Billiards International Presents Tournament of Champions at Harrah’s Resort Southern California

Ga-young Kim

Ga-young Kim

You’ve watched them all on ESPN, now it’s your turn to see the Champions of Billiards performing live at Harrah’s Resort Southern California October 6 through October 9, 2014. Be a part of the ESPN filming and win fabulous prizes (must be present to win). Admission is free.

On Monday, October 6, 2014 at 7 p.m. come challenge the champions and share a rack with the world’s best and get some pointers, too.

Thorsten Hohmann

Thorsten Hohmann

Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at 3 p.m. come see Darren Appleton, Shane Van Boening, Thorsten Hohmann and Dennis Orcollo compete in the Men’s International Challenge of Champions for $25,000 in a 9-ball event.

On Wednesday, October 8, 2014 at 3 p.m. the Women’s Tournament of Champions will feature Karen Corr, Allison Fisher, Kelly Fisher and Ga-young Kim compete for the $25,000 prize in a 9-ball event.

Come watch Florian “Venom” Kohler, Nick Nikolaidis, Andy Segal and Gabi Visoiu perform Trick Shot Magic on Thursday, October 9 at 2 p.m.

Andy Segal

Andy Segal

Don’t miss this opportunity to see the best of the best compete in this ESPN event. Free admission.  Must be 21 to attend.

Discounted rooms available. Call Harrah’s Resort Southern California at 888-242-7724.

For more information, contact Robert Turner at 562-922-9011 or robertturnerpoker@gmail.com.

Robert Turner is a legendary poker player and billiards and casino marketing expert. Robert is most well- known for introducing the game of Omaha poker to Nevada in 1982 and to California in 1986. He created Legends of Poker for the Bicycle Casino in 1995. He also helped create Live at the Bike, the first live gaming site broadcast on the Internet in 2002.

He has spent over 30 years in casino marketing and player development and has served as an executive host at the Bicycle Casino and MGM. He is currently working with his new companies Crown Digital Games developing mobile apps and Vision Poker, a poker marketing group.

 Find Robert on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thechipburner and on Twitter @thechipburner. He can also be reached at robertturnerpoker@gmail.com for consulting and teaching.

Minnesota Fats, the Hustler: Part 2

Minnesota Fats 2

Fats made several more visits to the Bicycle Casino, and on one particular visit in December 1994 the Pulitzer Prize-winning sportswriter Jim Murray wrote a feature about him for the Los Angeles Times called “Cue Music, ‘Hustler’ Is in Town.”

I can’t improve on Murray’s description of Fats, so I won’t even try: “The things Fats could do with a pool cue were works of art. He could put a cue ball in your ear as well as a corner pocket if you wanted. He did with a pool cue what Babe Ruth did with a bat, Red Grange with a football, Magic Johnson with a basketball, or Ben Hogan with a two-wood.”

Meeting a character like Fats can’t help but leave a life-long impression on you. After I wrote the first article I was fortunate to receive some amazing stories about how Fats touched other people’s lives as well. Here are a couple of highlights:

Earl Burton, a writer for pokernewsdaily.com, shared how his parents owned a truck stop in central Illinois in the early 70’s that had a good pool table. He recalls, “I don’t know how it happened and don’t know how he had heard about the games that had occurred on that pool table, but one night a gentleman pulled up in a huge Caddy and entered the room. In he strolled, coming to the counter to ask my mom, “Where’s this big game at?” My mom immediately knew who he was and sent him to the pool room, where the game that was going on immediately stopped. I was doing homework at the time but, interested, I headed back to the room to see what was going on.”

Earl continues: “It was Minnesota Fats, as I was to learn from watching ‘Wide World of Sports’ over the next couple of years. He shook hands with some of the players, and then announced a challenge. “Who wants to take on the best player in the world?” Some of the men in the room pulled out $20, a couple pulled out a $100, but Fats said, “No less than $500 a game, boys. Otherwise I’m gonna go eat.”

