The Boys From Brownsville Morphed Into Murder Incorporated

American Criminals

(The) Boys from Brownsville

They started out as punk kids looking to make a small score anyway they could. But the Boys from Brownsville advanced to being the right arm of Murder Incorporated, the most blood-thirsty organization in the history of America.

In the early 1920’s, the Shapiro brothers controlled the illegal activities in the Brownville section of Brooklyn with an iron fist. Meyer was the second oldest and he ran the show. Nothing was beneath Meyer, and he once claimed he owned fifteen brothels in Brownville, with no partners, except his brothers, to share in the proceeds.

“I’m the boss of Brownsville,” Meyer said to anyone who doubted his clout.

Irving was the oldest Shapiro brother; not as bright or as tough as Meyer, but still considered the second-in-charge. Willie was the youngest of the three, not too bright and not too tough; not a good combination in the means streets of Brownsville. Willie was basically considered a joke, and lucky to have been born into the Shapiro family.

Besides running broads, the Shapiros cornered the market in Brownsville on illegal booze, and illegal slot machines. To continue to operate untouched, Meyer was smart enough to pay tribute to the bigger mob bosses from the other parts of Brooklyn (Meyer didn’t consider them partners; just the cost of doing business).

“We got everything straightened out our way,” Meyer told his brothers. “As long as we stay in our own backyard, we’ve got nothing to worry about.”

Then a young street punk named Abe “Kid Twist” Reles began having ideas.

Reles’ father, Abraham, was an Austrian Jew; a humble man who had come to America to seek a better life. Upon his arrival in the “Mountain of Gold,” Abraham Reles supported his family by doing piece work in Manhattan’s Garment Center. Soon, he had saved enough money to start his own business: selling knishes on the streets of Brooklyn with his mobile stand, which Abraham Reles pushed from street corner to street corner, looking for the busiest spot.

Abe Reles was a stocky five-foot-two-inch menace, with the long and powerful hands of a six-footer, and he abhorred his father’s honorable way of life. Reles quit school after the eighth grade, and went to work as a go-fer for the Shapiros. Reles was used for the most menial of jobs; running errands and maybe sometimes keeping an eye on one of the many Shapiro-brothers-owned slot machines. One day, Reles took a bullet to his back while minding a Shapiro slot machine (a mere flesh wound). But this got Reles to thinking.

He told his childhood pal Martin “Buggsy” Goldstein, “Why do we have to take the left-overs?” Reles said. “We should cut a piece. The hell with those guys.”

(It was about this time that Reles took the nickname “Kid Twist,” in honor of a previous New York City Jewish mobster named Max “Kid Twist” Zwerbach, who was killed in front of a Coney Island dance hall in 1908.)

Goldstein was a follower and Reles was his pied piper. Whereas Reles was a tough runt who could kill with the best of them, the hulking Goldstein was the definition of street muscle. Reles snapped his fingers, and Goldstein jumped to attention and did what Reles told him to do. Reles decided that he and Goldstein should go into business for themselves. Nothing big; maybe a few slot machines, and a single house of prostitution for starters.

However, Reles knew the Shapiros had too many men on the streets, and that he needed to make alliances with other street toughs in order to bring his plans to fruition. Reles told Buggsy they should pay a little visit to Happy and the Dasher.

Harry “Happy” Maione and Frank “Dasher” Abbandando were two Italian good-for-nothings who headed the “Ocean Hill Hooligans,” a ruthless street gang who ran the bookmaking and loan-shaking operations in Ocean Hill, Brooklyn, which was adjacent to Brownsville. Maione, the elder of the two, was the boss; Abbandando — his second-in-command.

“Dasher” got his nickname because he was been such a dashing baseball player for the Elmira Reformatory, where he had spent most of his youth. In fact, people said the hulking Abbandando could have been a hell-of-a professional baseball player if that had been his desire. The movie-star handsome Dasher also had a slight problem concerning woman; he liked to rape them. Years later, as he awaited his murder trial, Dasher admitted he had participated in dozens of rapes, but he denied one rape in particular.

“That one didn’t count,” Dasher said. “I married her later.”

Dasher’s usual mode of murder was the ice pick because, “It didn’t make too much noise.” But Dasher did admit you had to hold your hand over the victim’s mouth while inserting the icepick, to muffle any screams that might be imminent.

Happy Maione, on the other hand, was short and mean, with beady eyes that seemed to bore a hole into the forehead of the person he was berating. In fact, Happy was called “Happy” because a smile rarely crossed his protruding lips. Once, in order to kill someone who Murder Incorporated said needed to be killed, the slender Maione dressed up like a sexy woman and knocked on the apartment door of his mark (after removing the light bulb in the hallway, of course). The sucker eyed what he thought was an attractive dame in the peephole of his door (for once Maione was smiling; his fake-eye-lashed eyes were fluttering too). As a result, the mark opened the door with the glee of a schoolboy panting for his first date. As soon as the door flung open, Maione and his accomplice filled the victim with several bullet holes, rendering him quite dead.

