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by John Vorhaus |  Published: Oct 30, 2013


John VorhausEvery year about this time, poker players and poker fans all over the world start to get excited about the November Nine and their titanic clash at the final table of the World Series of Poker. I get excited, too, but for a totally different reason. For others, it’s a chance to watch the best of the best compete, and maybe lay a bean or two on the outcome. For me, it’s a chance to break out the ol’ anagram generator and see what hidden meaning lies in the players’ names. In other words, it’s time again for anagram madness – or man a danger mass, as the case may be.

We start in seat one with Sylvain Loosli, whose name is kind of a joke in and of itself.

“How does he play?”

“How does who play?”


“That’s how he plays.”


“No, Who’s on first.”

But with a little anagram magic (or gaming maraca), we can turn Sylvain Loosli into villainy solos, and if that ain’t a recipe for a game plan, I don’t know what is. Look for this player to launch a series of villainy solos – blind stealing and aggressive reraises – for as long as the strategy works.

Moving on to seat two, we find Michiel Brummelhuis, who would do us all a favor if he changed his name to Mike Dandyhome, which is how this Dutchman’s name would translate (loosli) into English (at least according to me). Grind him through the anagram mill, though, and he comes out a very tasty and intriguing sublime chili hummer, which sounds like something you can get after hours in one of Las Vegas’ sketchier fast food joints or strip clubs. (Mike Dandyhome, by the way, anagrams into him dead monkey, so maybe he won’t want to go for the name change after all.)

Seat three will be occupied by the estimable Mark Newhouse. He’s a nice guy, I’m sure; however, look for him to start strong but finish weak, because how far can you be carried by a meek rush now? Then again, Mr. Knew a House might wake up with a big hand at just the right time and surprise us all.

Ryan Riess sits in seat four, and sir yearns for the right combination of cards, confidence and competence to carry him to victory. Given that yarns rise, I look for big bluffs from this guy, backed up with lots of storytelling bafflegab, a la Jamie Gold (lame id jog) in 2006.

Over in seat five there’s Amir Levahot, who will be wearing his aviator helm and bringing his mo’ heat, rival, in hopes that it will all avail, mother. He hails from the State of Israel, one of the poker world’s loftiest areas, so that should give him extra mojo.

There in seat six we find Mark McLaughlin, who should be warned by the prognosticating powers of anagram magic not to play too tight because muck all harming. Then again, he does hail from Brossard, Quebec, where, perhaps, he barbecues scrod, and is that not something we all try to do to the fish? Play strong, Mark; barbecue those scrod.

I knew that JC Tran in seat seven was going to give me problems, because what kind of anagram can you make with just six letters and only one vowel? I know all about crummy names for anagrams; my own, John Vorhaus, yields only the wilting Josh van Hour. But JC Tran? Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Unless you cheat and plug in “Jr.” as an abbreviation for “junior.” Then you can squeeze out Jr. can’t. Still weak, though. Weak. Well, it’s not my fault that JC has so few letters in his name. Not even a nickname. Again, not my fault. Go forth unarmed, Jr. can’t – the anagram gods cannot protect you, sir.

David Benefield has a nickname, “Raptor,” but he doesn’t really need it because David Benefield anagrams handily into a bedeviled find, and define devil: bad, and even veined if bladed, whatever that means. I could tell you that Raptor is both parrot and pro rat, but that would be just gilding the lily (which is to say eliding lightly).

Finally in seat nine resides Jay Farber, who boasts a refry jab, which sounds like a potent weapon, and also, if necessary, he can jar by fear. Just try not to re-barf, Jay. I can’t see that serving you well at all.

Well, there you have it, folks, your November Nine, stripped of chip counts, past performance, lifetime winnings, all of that; reduced to their essence, and handicapped by the hidden wisdom of their names. “What’s in a name?” asked Will Shakespeare (himself an ashier sleepwalker), and now I have asked the same question. Based on what I’ve found in my anagram crystal ball, I’m putting my money on…the man with no anagram, JC Tran! Because let’s face it, this whole anagram business is nonsense. It foretells the future no better than tea leaves (valet ease), oracles (lo races) or Ouija boards (duo-job arias).

On the other hand, it’s a lot more fun. And when the whole crowd is chanting, “Jar by fear! Jar by fear!” then we will know that not only do I have too much time on my hands but many of my readers do, too. ♠

John Vorhaus is author of the Killer Poker series and co-author of Decide to Play Great Poker, plus many mystery novels including World Series of Murder, available exclusively on Kindle. He tweets for no apparent reason @TrueFactBarFact and secretly controls the world from