By Michael Craig, Exclusive Internet Content Provider of Roshambo, the Rematch
I have just witnessed a war.
I started the day with an innocent enough plan: register for the World Series of Poker Media Tournament at the Rio, check out the Gaming Life Expo, meet up with the people at PokerPainter.com (for whom I am doing a book signing on Saturday at 1 PM), and go downtown to the Gamblers Book Shop.
I had accomplished all but the last when an opportunity presented itself that caused me to bypass Howard Schwartz and his store. What are books, anyway? Just the Internet of the twentieth century.
I am on record for protesting, at least informally – I had not yet resorted to formal administrative appeals or litigation – about my exclusion from the Roshambo event. (See Noshambo section.) Apparently, the powers that be wanted to make amends. They offered me the exclusive Internet content rights to an event that took place at the TV Table at 12:34 PM today, Thursday, July 27, 2006.
When I heard about the event, I quickly accepted. I’m sure you would do the same.
Last year, ESPN featured a high-stakes ($500 buy-in) Roshambo tournament among 64 of the world’s top poker players. Phil Gordon arranged the event for his charity, Put a Bad Beat on Cancer, but the winner received a buy-in to the Main Event. It may have been the richest Roshambo tournament in history. It was certainly the richest sanctioned tournament.
In a stunning upset, Bobby “Bo-Bo” Boyd defeated Rafe “Rosham” Furst, generally considered one of the greatest Roshambo practitioners alive. (Furst is contributing a section on RoShamBo to the FULL TILT book.)
ESPN prevailed upon those storied competitors for a rematch. Luckily, your correspondent was there.
The atmosphere was one of “pure” Roshambo. The crass commercialism and profiteering that has marked this edition of the World Series of Poker was completely absent. There was just one spectator in the bleachers, a guy eating an ice cream cone, but they shooed him away.
I, alone, was in Press Row, sitting in Jennifer Creason’s seat. CardPlayer.com, apparently upset that its usual preferred access had been taken away, was off protesting someplace. Or they didn’t know about it. (I’m not sure which reflects worse on them.)
There was a brief fracas when I was asked to move back, some eleventh-hour harassment about my wearing a white shirt on camera. Andy Beal never complained about the color of my shirt. Phil Ivey never had a problem with my presence. (Well, he did but he got over it.)
More interested in seeing this event than starting my own protest, I moved back to a nearby table.
It was a simple, classical setting. Mano-a-mano. Rafe Furst, standing in position 5. Bobby Boyd, standing in the dealer’s box. (I’m surprised Furst didn’t say something about Boyd taking the dealer’s box, but I didn’t think it was right as a member of the media to interfere. I kept my mouth shut.)
This was like watching the World Series in the early Seventies, except instead of Benny and Jack Binion and Eric Drache running the show, it was a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company.
It was just the two competitors in the arena. And two handheld cameras, a crane-operated camera, two boom microphones, and two security guards. Just like the old days at the Horseshoe.
The competition itself was over in a flash, like an early Mike Tyson fight. The finish was a triumphant moment for one of them, a heartbreaking moment for the other. That will have to pass for the entire news content of this story until ESPN airs “The Nuts” sometime in the next couple months.
After the winner had been declared, ESPN had to spend a significant amount of time framing shots. It was difficult to get both competitors’ hands into the shot along with the table felt, which had been inscribed with “Milwaukee’s Best Light” and “PartyPoker.Net – The Worldest’s Largest Blackjack School.” Eventually, however, they made it work.
Great heads-up (or, in this case, hands-up) matches are hard to come by. Nick the Greek and Johnny Moss. Archie Karras and Chip Reese. Andy Beal and Phil Ivey. And now the rematch of Bobby Boyd and Rafe Furst.
I’m thrilled to have developed enough of a reputation in reporting such stories to have this preferred access. There was NO media present except for me and Disney, and I’m proud of that.
I’ve tried to give you the full story, except for the outcome. And at this World Series of Poker, at least for this event, the media is going to do exactly what the moneyed interests say.
It’s 2:05 PM. I was concerned about rushing this story but now you have it all (except the result). I even have time to make it back to the Rio to get my seat assignment for the Media Tournament. The press conference goes from 2:45 to almost 5 PM, but I hear we’re going to get to see a clip of the new Curtis Hanson poker movie, LUCKY YOU.