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'The Wonder of It All'

by Oklahoma Johnny Hale |  Published: Jan 04, 2002


My wife, Carol, did not want to fly back East for "The Seniors" IX World Championship of Poker, which was held recently at "The Wonder of It All," the signature advertisement line of Foxwoods Resort Casino in Ledyard, Connecticut. Carol was not happy about flying because of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, so we decided to drive from Las Vegas to Connecticut for Foxwoods' World Poker Finals. But, gosh, that would take a few days driving each way, so we decided to fly some and drive some. We flew from Las Vegas to Washington, DC, and revisited all of the national monuments and took a look at the damage done by the terrorists to the Pentagon. It was not something you would ever want to see – the plane crash had taken out more than 200 feet of the building, and wrecking cranes were tearing out great sections of the existing building to reach a safe place to start rebuilding.

When I was a lad of just 17 during World War II, I volunteered for the Navy to fight for our country. I still get a warm tingle each time I see the flag, and believe: "Our country, may she always be right – but right or wrong, she's our country and the best in the world." I am almost 75 years old, but I was as ready as I was at 17 to buckle up and fight again for my country as I gazed upon the destruction of the Pentagon.

Then, it was on to New York for a couple of shows on Broadway. Everyone in New York – and for that matter, all over the country – was extremely polite and courteous. Even the cabbies in New York opened doors and said thank you. We went to view ground zero, and it was not nice. However, I was proud to see them clearing away the rubble to get ready to rebuild. What a country we have – again, I was ready to fight and protect, but most of all I was proud of our people.

Then, we went to Pennsylvania, where Carol was born. She wanted to see the colorful leaves of fall again, we walked in them at Gettysburg. I was proud to be an American.

Next, we went to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and the Amish countryside at Intercourse, Pennsylvania. It was refreshing to see the old ways – the horse and buggy. It's great to be an American and to be in America – where all races have equal rights to life, liberty, religion, and the pursuit of happiness.

We then went on to Valley Forge, where Gen. George Washington made his winter encampment before defeating the British in the spring. It felt good to be an American and to live in this great county.

Finally, we traveled to "The Wonder of It All." I understand now why Foxwoods uses that line in all of its ads. It is an understatement, to say the least.

I have been around the world a few times and have seen most all of the sights of the modern and the old world – Disneyland, Disney World, cruise ships, Hollywood and Vine, all that Las Vegas has to offer (including final tables of the World Series of Poker and "The Seniors" World Championship of Poker at the WSOP), Times Square on New Year's Eve, the Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Super Bowl football games, the Orange Bowl halftime show, the Final Four in college basketball, the University of Oklahoma winning the national championship of football, rockets blasting off from Cape Canaveral, the Grand Canyon, the Amazon, the Colorado Rockies in October, volcanic eruptions, and Downtown Henderson, Nevada – but I have never seen anything like "The Wonder of It All."

Words do not often fail me, but when I saw for the first time Foxwoods Resort Casino rising out of the Connecticut woods at night with lights all ablaze, it was a sight to behold. Perhaps it was the night, or the woods all around with nothing else to be seen, or my vivid little boy imagination of King Arthur's castle at Camelot – or maybe I just wanted to play poker on a cloud.

I'd like to thank Mike Ward, Kathy Raymond, and the Foxwoods management team for inviting me to the World Poker Finals to host "The Seniors" IX World Championship of limit hold'em, and for adding $2,000 to the prize pool, which in addition to the $500 buy-in paid by each of the 115 players created a total prize pool of $59,500. I was very honored to have been invited to host this special event.

All of the final-table contestants were given "The Seniors" gifts, and the winner, David Arsht, received a special Waterford Irish Crystal "The Seniors" trophy, a wonderful leather jacket, and $22,610 in prize money.

Carol and I were gone for more than two weeks on our trip, and then we returned home to Las Vegas for some peace and quiet and to play a little poker at the grand opening of the Palms Resort and Casino, where my good friend Gene Trimble is the poker room manager.

It is wonderful to be in America, and to see all of its great places and great people. Thank you, America, and all Americans.

Until next time stay

Editor's note: "Oklahoma Johnny" Hale is the author of Gentleman Gambler, available through Card Player, and the creator of the Seniors Charities and the Seniors World Championship of Poker. His E-mail address is, and you can visit his website at