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Life is Good

by Linda Johnson |  Published: Aug 24, 2011


I’m writing this column as I sit on the deck of Royal Carribean’s beautiful cruise ship, the Allure of the Seas. One of the perks of being a partner in Card Player Cruises is getting to go on familiarization cruises to check out the venues and to make preparations for future cruises. Oftentimes, I use these FAM trips as an excuse to cruise, since after more than 100 cruises, our operation is pretty much cookie cutter!

By the time this column gets read, we’ll know who the November Nine are. I send each of them heartfelt congratulations and advise them to bask in their 15 minutes of fame and glory. Their lives will never be the same, and I hope they each enjoy the thrill of overnight stardom.

Kudos to the staff of the World Series of Poker on yet another amazing tournament series — I don’t know how they do it! It’s hard to fathom the planning that must go into running six or more simultaneous tournaments each day, as well as live games and satellites. Each year, the World Series gets better; I am always impressed how the pieces fall into place. Nolan Dalla, WSOP media director, did a great job of distributing daily reports to the press so we could keep up with the winners and the losers. Jack Effel, WSOP tournament director, did an amazing job answering players’ questions through Twitter and other social networks. The players kept us updated with their victories and bustouts. Live games were highlighted in real-time media and were up to date and accurate. There were more live games this year than last, and in this economy, I would have bet the under.

One of my personal favorite traditions that started a few years ago at the WSOP is the bracelet ceremony. I love hearing the winner’s national anthem as the winner beams from the stage. What a source of pride it must be to be recognized by your peers for such an accomplishment. I had a similar “feel good” moment when I was asked to be part of the ladies “Parade of Champions,” which took place prior to the ladies no-limit hold’em tournament. Jan Fisher emceed the event and introduced many of the women on stage who had won bracelets in past years. My very favorite 2011 WSOP moment occurred at the end of the ceremony when more than 125 women broke into a flash-mob dance. We had managed to keep it a secret, for the most part, conducting rehearsals in private homes in the Las Vegas area and through a series of training videos for the participants from out of town. You can view the Parade of Champions and the mob blast fun at

Speaking of bets, I had two big WSOP bets to sweat this year. The bet I loved best was the under on 5,900 entrants in the main event. Obviously I lost that one, but from a poker player’s point of view, I’m happy that poker is alive and well, and that the WSOP had its third-largest turnout in history for this prestigious tournament. The other big bet that I have to sweat until the end of the WSOPE is a bracelet bet with Daniel Negreanu. When Daniel announced that he was taking 3-1 on his winning a bracelet in 2011, I jumped on it. I would love to know what the real price is on a great tournament player who is going to play as many events as possible winning a bracelet in 2011 at the WSOP or WSOPE. Off the top of my head, I would estimate it to be at least 4-1. Perhaps a mathematician could investigate for us?

As usual, I observed some funny occurrences at the Rio. In the razz tournament, one of the novice players got a one-round penalty for exposing his cards prematurely. As required, the tournament official took his Total Rewards players card to log the incident. While he was away from the table, the players agreed to play a trick on him. When he returned, we explained that he was now a registered rules-violator and that he was required to announce that information to each new table he joined. He was rather surprised to learn this, but agreed to do so since “that was the rule.” In the same razz tournament, my tablemates were able to convince one of the players that anyone had the option of betting all in on the river card, even though it was a limit tournament. When he tried it a bit later, we couldn’t stop laughing at the dealer’s bewildered face.

Because there were so many out-of-towners in Las Vegas for the Series, we had many guests drop by our Wednesday Poker Discussion poker group. John Vorhaus made a short presentation to our group and talked about the new book he co-authored with Annie Duke titled Decide to Play Great Poker. Some of my favorite Vorhaus quotes from the meeting are, “To an asshole, the whole world looks dark!” and “He was on the last float in the clueless parade.”

My laptop battery is wearing down, so I just returned to my cabin. When I turned on the television, I was thrilled to see live coverage of the main event on ESPN. They just announced that there are 484 players remaining. I even got to witness a bad beat on the first hand — Nachman Berlin’s K-K beaten by Jonathan Garneau’s A-10. What a great life, cruising and watching the main event live from the Rio on television!
By the way, if you haven’t booked your cabin yet for the September Caribbean cruises, you should call the office today at (888) 999-4880, since availability is extremely limited. The Allure of the Seas is the nicest ship I’ve ever experienced. It has a Broadway theater, more than 20 eating venues, a carousel, a zipline, a miniature golf course, Central Park, a rock-climbing wall, an ice skating rink, a comedy club, Boardwalk, Surfrider, and many other amenities. Card Player Cruises has added more tournaments to its poker menu and offers live action at many limits and variations. There still are cabins available for the remaining 2011 Hawaii and Mexico trips.
Now, let’s play poker! ♠
Linda Johnson is available to host poker tournaments, seminars, and corporate events. She is a partner in Card Player Cruises and an instructor for WPT Boot Camp. You can contact her at or through her website at