How about one last tale from the Euro-Adventure before I head down to the ACHC (Al Can't Hang Compound) in Key West, Florida, where I may do irreparable damage to my internal organs, respiratory and/or circulatory systems?
This is the story of how my boyfriend nearly punched out Thierry Van Den Berg.
The scene? The downstairs bar area of the Empire Casino in London, on Day 2-something of the World Series of Poker Europe. The ten or so tables that fit into the room have been broken down to maybe three or four, and the absence of a security presence (since almost everyone has been moved upstairs to the main tournament area) has led to a bunch of Dutch guys doing a major no-no under the New World Order of exclusive poker media coverage: live blog on their laptops from the rail. These guys had been caught and admonished several times before, but decided to roll the dice again. I tried to be the nice guy and whispered a warning to one of them.
"You know, you're not supposed to have that out on the floor" I said, eyeing his computer.
"And who are you, the police?" said the burly Dutch dude with the military haircut, his stale, lager-tinted breath curling my nose hairs.
"No, I'm just trying to be nice and letting you know."
And with that, I went back to the hand I had been watching. They made no move to put away the laptop. And every time I passed by, Burly Dutch Dude would make eyes at me and say something like "There goes the police!"
So, after a few minutes of enduring that bullshit, I called down the big guns. And a couple of Bluff media reps arrived downstairs, just as the Dutch guys hid their laptop inside a backpack... and promptly pulled it back out as soon as they left, pointing and cackling at me.
"Ha! Ha! The police can do nothing!"
Drunk, immature Dutch guys are really not something I'm interested in dealing with on the tail end of a 12 hour day. And it's certainly not anything I'd have to take were I not a woman. These drunk imbeciles just wanted to fuck with me. If I were six feet tall, looked menacing enough, and had a penis, they probably would have packed up and left at their first warning.
Well, try all you want to fuck with me. But under no circumstances will Pauly let you get away with that crap. He's from the streets, yo.
"Which one is it?" Pauly said, breathless.
"The one in the polo shirt with the blue collar" I said, pointing at Burly Dutch Dude.
Unfortunately, Pauly walked up to a different Dutch dude than the one I'd intended him to.
"OK, man. Let's step outside" he said, to a very confused Thierry Van Den Berg, a Dutch poker pro who has made a number of WSOP cashes.
"No, no not him!" I cried. "The OTHER one."
But Pauly was too focused on his target. The two "had words," with Van Den Berg protesting all the way that he'd done nothing wrong.
Somehow in all of this fracas, Pauly figured out that the OTHER Dutch guy was indeed the culprit, and offered to settle things outside like men. And Burly Dutch Dude instantly turned into Burly Dutch Pussy the minute it became clear that fists and hitting would be involved in "settling" this matter.
"I leave because I choooose to leave! Not because of you!" he slurred on his way out.
That's right, bitch.
Later in the evening, Pauly tracked down Van Den Berg and offered his sincere apologies for the case of mistaken identity, explaining that he took the harassment of his girlfriend very seriously. When Pauly told him that he had covered his WSOP final table near-miss at the $5K 6-handed event this summer, Van Den Berg was actually impressed that an American journalist knew who he was.
This, however, would not be my last scuffle with burly Europeans with military haircuts.
The next day, I come back downstairs to the same area after dinner break to find some Scandi guy looking at a Swedish website on my colleague Jen's computer, which was set up next to mine. Having one's computer annexed by random railbirds and/or pros is unfortunately, a very common happening while covering poker tournaments. Some (Daniel Negreanu, Kirk Morrison, and Roland de Wolfe come to mind) are nice enough to ask "hey can I check my e-mail/Facebook/football bets/fantasy stats?" during obvious downtime. Others will just walk straight up to an open laptop while it's owner is off getting hands or counting chips and start surfing.
"Hi. Did Jennifer say you could use her computer?" I asked. He gave me a completely blank stare, then returned to what he was doing.
"Excuse me, did Jen say you could use her computer? Do you even know her?"
OK, maybe this guy didn't speak English.
"Do you understand what I'm saying?"
"Are you sick in the head?" replied the Scandi guy.
"I am not sick in the head. You, however, are using a computer that does not belong to you and without it's owner's permission."
"I just want to check my horse racing bets."
"I don't care! It's not your computer!"
"What is wrong with you?"
"With me? What is wrong with you just walking up here and surfing all over the internet on a computer that's not yours? This is someone's personal property! It's wrong, and you should leave."
"Really, are you sick in the head?"
"Do I have to go get her, or better yet, security?"
"Whatever... fuck you crazy bitch" he said, on his way out the door.
Guess his English was fine.
The two photographers from Image Masters, who were seated at the end of our little "media row" completely cracked up once he left the room, as did poker pro/energy trader Dan Shak, who was working on some sort of complex spreadsheet thing on a laptop next to mine.
"This computer's mine" he deadpanned to me.
"Yeah, those don't look like horse racing bets, either."
The next day, as players were taking their seats I was milling around the tournament area, taking stock of the players I had to cover when the burly Scandi dude at Table 4, Seat 1 stood up and extended his hand to me. It was the guy on Jen's laptop. And in the light of day, I recognized him as Jan Sorensen. He apologized for his behavior and I shook his hand.
"I was very rude and drunk" he said.
"You do get what I was saying, though? I mean, people keep their personal information on their computers, it's not right to just walk up and use one."
"Yes, I apologize."
I wished him good luck and that was it. Less than two hours later Theo Jorgensen took him out of the tournament en route to his final table finish, and I never saw him again.
The Burly Dutch Dude did, however make repeat appearances throughout the rest of the event, sweating a friend who went deep. But he avoided me at all costs.
And who said chivalry was dead?