Abe Reles figured mean thugs like Happy and the Dasher would be swell partners in a takeover of the Brownsville rackets. He approached the Dasher first.

“How about we get together for a little booking?” Reles told the Dasher. “We could handle some betting; you here, and me and Buggsy in Brownsville.”

The Dasher was not too sure this was the right thing to do.

“I don’t know. Me and Happy are okay here,” the Dasher said. “And what about those Shapiros? They won’t like it.”

“Let me worry about those bums,” Reles said. “I’m for Kid Reles from here on in.”

Reles set up a meeting between himself and Buggsy, and Happy and the Dasher. Reles got right to the point.

“Those bums can be taken,” Reles told Happy.

Happy was willing to listen, but was not too eager to join forces.

“What’s on your mind?” Happy said.

“Listen, if we put a mob together we could take everything over,” Reles said.

Happy was still unconvinced. He said, “Look, I’m the boss of Ocean Hill, and I get left alone. Why should I stick my neck out?”

“You throw in with us, and we all move in,” Reles said.

“Where do I fit in if I do?” Happy said.

“Simple,” Reles said. “We take care of the Shapiros; then we take over. Everything goes into the pot. Brownsville, East New York, Ocean Hill – everything. Then we cut down the middle.”

Happy, who secretly hated Reles (and he knew deep inside Reles hated Happy too), told Reles he’d think about it. Happy then approached his mentor Louis Capone about Reles’ proposition. Capone (no relation to Al Capone) was ostensibly a Brooklyn restaurateur, but was in fact a big-time gangster with close ties to Mafioso like Joe “Adonis” Doto, and Albert “The Lord High Executioner” Anastasia. Capone was knee-deep in loan-sharking and was also a force in several labor union rackets too.

New York City District Attorney William O’Dwyer told the New York Times that, “Capone had his fingers dipped in every dirty crime committed by the murder syndicate (Murder Incorporated, which we’ll get to later in this book). He was the contact between lesser lights like Reles, Straus, Maione and Goldstein, and bosses like Anastasia and Buchalter (Louie Lepke). But he was not a real head of the mob.”

Happy figured if Capone gave his blessing for a marriage between Happy and Reles, it must be the right thing to do. So Happy laid out Reles’ plan to Capone.

Without hesitation, Capone told Happy. “It sounds real good, Hap.”

Capone even convinced Happy to take in another Capone protégé, Vito Gurino, a five foot-six-inch, 265-pound ox, who could kill as easy as eating a meatball sandwich. This gave the Reles-Maione crew one more valuable assassin in their war against the Shapiros.

So the alliance was made, and Abe Reles’ and Happy Maione’s gangs merged into one formidable group of killers. The Shapiros had a few proficient gunslingers of their own, but with the addition of his new torpedoes, the tide seemed to be turning in Reles’ favor.

Word spread quickly around Brownsville about Reles and Maione’s ambitions, and Meyer Shapiro was not too happy.

“Brownsville belongs to us,” Meyer told his brothers. “Nobody moves in here.”

Reles first order of business was to approach a young punk named Joey Silvers (Silverstein), who was one of the dupes the Shapiros used for their small stuff. Reles paid Silvers, and he paid him well, to tip off Reles whenever they was an opportunity to ambush the Shapiros, and kill all three brothers in one place at one time. Soon, Silvers contacted Reles and told him that all three Shapiros were holed up in a gambling house, and would be leaving shortly, making them naked to a sneak attack.

Not having time to assemble the rest of the crew, Reles and Buggsy brought along a new confederate named George DeFeo. When they arrived at the gambling house, sure enough, the Shapiros’ cars was parked right out front. Reles’ plan was to ice pick the tires, and then nail the Shapiros as they approached their car. But before Reles could even pull out the icepick, the Shapiros opened fire from the safety of the house. Buggsy took a bullet in his nose, and Reles absorbed another one in his stomach. DeFeo was shot dead instantly.

Reles and Buggsy somehow made it to safety, and with the help of a mobbed-up doctor, they slowly licked their wounds and began figuring out how to take out Silvers for his betrayal, along with the Shapiros.

However, Reles had underestimated the depravity of Meyer Shapiro.

One cool autumn night, Meyer Shapiro jumped into his jalopy and scanned the streets of Brownsville, looking to hurt Reles where it hurt most: below the belt. He spotted the pretty young girl while she was window shopping at a local clothing store. The girl was the 18-year-old girlfriend of Abe “Kid Twist” Reles.