Two men ponied up the money and, while he proceeded to wax both of them, Fats constantly talked. “You know, I could be in Decatur tonight. Probably would earn a lot more.” Another roll of hundreds came out and, surprisingly, Fats lost his first game. “Gotta be something wrong with the table here,” he said.

After that loss, another couple of rolls came out and Fats went back to beating anyone who came in front of him. After a couple of hours of play, no one was left. I had watched it all and was amazed at how he commanded the table, not only through his play but through his personality. As some of the men left the room, Fats saw me sitting on the side. “You want to learn how to play?” he said. I immediately jumped up!

For the next hour, Fats showed me masses, jumps, the angles to the game and tried to teach me how to “talk the talk,” as he put it. “Anyone can play this game, you just got to make it interesting for some,” he said as I struck a shot.

“You’re gonna do OK, kid,” he said to me as he tossed my mom a $200 tip. “He’s gonna do you proud,” he said to her as he left. To this day, I still shoot a decent game of pool. And, I’d like to believe, it was because of Fats.”

I’m sure many others can say the same. Pool enthusiast Scott Kennedy is another such person:

“1971, I was 18 years old and was about to see Minnesota Fats play pool at a pool hall in Cudahy, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee. So here’s the Fat Man in front of maybe 50 people and he says, “I understaaaaand (he talks just like W.C Fields really) there’s a young maaan in the audience who thinks he can shooot pool. His naaaame is Scott Kennedy.”

Oh no!!?? Fats calls me down, and we shake hands. He says “Mr. Kennedyyyy, I will let you breaaak ’cause it may be your onlyyyy shot.” I broke very nervously and got something in and maybe made a ball or two. Fats gets up, runs the table and does some trick shot on the 8, and the cue balls goes around the table and scratches. “Wellllll, Mr. Kennedyyyy, looks like I lost.” I just had the thrill of a lifetime.

After the exhibition was over, a crowd gathered around a small table where Minnesota Fats was sitting and signing autographs. I was not prepared and got a small piece of paper from someone and approached Minnesota Fats. He used a rubber stamp instead of a pen to sign. I asked him to please sign this for me because none of my friends will believe I met Minnesota Fats, let alone played pool with him. He signed the paper, “I played pool with Scott Kenedy, Minnesota Fats.” He spelled my name wrong but I didn’t care.”

Now for the story how Minnesota Fats changed my life forever.

After he passed away on January 15, 1996, I received a call two years later from Fat’s widow T-Bell who said she missed the pool tournaments and asked if she could visit for a few weeks. A few days later, she asked if one her relatives named Charity, who loved pool, could come, too. I said, “Sure.”

I ended up marrying Charity, and we had three beautiful children who are now my life. And it’s all because of Minnesota Fats. Our paths were destined to cross, and my life is better for it.

Robert Turner is a legendary poker player and casino and billiard marketing expert. Robert is most well- known for introducing the game of Omaha poker to Nevada in 1982 and to California in 1986. He created Live at the Bike, the first live gaming site broadcast on the Internet in 2002, and he also created Legends of Poker for the Bicycle Casino and the National Championship of Poker for Hollywood Park Casino both in 1995.

In the year 2000, he created World Team Poker, the first professional league for poker. He has spent over 30 years in casino marketing and player development and has served as an executive host at the Bicycle Casino and MGM. He is currently working with his new companies Crown Digital Games developing mobile apps and Vision Poker, a poker marketing and managing group.

Find Robert on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thechipburner and on Twitter @thechipburner. Robert Turner can also be reached at robertturnerpoker@gmail.com for consulting, marketing and teaching.

Money Breeds Money: Minnesota Fats, Pool Hustler and Showman, Part 1

Minnesota Fats

Minnesota Fats changed my life. I first fell in love with pool at the age of 15 when a friend invited me to a pool tournament in Tennessee. It looked like something out of a movie. The pool room had two sides, one where we were watching the tournament and a practice side. We were in the middle of nowhere watching these pool sharks in a tournament betting and gambling when all of a sudden the room exploded with excitement.

