PHX. SAMíS TOP 10
By Sammy Vaughn (a.k.a, Phx. Sam)
Sammy Vaughn is a long-time successful tournament player, who finished first and won a million dollars in the Las Vegas Hilton Million Dollar Blackjack Tournament. In his column, Sammy writes about anything he damn well wants to write about.
Out of the hundreds of interviews I did during, and after, the big Las Vegas Hilton tournies of 2004 and 2005 (including the one I won for a million bucks), would you believe only part of one interview made it on the air (well maybe not a hundred, but a bunch). And thatís only because they twisted Ms. Vickyís arm to get her on camera and tone me down a bit. So here, for the first time in print anywhere, you will read the top 10 reasons why all of my other brilliantly choreographed interviews were S#*! canned.
When confronted with a TV camera, I tend to put on my game face. Might not be so bad, but a FRIEND (!!), Alex Detterer, told me I have the perfect poker face. He said that I always look like an old man with serious "assterhoid" issues. (He actually used some medical term, but hey, I do know where my roids hurt.) By the way, Alex is the guy who looks a lot like that ole time tournament player we used to call "Wild Bills." All you new readers should ask a real long-time player what this means. One more tidbit: Alex also won Hiltonís craps tournament last year. The casino was sooo proud of his picture that they buried it under some of mine. Probably 86ed those photos the old way Ö 0.8 miles out of town and 6 feet deep. Scratch this interview.
After the young TV producer explained the protocol to me that he would ask me a question, and then I would answer the question back to him (duhhh), I replied thusly to the next question they asked me: "The only way a person could look worse on TV than these stupid ways of asking questions is to be Mike Tyson with his wife on a couch. Or, Bill Clinton behind a desk pointing his finger." CUT!
A young female producer actually asked me to perform the jig if I won the tournament. This reminded me of a western movie, where the villains made the hero do a jig. I felt like a good guy and quoted "Bartelby," one of the famous action characters in American literature, whose famous line was, "I prefer not to."
But the producer persisted and cajoled me until I finally said, "OK, if I win the million bucks, train your camera on my boyish midriff and wait for my bowels to move." I think I heard her mutter a quiet "crap" as she left the room.
On one set, I was sitting in front of a blackjack layout with some chips in front of me. Of course, during the sequence of things I managed to knock them over. The interviewer said, "Go ahead and do your tricks with the chips." I hesitated but she kept prodding me to, "go ahead and show off how you handle those chips for the camera." So I said, "OK," and proceeded to slowly stack the chips one at a time, mind you, to the height of 5, count Ďem 5. I then repeated this feat, and as a finale, I gingerly placed one stack squarely on top of the other stack. I then bowed to the camera. This time I think the interviewer muttered something that sounded like "Christ." The interview with my chip handling skills didnít make it. Damn.
Big Mike, who was with the Travel Channel I believe, was my favorite torturer. Still after he asked me to ask myself a really inane question, I said, "Mike, if you are going to expect answers for anything that stupid, get your fat ass up here on this side of the camera and own up to originating the damn query."
Actually, he was the best. While he was in town, he showed up at the Thursday mini-blackjack tournament at Sunset Station and played. He had driven to my massive compound (i.e., trailer) in Overton, NV and saw some trophies and memorabilia from my many years of playing in tournaments. In any event, during the Sunset tournament he was telling anyone who would listen that Sam is the greatest tournament player in history. It certainly gave the players in house a chuckle or two. As luck would have it, Mike wound up on my table and during the round he assured everyone that I would win, even though I was being soundly beaten by my opponents. As fate will have it, I won a miracle multiple-bet hand and swung everyone at the table. I actually never saw big Mike again, so there is at least one poor sole that thinks he knows the "greatest."
This female producer of this production company told me to get all excited and to scream this at the camera, "Iím here to win a million dollars!!!" I broke out "Bartelby" again, but that didnít work. She persisted and said all the other players had done it, which gave me even more reason to rebel. Finally, I gave in and signaled to roll Ďem the camera. I then stared at the camera and in a low sinister voice I said, "Iím here to keep you *&^%#$@r*(&^!ers from getting my money." Strange, but I never saw that interview on TV either.
On the final table of the 2004 Hilton Million Tournament, I was leading with only three hands to go when it all turned to S%#@! Suddenly, they stopped the tournament and I was dragged under duress down many hallways to do an interview. I protested all the way saying that this was a bad, bad time to do this. When the turned the lights up they said, "tell us how it feels." I guess I was probably supposed to say something like, "it was a thrill and honor to make the finals and play these great players."Bull%$#@!.. What I really did was raise my left hand over my head and said, "One Million Dollars." I then slammed my right hand down on the table and proclaimed, "I am &*^%$#@!&&^% thrilled to death." I think I heard something from the interviewer that sounded like, "Oh god, sarcasm." Nope, this interview didnít make on prime time either.
The young lady asked me how I would get my "focus" at the final table. I told her I hate that word "focus" am never use it. She didnít understand, and pressed on along that line. I eventually told her that was the second most overused and misused "Fí word in the English language. But she still tried using more variations of "focus" to get a response from me. Finally, to shut her up, I said, "The only context I would use that term in conjunction with blackjack would be as follows: During the year-long ordeal of the 2005 MILLION ĖI and my friend Fred Heilmann got a Number 2ing. (I held up two fingers to illustrate this.) The rest of you fine players got a year-long royal #1ing." Thatís when I left the appropriate single finger upraised on camera. See it?
I was asked to give my victory histrionic after my big win. I said, "How would anyone know that." No response. "Would I jump up and down?" Come on. "Would you scream or cry?" Oh please. They insisted that I demonstrate something for the shot. So I raised my big white ____ and waved it for the camera. (Editors note: Itís not what you think. Iím sure what Sammy was waving was his large Area 51 mug that he always brings with him when he plays. I think.)
I believe I can get that bunch of EEOC guvíment people to help me get on TV. The reason? They canít cut me off their show because I have a new blackjack-caused disease. It is called "blackjack Tour----- etts syndrome @#!$%^^*&(_)%#@##!!!!"
PS: If you want to show how much of your parentís money you wasted, message me at PhxSam on Kenny Smithís Blackjacktournaments.com fine message board. Tell me the author of the classic literature book featuring Bartelby. Or just ask for information on anything you want to know (Iím there to help the uneducated).
Speaking of Ken Smith, last year at the Imperial Palace Blackjack Tournament, a tall, very white guy came to the table where Fred H., Kenny, and others were sitting. He came up to my side and said, "I know this might sound strange to you, but my name is Ken Smith." He then proceeded to tell me that he was a new tournament player, but he knew there was another "famous" Ken Smith tournament player and he would love to meet him. Our famous Ken S. was engaged on the other side of the table and didnít hear this, so being the nice guy that I am, I introduced the "new" Ken Smith to the "oldí Ken Smith (are you with me?). Now that I think about it, they both even looked somewhat alike. After the "new" Ken "look-alike" left, who, by the way, was severely bereft of hair on top, I proclaimed, "We could always tell the two of them apart because the "new" Kenny had the receding hairline." Our Ken S. then modestly brushed his thick bangs from his eyes, and laffed and laffed (I think). Wait a minute. On second thought, please donít tell Ken S. that I repeated this tale.
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