February 25, 2006

Action Island

By Otis © 2006

I couldn't see any coke on his nose. Still, if you'd told me there hadn't been some marching powder shooting up his nostrils in the last couple of hours, I would've called you an idiot. He was drinking tequila and spilling towers of hundred-dollar chips all over his spot in the one seat. Presently, the only smiling cocktail waiter in the joint showed up with nine glasses of tequila. The table exploded with cheers. The one seat, a guy in a black sport jacket with a leather collar, stood with a handful of black and entered into serious negotiation with the waiter. Thirty seconds later the one-seat dropped three black chips on the waiter's tray. The one seat, a guy everyone was calling The Billionaire, turned back to the table and said, "I don't know what that guy was saying, but it was very confusing." No one told him he'd just paid $300 for $80 in drinks.

The game was $50/$100 No-Limit Hold'em. Brandon sat in the one seat. Nick "TheTakeover" Schulman sat in the six seat. Nenad Medic was in the seven seat. A Venezuelan they call Twin Caracas was in the nine seat. Mike Matusow was in the ten seat. It appeared it was Matusow's turn to do a shot. He stood and held his glass high and said "Brandon!" He and Brandon drank their shots while the other eight players hid their drinks under the table or handed them to friends. It was evident that no one wanted to be drunk. They had a whale on the line and they needed all their strength to reel him in.

Brandon the Billionaire shook off the effects of the tequila and told the dealer, "These guys think they can take advantage of me...and they are right."

The rail was thick with tired people. It was 3am and the main event of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure had long since been put to bed. This was a cash game and if a TV producer had been anywhere in the room, the game would've been a reality show before sunrise.

Anyone who walked up quickly realized they had to ask one question before they could watch any more. "Who is that in the one seat?"

The answers would vary, depending on who was asked. Some would say, "He's a heroin addict." Others would tell you, "He's coked up and drunk." More creative people would say, "Ever watch the show Dynasty? His family was the basis for that show."

It would be about 12 hours before I learned the guy's true identity. His name was Brandon Davis. He either had been or was currently dating OC actress Mischa Barton. And, apparently Aaron Spelling did film an episode of Dynasty at the Davis home in Colorado. For the moment, though, his fame was of no concern to the other nine players at the table.

Tens of thousands of dollars sat in front of each player. The button would move, the blinds would be paid, the pots would be pushed. But for an hour, I don't remember any of the players contesting a pot with anyone but Brandon. It was not a poker game. It was poker's version of date rape meets gang rape meets star fucking.

When Brandon told a joke, everyone would laugh. When Brandon won a pot, everyone would congratulate him. When Brandon lost a pot, everyone would bemoan his bad luck.

For days, the temporary poker room at the Atlantis Resort and Casino had been home to the the biggest action for thousands of miles. At any give time, there were three $50/$100 no-limit games, several $25/$50, and a few $10/$20 games. Jean Robert-Bellande and Chris Fargis played $200/$400 triple draw. The reality show producer who never showed up would've called his production, "Action Island." This episode would been called, "Raping Brandon."

Each player took his turn fleecing the rich kid of his money. The other players weren't colluding necessarily. They just weren't playing against each other. They knew they stood a greater chance of losing against the other pros at their table. The nearly-guaranteed win would come at the expense of the one seat. So, they just waited their turn.

I'd heard tales of a whale named Casey who had done the same thing at the games in Aruba a few months before. Players lined up ten-deep to get their money down against the guy who would play any two cards for any amount of money and only fold when it was apparent there was no way he could possibly win. At one point, I heard one of the players say, "Imagine if we had Brandon and Casey at the same table."

I stood with a beer in my hand. Because I had special access, I was able to stand within a couple feet of the table and watch and listen to everything as it happened. It was one of those moments that I assume is like one's first experience with a hooker. I felt dirty and exhilarated at the same time. In front of me was poker pornography. It was a wildlife show with the kill-scene on a repeating loop.

It was nearly 4am and because of the room's special rules, the last hand would be dealt in just a few minutes. I could see the players exhale in disappointment. The guy in the 5-seat said, "If this game was in Vegas, it would go on for five days."

Matusow, happier than I'd ever seen him, looked up with a giant, sober smile on his face. "If Brandon were around all the time, I'd have to take up my drug habit again." He looked down at his chips and saw a bigger stack than he'd had in days. The he laughed out loud. "But it would be worth it."

Otis is a freelance writer, contributor to Up For Poker, and lead writer for the PokerStars Blog. He just returned from the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in the Bahamas.

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