Everyone started yelling, “Minnesota Fats is here!” and rushed over to the practice area. Fats was standing there doing what seemed like a stand-up routine talking about gambling, and what came out of his mouth just amazed me. He was saying things like, “I can’t believe I’m in this dump in Tennessee.” Though he was insulting people, they loved it. He continued his tirade, “I’ve busted kings and queens and sultans all over the world, and now I’m in this dump where no one has change for a $20. Does anybody in this joint have ANY money at all, or did I just waste my time?”

He was unrelenting: “I’d like to play for $500 if you brokes can come up with the money. I know you’re scared because I’m Minnesota Fats, the world’s greatest pool player. But that’s ok because when I leave this joint I’m going to bust every single one of you. So call your friends, gather all your money and give it to the Fat Man.”

When a waitress walked by, he’d leer and say, “Wow, what a tomato!” He went from bragging about his pool game to his other game: “Women follow me all over the world with a mattress strapped to their backs.” He was a character I had never seen before or since.

Fast forward nearly 30 years later to 1993 when I was the marketing director for the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles. I was starting to promote pool at the time. I often wondered what happened to Fats. I asked Mike Massey, one of the world’s greatest trick shot artists, about Fats. He told me he was living in Nashville and that he had his number. I asked if he thought he would come out to our pool tournament in Los Angeles. He said he’s pretty old but give him a call.

I did just that and spoke to a woman named T-Bell who said she was his wife. I asked her if I sent two airline tickets, would they come out and do an exhibition. She agreed. I will never forget the first thing he said to me when he walked into the Bicycle Casino, “Robert, nice place you have here. What kind of groceries do they have?” I had to think for a minute, then I realized what he wanted and said, “Are you hungry?”

Over lunch I realized I had a problem. Looking at his hands, I noticed he had a severe tremor. I had invited television stations to come that night and wondered if he could perform, but it was too late to turn back now. We went back to meet the news crew, and boy, was I in for a surprise.

Even though he was in the later stages of life, he was still the showman I remember from my youth. With the cameras rolling, he prepared to do a trick shot where he was going to bank the ball from one end of the table to another.

He missed the first three shots. He then looked up at the sportscaster and said, “You better not show this on TV because they won’t believe that I missed a shot.” Everyone burst out laughing.

He continued, “Nothing in life is free. Someone put some money on the table, and I won’t miss.” Sure enough, someone pulled out a twenty, and Fats shot the ball right in. He made the next two shots, the crowd went wild and it was on the news for the next two nights.

He told me the Bicycle Casino put on one of the nicest pool tournaments he had ever been to. He said, “Money breeds money, and you are doing the right thing here. You have all these people gambling, and the groceries are good. What’s not to like about this place?”

I took him to a few pool rooms around Los Angeles during that stay, and everywhere we went he was like a magnet. As soon as people heard he was in the room, people would come running, and if it was an empty room, it would be full in 15 minutes. He regaled them with stories and mesmerized the crowd.

After this trip, I invited him back to the Bicycle Casino for the next tournament, and this visit would change my life forever.

Robert Turner is a legendary poker player and casino and billiards marketing expert. Robert is most well- known for introducing the game of Omaha poker to Nevada in 1982 and to California in 1986. He created Legends of Poker for the Bicycle Casino and the National Championship of Poker for Hollywood Park Casino both in 1995. He also helped create Live at the Bike, the first live gaming site broadcast on the Internet in 2002.

In the year 2000, he created World Team Poker, the first professional league for poker. He has spent over 30 years in casino marketing and player development and has served as an executive host at the Bicycle Casino and MGM. He is currently working with his new companies Crown Digital Games developing mobile apps and Vision Poker, a poker marketing and managing group.

Follow Robert on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thechipburner and on Twitter @thechipburner. Robert Turner can also be reached at robertturnerpoker@gmail.com for consulting, marketing and teaching.

