Sharing Steve :: New Stuff
Monday, May 21, 2007

Steve, the Poker King of NYC

Full Tilt Poker Blog
May 18 (2007)
#140 - The Full Tilt Poker Guide to Manhattan, Part III - Never Play Poker with a Man Named Steve Martin
Posted by Michael Craig

Let’s just cut to the chase here. Steve Martin is a superb poker player and a better con man. He operates under the cover that he knows nothing about the game, yet I saw him make an extremely canny play, then correct me when I didn’t get the percentages right.

Martin is a long time friend of Tina Brown and Harold Evens, and Tina was responsible for him becoming a writer. He wrote some short pieces for THE NEW YORKER when she was editor, and later published those as a collection. He’s since written a play and two novellas. So when he professed poker ignorance, it was easy to assume that his presence had nothing to do with the promise of a friendly game at the end of the night.

After speeches had been made, dinner had been cleared away, and dessert and coffee served, the hosts brought out some cards and chips.

There wasn’t a lot of time to play. Harry and Tina, Tony had told me, were not late-night types. Steve Martin announced he wasn’t playing because he knew nothing about the game.

Everyone sighed, and then groaned. “I’m leaving town,” he insisted. “I really can’t stay. Poker’s just not my thing.” There were some impassioned pleas. (I kept quiet, remembering my promise.)

Finally, he relented. “I have to go, so I can play only for 20 minutes. But I’m not a poker player.”

We took over one of the round dinner tables. I found myself plopping down to Martin’s immediate left, elbowing a couple other guests out of the way. No harm, no foul, right?

When a jacketed form over my right shoulder wedged in between me and Steve, my first instinct was to take a swing at the interloper. But it was Tony Holden, my good friend and the guest of honor. I cut him some slack.

At least I had the pleasure of sitting to the immediate right of Holden’s editor, the lovely Amanda Murray. And then Harold Evans squeezed in between us. Evans opened up his house to us, was a decades-long friend of Tony, and was nice enough to let the likes of me wander around unescorted, so all I could do is stew at the injustice of it all.

As we passed out chips, several people, Martin included, asked, “What are we playing for?”

Some dope said, “The right to say they beat Steve Martin at poker.” Unfortunately, that dope was me.

Steve noticed me for the first time and politely insisted, “That’s not worth anything. I don’t know the game.”

At least Steve Martin and I are now talking. (I had earlier talked with my lawyer and chum Kay about how to pitch Martin the idea she and I have been nurturing for two years, a movie we’ve been calling Apart from the total inappropriateness of bearding a celebrity guest in his friends’ home, the main character is a woman – the angry mom – and the only significant male role is that of the rotten husband.)

On the first hand, a number of players limped in, and Martin raised. Most called. I don’t remember the specific cards on the flop, but it was three low cards, two of them clubs – something like 9c-6d-2c.

Amanda Murray, who was in the big blind, led with a bet. It was folded to Martin and he moved all in, saying something like, “I need to get going.” (It was around this time I decided these protests were part of an act.) Amanda called, showing A-K.

Steve turned over Kc-3c, acting like he goofed. “Well, I guess I’m chasing a flush,” he said with resignation.

Some know-it-all chirped in, “That’s 9 outs. You’re 36% to win, but you had the fold-equity of raising all-in. It was a good play.”

Not taking his eyes off the board, he said to me (a/k/a Mr. Know-It-All), “I also win with a three."

Oops, 12 outs. Nearly a coin flip. Glad I didn’t add in, “I just wrote a book on these kinds of calculations.”

He hit his club on the river and won the giant pot. He won the next one, too, pushing all-in pre-flop with 4-4, and drawing a horde of callers, none of whom had a hand or hit one.

Amanda got her revenge but Martin made good on his plan to leave, taking the money and running. Tony Holden escorted him to the door and, because I busted with Kc-9c in his pocket-fours hand, I tagged along.

Tony signed a copy of BIGGER DEAL with Steve, who asked, “Could you sign one also for Warren Buffett? I’m playing poker with him in Las Vegas and I’m sure he’d enjoy a copy.”


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