A Mile in Another Man’s Shoes

It’s a winning or a losing thing. Depending on your stack size, a player walking by the Rio with a ridiculous brand new nickname can make you feel like either laughing or puking. If Martin Wilson had been born thirty years later he’d probably be known as “Supersonic Marty” if his agent got to choose or “Hung Like a Horse Wilson” if he got to choose himself. But he comes from an era when your peers conferred the nicknames, so he’s known as “Mad Marty” because he’s fucking nuts. It’s Binion’s for breakfast and before you’ve got the first coffee of the day in he’s answered the waitress’s polite “What kind of toast would you like sir ?” with a “How about to the four of us?” Ten minutes later, he’s requesting a doggy bag for what’s left on his plate, which turns out to be a the only healthy item he started with : a thin slice of orange. Next stop is Fitzgerald’s. He just can’t help himself. He stops a lady and asks her how much she thinks a taxi to the Golden Nugget would cost. She kindly tells him that a taxi isn’t necessary as it’s only a two minutes walk down Freemont street. Marty then spends ten minutes telling the poor woman that he knows she thinks she’s right and is genuinely trying to help but that she’s very much mistaken. God help her! Marty assures her that we’re off to get a cab! We don’t.

As we’re walking towards the Nugget, we see Kathy Liebert talking to some guy who’s selling hats and caps and stuff. I congratulate her on her third place finish in the opening event in the Rio. Marty is more practical and asks her how much she got. She rather sheepishly tells him it paid three hundred thousand. I bumped into Kathy in the Rio a couple of days later and she tells me our timing could have been a little better. Apparently she was haggling with the stall holder over the price of a cap and when he heard that she just had such a big cash he disgustedly broke off negotiations and told her to just take the damn thing and go. Marty is like that, he can cause havoc, even when he’s even trying.

I escaped from Marty and decided to have a sedate cup of coffee outside the Nugget with Jesse May, who doesn’t need a nickname. As we were having a friendly bet on whether the next Starbucks customer would be talking on a mobile phone as they ordered their coffee, a larger than life character called Fran stopped by to say hello. The first time I ever played at the WSOP in 1995 there was only one holdem game that wasn’t limit, and that was a 10/15 pot-limit game. Fran used to literally fall into the game in the wee small hours and cause mayhem. I kinda liked it, especially as I don’t have too much room to criticise others in that department and anyway anything that pisses half the players off has to be good for the game. No matter how wasted he was he usually had a pretty good idea of what he was doing and that pissed them off even more. I’m not saying all the new players lie about their past but if reinventing themselves in TV interviews was a hanging offence we wouldn’t need four starting days in the main event. Fran is a new man now and has found God, he didn’t pull any punches or avoid any issues as he talked about the years he lived in a haze. He left us with some sound advice : “Don’t judge a man till you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.” As we were thinking about this English player John Gee who’d been listening in from the next table added his bit : “I’d walk a mile in any man’s shoes. I’d have a new pair of shoes and have a mile start on the previous owner.”