Every week, maybe every other, I give Al a text, or an email that asks what seams to be a question. When we first met, I remember the question started as, "Will you be heading down to Flanagans in Malvern tonight, and will you need a ride?". After our relationship grew a little bit, the question was shortened to, "What time am I picking you up to head to the bar?. Today, a simple, "Boat?" will suffice. Indeed within the next few weeks i'm sure the question mark will disappear.
I met Al about 2 1/2 years ago when one of my sales reps sold a free poker game into the Boathouse in Malvern. The one in Conshohoken was one of our first games, and it took us a year to get the one in Malvern. The Malvern bar is placed in an area surrounded by corporate centers and therefore not really the type of bar that stays open until 2am. We had success there with an average of about 45 players a night. Not our best bar, but an average one. The games usually ran about 4 hours and the manager didn't like to stick around after 11pm, so it eventually went away.
I went there one night, as it was my policy to personally visit everyone of our clients, and saw this hippy, playing poker. The TD (tournament director) who worked for me introduced us. She introduced Al as Alcanthang. I am introduced to many a player while out at these games, and have forgotten more than the ones I remember. Just the nature of the game. But Al was different.
I remember he won the game that night. I also remember being told that Al was a blogger, which, at that point meant nothing to me. But he seemed like a very cool dude, who knew some people I knew and , hell, he played poker.
Later that year I got a call from Al asking a favor from me to provide some poker tables and such to host an event he was having at the Boat. It was a charity event for a friend who's kid had a disease, (MS or MD), and requested if we could do something. He gave me the details and I couldn't get over the fact that all of these people were coming Malvern, PA because one guy had requested their support for this one little event.
Gavin Smith came, as did Brandon Schaeffer, and a bunch of other bloggers. I specifically remember Bobby Bracelet (as he was introduced to me), Falstaff, some other guy who I think was a sports reporter from NOLA... I also remember a women who was introduced to me. i extended my hand, and she replied, I don't do handshakes, I hug. Don't remember her name, but I think it was Kat, as Al remembers it. (which I don't trust as he was merrily taking part in his normal brand of libations that day, expectedly so.)
Anyway, after that little gathering, I spoke to Al about the online tour. I was in the middle of negotiations with a very popular site, for a very considerable amount of money. Things were going to be busting, and I needed someone who I could trust, and someone who "knew" things in the online world.
It was then mentioned to me by some very important people that we should be looking at the bloggers. (again, a familiar term to me, but yet still unknown). Then I remembered Al being a blogger.
Fast forward into December of 2006... The UIGEA had been passed, and all deals with any site that we were working on had gone out the window. I was pissed. Everyone was pissed. I was less than 2 weeks away from flying to london and picking up a check. A very large check. And it wasn't just that. I had spent a better part of 8 months preparing for this deal, setting it up, writing business plans, spending resources on traveling to meetings, upgrading site capabilities, marketing and brand improvements, etc...
When I told Al what the deal was he said.. "heh" You got runnered. After countless conversations with partners, mentors, investors, etc, and numerous explanations, and advice on what to do next, Al's was the one I understood the most. That is Al.
We leased a warehouse that had a couple of offices in it for our place of business. It was named "HQ", and its primary purpose was a friday night poker room. Al was invited on many occasions. I think everytime he showed, he walked out wiht at least 3 buyins. The game was pretty sick. We called it a .50/1 game but at the end of the night there was never less than 2k on the table. Good times amongst friends, and Al was always asking for a seat, which I always made available.
I've seen Al play online (our secondary form of recreation at the boat) and live games. Both cash and tourny's. I know he likes to downplay his accomplishments and skills as a player, but the man can play. He's never as tight as you think he is, and he is never as loose as you expect him to be. The man can play.
I told Al sometime in December that I thought I wanted to start a blog. He emailed me the next day. In the subject line was "done". He set the whole thing up for me. Just one comment, and DONE, is what I got. I think I made a total of 5 posts up until July when I started getting into it.
So this goes out to recognize the guy that does all of this for all of us, without expecting anything for it.
That and I lost a bet to him last night at the bar... If I won he'd be blowing me on his blog today :)