Thank God that I have had the chance of witnessing the real thing. I mean the World Series of Poker at Binion’s Horseshoe. For three months leading up to it, I played fantasy cards in my head and won gold bracelets head up against top Americans, meanwhile scraping the money together to get a flight and accommodations. Can the World Series of Poker be the same anywhere else but at Binion’s Horseshoe? As soon as you arrive, the heat hits you, while you get your taxi downtown and check in to the hotel. Is it a real carpet or just a tarmac on the floor? My feet always stick to it anyway. Did Binion’s ever turn the lights on inside the casino? Not while I was there. Once settled, I would go straight to the bar to find the Irish team and find out who was winning, so as to get the best exchange rate for my pounds. Then, I’d be off for one of those famous cheeseburgers at the Horseshoe Snack Bar.
I remember the first time I ever got a seat to play in the World Series of Poker. You would have thought I’d already won it; all I did was walk around telling people, “I’ve won a seat! I’ve won a seat!”
Can it ever be the same at the Rio? With 2,500 runners last year and 5,000 expected this year, you will be the odd one out if you don’t play. Actually, the biggest poker tournament I’ve ever won was at the Rio, the first year that the Carnivale of Poker was held there. I was 40 years old and they say life begins at 40. Mine sure did. I was so emotional after winning that I was in tears while phoning home. People actually stopped to ask if they could help me, and I had to explain that they were tears of joy.
It looks like poker will bring the whole world to the Rio this year, and I feel sorry for those new players who have never played at Binion’s Horseshoe. I have a picture at home of Stu Ungar and Doyle Brunson when Stuey won his first WSOP title. Binion’s has been a shrine, but now it’s just another memory. Will the up-and-coming stars of tomorrow really understand the prestige of the WSOP? For years, everyone used to say that it was going to get bigger and bigger. And now the future is here. This year, the chances are that you are going to become a millionaire just for reaching the final table, some prospect for reaching a final. Poker has gone from cabbages to caviar, with numerous players getting sponsorship deals worth thousands of pounds. Gone are the days of four players sharing a room for $20 per night. Sometimes your life can change so quickly. We are all only one turn of a card away from being judi poker mogeqq millionaires.
What are the chances of winning the World Series of Poker twice? Not the same as when “The Grand Old Man” Johnny Moss did. I had the pleasure of meeting and playing against Johnny years ago when he sat next to me in the $1,500 no-limit hold’em tournament. I introduced myself as Mad Marty. “Why do they call you mad?” Johnny asked me.
“Because I shot someone for asking too many questions,” I replied. This made Johnny laugh, and we became good friends for the few years that I knew him.
The only thing missing from Binion’s is a chapel, as we’ve all heard about the difference between the card player who prays in a casino and the man who prays in church. The card player really means it. “Please let me win the next hand.”
Maybe next year we will be saying that the Rio is the best thing to happen to poker. Let’s hope they do keep the final table at the Horseshoe. It is the history of poker, and should not be forgotten.
Marty’s Holiday Camp
Are you ready to get the adrenalin flowing? Then listen to my new idea. What would happen if selected players considered poaching minifestivals from casinos and running them in holiday camps, with light entertainment for players’ wives and children? Consider a week in Butlins at Skegness. It would promise to be one of the most competitive, fascinating, daring, and entertaining tournaments ever. We could make poker a family occasion — bring the kids, your parents, and your next-door neighbors. Imagine having this conversation with your friends.
“Have you booked your holiday?”
“Yes. I’m going to Clackton for two weeks with The Devilfish, Marcel Luske, and Mad Marty Wilson.”
This could all be to come, so remember where you heard it first.
And don’t forget — there ain’t no party without Mad Marty!