I’ve started getting into wine a bit, and I like reading about the especially piquant Cabernet Sauvignon he and his cronies selected to wash down that Kobe beef. In fact, while your typical poker blogger probably dreams about winning the World Series, I dream about appearing in Richard’s blog in an entry that would go something like this:

After getting busted out again by “Mean” Gene Bromberg he accompanied me and Andy “The Rock” Block to dinner at Squelch, a new Asian-Scandanvian bistro I’ve heard good things about. I ordered the gravlax

with miso while “Mean” Gene lectured us on the proper way to play Ace-Queen offsuit. The 1994 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon I selected arrived, but when the sommelier opened the bottle and was about to pour Gene snatched it out of his hand and went into a 30 minute tirade about how the Mondavi reds need time to breathe before they’re ready to drink. “Mean” Gene reduced the sommelier to tears, but during that profanity-laded half-hour the wine fully rounded into shape and was, we all agreed, superb. “Mean” Gene asked if perhaps he’d been too hard on the sommelier, that he usually prefers to reduce grown men to tears at the poker table. Andy and I laughed and told Gene that he’d acted perfectly correctly in our eyes.

OK, maybe it’s just me, but I think that’d be so cool.

I think it’s the wine references that get to me. I’ve started to get a bit more interested in wine, which is making me a bit nervous, as I don’t need another obsession to crowd my life. I mentioned in a previous post that I cashed out a good 3/4 of my poker fund and blew it on a trip my wife and I took with some friends up a wine festival in the Finger Lakes of New York. And the other day I cashed out the remaining $61 in my Pacific Poker account and it’s going back into the bank. My poker bankroll is, officially, at zero. I’ve decided to desist from playing until I actually get a real, full-time job. My temp gig ends at the end of October, and while I’m sure I can get another quicky job, I’m working with a career conselor to find a “real” job. So, that’s what I need to spend my time on. And I’m trying to lose a ton of weight. And do more writing. My figurative plate is full, even as my literal plate holds three ounces of chicken, a small boiled potato, and a cup of green beans.

So, if I’m not playing poker, is this the end of Mean Gene’s Poker Blog? Fear not, dear readers, I’ll still be posting, about poker and beyond. My own play is hardly worth writing about, but I’m sure I can still find grist for my poker mill. Like this post, for example. I definitely will play again sometime in the future, I’m not giving up the game permanently. It’s good to know that, when I want to or need to, I can step away from the table. It’s also good to know that I still want to play. But for now my poker fun will have to be the vicarious sort. Like reading about Richard Brodie’s adventures at Lion Tales. Read and enjoy, boys and girls. Maybe, if he gets a gaggle of new readers, he’ll consent to play in our next blogger tourament. Buy-in is, ah, five grand…

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11 Responses to “The Lion Speaks Tonight”

  1. Ryan Says:

    The last post I see from him is Aug. 2nd. Is that right?

  2. oy Says:

    Great post Geno. Congrats on the fresh perspective and sincerity on life/career. And invite me over when you crack that Russian Valley Red.

  3. Maudie Says:

    Enjoyed the post – I’m also a fan of ‘Lion Tales’ and living vicariouly through Mr. Brodie’s adventures. Good luck with the job search (I happen to be an employment counselor, btw…) and the diet! 8^)

  4. Richard Says:

    I’m famous! I was mentioned in Mean Gene!

    You’re not really going to stop writing, are you? That would be tragic.

    Thanks for the kind words. My next event is Borgata.


  5. BG Says:

    94 Mondavi Reserve? Yawn. Go make friends with the good people at a small but stocked wine shop, and gravitate your ass to the Italian reds. They’re my favorites, by a mile. Barolos, when great (always good, sometimes great), are exceptional. Brunellos are monsters and just freaking delicious. Barbera d’Asti wines are perfect right out of the bottle $10 specials.

    If you are sticking with Cali, one of these days see if you can hunt down a late 90s Carmenet Moon Mountain Cab. Oy vey, are those good. I forget which ones are the best, 97 I think. But that was the first wine I really fell in love with.

    Can I come to dinner with you and Richard sometime?

  6. NemoD Says:

    i too exclaimed “oh my god its the quiet lion!” while watching the wsop.

    keep up the great posts. i hope you find a job that’s well paying and enjoyable.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    I just wanted to note how much I appreciate this blog. This is a sparkling gem of linguistic beauty in the barren wastlands that is conventional poker writing; keep up the good work!


  8. Sean Says:

    Love the post, Geno! Truly a classic. I love Lion Tales as well (he’s linked up from me too). I loved the line about calling Howard Lederer “Bub”. I didn’t think anyone actually did this to his face, but if you watch one of the WSOP episodes from ESPN this year, Howard and Doyle are sitting at the “featured” table and Doyle calls him “Bub” a few times. Funniest thing I saw at the WSOP.

  9. Ignatious Says:

    lmao. this is why mean gene is operating on a different level than the rest of us.

    awesome post.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    that reminds me… i need a haircut. brilliance.


  11. Anonymous Says:

    a dream post involving the quiet lion and food simply isn’t complete without, “as a rule i don’t eat dessert, but……”

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