Lessons I Learned at the Poker Table–Part 1

Poker Game

While I was reading an article from the Boston Globe titled “Lessons Learned in a Pool Hall” by Carlo Rotella, the last line in particular stood out to me. Rotella writes: “If you pay attention, you can learn something of value from whatever and whoever you find in front of you.” His words inspired me to write about the lessons I learned at the poker table over the years.

The first thing I learned is that all players are in control of their destiny; a bad run cannot be blamed solely on bad beats. If you are managing your bankroll properly, a string of bad beats will not affect your bankroll because you are playing within your limits and making adjustments as necessary. Say if you have a bad session, you may need to drop down in limit until you make it up before moving back up. The decision is all yours. That is one of the beauties of poker—you are in charge, but it is also one of its pitfalls. If you make mistakes in money management and get completely broke, you have only yourself to blame for playing above your means and jeopardizing your whole bankroll.

This leads me to my second point. I learned that the hardest thing in gambling is dealing with your own demons. We all have a dark side that affects our play and controlling those demons is such an important part of gambling. I have seen sports betting and other forms of gambling take a toll on many poker players’ lives throughout the years. These players get tired of grinding at poker and give in to the urge to do something more exciting. They seek the adrenaline rush that games of chance such as craps and blackjack gives them. If poker was that easy, there would be many more successful poker players.

One of the greatest skills a poker player can possess is the ability to read opponents. An extreme example of this happened in a home game I was running. I had two players who kept needling each other. Both were drinking. All of a sudden it got out of hand, and one of the players named Wayne reached across the table and slapped the other player called Doc. He got up without a word and left to go home, or so I thought. As I was addressing the issue with Wayne, there was a knock at the door, and to my surprise Doc was standing there. He walked back to his seat and said, “Let’s play poker.” I went to get a towel to wipe the blood from his face, and as I walked back to the table, I noticed he had a gun under the table with the hammer back aimed at Wayne’s stomach. I was in shock. I walked over to Wayne and whispered to him, “Wayne, you better go. Doc has a gun under the table pointed at your stomach.” Wayne said, “I’m not leaving. If he was going to shoot me, he would have already shot me. Let’s play poker.” I learned that night that reading people might not just win you a pot but save your life.

The most important thing we all should remember is nothing is as important as family and friends. One of my best friends and one of the greatest people I have ever met at the poker table was an attorney who sometimes let poker interfere with his family. He was always making comments about the time like, “I should have left a long time ago. I don’t know why I’m still here. My wife is going to be so upset.”’ We didn’t take it literally until one night about 11 p.m. he was involved in a big pot when all of a sudden two diamond rings were thrown into the pot. Everyone was startled and looked up to see his wife standing behind him. She said, “You guys want to win it all? You might as well win these.” It created quite a problem for the dealer. Of course, we gave the rings back, but after that we were always looking over his shoulder for his wife. We saw her one more time. She suddenly appeared and slapped him across the face and turned around and left. Blood was streaming down his face. He didn’t miss a beat and just kept on playing. He always struggled balancing his real life with what he loved to do, which is play poker.

Poker can be exciting and life changing, for better or worse. You can meet some of the best people and some really bad actors. In my next article, I will share more stories about life lessons from the poker table.

Robert Turner is a legendary poker player and casino marketing expert. Robert is most well- known for introducing the game of Omaha poker to Nevada in 1982 and to California in 1986. He created Live at the Bike, the first live gaming site broadcast on the Internet in 2002, and he also created Legends of Poker for the Bicycle Casino and the National Championship of Poker for Hollywood Park Casino both in 1995.

In the year 2000, he created World Team Poker, the first professional league for poker. He has spent over 30 years in casino marketing and player development and has served as an executive host at the Bicycle Casino and MGM. He is currently working with his new companies Crown Digital Games developing mobile apps and Vision Poker, a poker marketing and managing group.

Follow Robert on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thechipburner and on Twitter @thechipburner.

Robert Turner can also be reached at robertturnerpoker@gmail.com for consulting, marketing and teaching.