Friday, May 31, 2013

Chad is Champ; or, Has Everybody Heard About the Bird?

If memory serves, I believe I was first introduced to the “bird shirt” at the World Series of Poker a couple of years ago.

I’m hardly the kind of person who gets too uptight about fashion decisions. Nor am I that well-versed when it comes to making judgments about clothing choices. But even I instinctively understood the garment to be one of the most hideous imaginable.

However, my colleague and fellow blogger Chad Holloway felt differently. He not only would wear the bird shirt with confusing, strangely-placed pride but somehow successfully encouraged others to don the sucker at times while covering that year’s Main Event. Later we all got a kick out of occasionally spotting the bird shirt flying through the background during ESPN broadcasts.

Moving forward, I’d seen this week that Chad and a couple of other PokerNews guys had entered Event No. 1 of the 2013 World Series of Poker, the $500 Casino Employees Event, and that both Chad and our buddy Josh Cahlik had made it through to yesterday’s second and final day of play. In fact, they both had decent-sized stacks to sit near the top of the counts with 55 left.

That made me much more interested in checking out the coverage yesterday than I would’ve been otherwise. So I dialed up the Live Reporting page on PokerNews during the afternoon, and before long saw Day 2 photos of both Chad and Josh had been posted.

First I spotted the one of Josh, looking appropriately serious and engaged. I looked a little further....

And there it was. Staring up out of the photos as if to prove -- defiantly -- that it was not extinct, no sir.

That’s right. I’m talking about the bird shirt.

I couldn’t help but grin.

As the night wound down I kept refreshing the updates to see that Josh was in fact chip leader with about 15 left and Chad just a few spots back. I’ve worked with both numerous times over the last few years, both at the WSOP and at other events, and so was both excited and eager to see how things might play out for them last night.

Almost exactly a year ago I was in Punte del Este with Josh, waiting in long lines as we battled with great difficulty to get back to the States thanks to some canceled flights along the way. Have to say I feel an extra kinship with Josh as he not too long ago completed an English degree, our shared major giving us some common ground that will sometimes filter into our conversations.

Josh is also a creative type who has recently launched plans to make a feature film for which he’s written the script. The project -- titled Multiplex -- sounds pretty cool, actually, and he’s got a Kickstarter going to help get it off the ground. I’ve contributed a few bucks to it, and it looks like he’s more than two-thirds of the way to his goal at the moment -- check it out.

Josh ended up making it all of the way to 12th last night for a $5,010 cash, which I’m assuming will help out considerably budget-wise once shooting gets underway for Multiplex later in the summer. Meanwhile, Chad kept hanging around and was still there by the time the final table started with an above-average stack and in third position.

I lasted a little while longer -- it was already midnight here on the east coast -- before hitting the sack. Then later on during the night I got up and rechecked things to see Chad was still in with four left. Went back to bed and woke up this morning thinking about the tournament.

Still in bed, I had several of those weird half-dream half-waking visions flitting through my brain before I became fully conscious, several times imagining that I was checking the PokerNews app on my iPhone to see the results. You know what I’m talking about, how you’ll sometimes lay there thinking-slash-dreaming about getting up and taking a shower or doing whatever you are about to do?

A couple of times I saw other, less familiar names listed as having won, with Chad going out in fourth or third. Then once I saw he’d won. Then I finally got up to check for real, and damned if he didn’t get there. Chad had really won -- no shinola -- the bird shirt still staring dumbly, only now looking up out of a winner’s photo.

I checked my Twitter feed to see a lot of congratulatory tweets heading in Chad’s direction as the tourney had only ended an hour or two before. I also saw Chad’s tweet saying “Today a dream of mine came true.” I chuckled again, thinking about my own weird waking dreams of the tourney’s conclusion.

Chad and I were just up at Foxwoods covering the WSOP Circuit event that took place there in April. Like me, Chad’s a big fan of poker history and that always gives us lots to talk about. He’s also a solid player who plays pretty much year round and has had some success before, so I wasn’t too surprised to see him do well in the event.

But we all know how poker tourneys go, and how even when the favorites win there’s always an element of surprise. Unlike in most sports or games there’s so much uncertainty and chance involved no one can ever be assured of anything.

All of which is to say I’m happy for Chad and still shaking my head a bit to think that he actually managed to emerge from the 898 who entered to win a WSOP bracelet. Hard to believe, really. Kind of like that shirt.

Good thing Chad now has that piece of jewelry to wear so as to distract us.

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