Shapiro swerved his car to the curb, and before the girl knew what was happening, she was inside Shapiro’s car, kicking and screaming, but no match for a hardened thug like Shapiro.

Shapiro drove with one hand, and with his free hand he slapped and punched the girl into submission. Then he sped to a secluded area on the outskirts of Brownville and raped Abe Reles’ girlfriend. And if that wasn’t enough, as an added message, Shapiro pummeled the young girl’s face with both fists as if she were a man. When the girl’s face was a grotesque mask of blood, bumps, and bruises, Shapiro opened the passenger door and kicked her out onto the darkened street. She lay there for a while, then was able to drag herself to her feet and make it back to Brownsville. She told Reles what had happened, but her face told everything.

Reles was incensed. Women were off limits.

Reles slowly plotted his revenge.

Reles’ first order of business was to recruit another strong-arm for his crew. He picked a dilly in Harry “Pittsburgh Phil” Strauss, destined to be the most deranged killer in the history of Brownsville, if not in the entire United States of America. Strauss, who had never been to Pittsburgh (he just liked the name), was called “Pep” by his friends. It was later said Strauss liked committing murder so much (it was reported he killed anywhere from one hundred to five hundred people), he often volunteered for murder contracts because, as District Attorney William O’Dwyer once said, “Just for the lust to kill.”

Strauss was a connoisseur in the art of killing. He used whatever weapon available, but his favorites were the ice pick (like his compatriot Dasher), and a length of rope, which Strauss used to truss up his victims from ankles to throat, and let them linger there as he watched them strangle themselves to death.

Reles later said, “When we got Pep it was like we put on a whole new troupe.”

Reles also recruited a nasty Irishman killer named “Blue Jaw” Magoon, who got his moniker from the fact that he had a five o’clock shadow all day long.

Healed from his wounds, Reles called for a meeting with Happy and both crews.

“Now what happens?” Happy said.

“Well, the Shapiros have to be hit,” Reles said. “We can’t just muscle them out; they got to go. And remember, the first one is Meyer. I got something to square him for.”

The Shapiros knew they were hunted men, but they were lucky that Reles and his crew couldn’t hit the side of a barn with a shotgun at ten paces. For the next year, Reles and his boys stalked the streets of Brownville looking for the Shapiros, but especially Meyer Shapiro. They spotted Meyer eighteen times, and eighteen times their bullets missed their mark. On the nineteenth try, Reles finally wounded Shapiro and two innocent bystanders, but the wound was superficial and Meyer Shapiro escaped, still very much alive.

In early July of 1931, Irving Shapiro convinced Meyer that maybe they should relax and take a ride to Monticello in the Catskill Mountains for the day to visit old pal Jack Siegal, who was on trial for running illegal slot machines.

“You look a little jumpy, Meyer” Irv said. “We can run up and see if we can do anything for Jack. The ride will do you good.”

Since he was tired of being a clay pigeon for Reles’ inept shooting gallery, Meyer agreed to take the day off and breathe in some of that clean country air.

By this time, Abe Reles had his long tentacles throughout Brownville, and his ears firmly to the ground. Minutes after Irv and Meyer Shapiro left town, Reles knew about their country excursion. He quickly assembled his crew and presented his plan.

“There’s a card game at the Democratic Club on Sheffield Avenue tonight,” Reles said. “Those rats are sure to be back for it. They figure to leave Monticello around four-five o’clock. That would get them down here about eight. They’ll eat and be at the club say, ten-eleven o’clock. We’ll be there when they come out.”

Reles was almost exact in his calculations. At about 1 a.m., with Reles and his crew loaded for bear outside, Irv and Meyer Shapiro exited the Democratic Club and headed for their cars. The only problem was, about a dozen other card players exited at the same time, forming a shield around the Shapiro brothers. Before Reles and his crew could get off a shot, the Shapiro brother were safely in their car, and gone.

Reles was steaming mad, but he would not be deterred.

“Quick, over to their house,” Reles told his crew. “They’ll head there.”

Reles and his men sped over to 691 Blake Avenue; the apartment building where the Shapiros lived. The Shapiros’ car was nowhere in sight.

“Good, we beat them here,” Reles said. “Now we go in the hall and wait. Remember, Meyer goes first.”

They snuck into the hallway of the apartment building, removed the over-head light bulb, and waited in the dark. Luckily, no other residents entered the apartment building, and luckily for Meyer Shapiro, he had decided he needed a good rubdown at a nearby bath house.

“I don’t think I’ll go home,” Meyer told Irv in the car. “I’m still jumpy. Drop me off at the Cleveland Baths. I’ll stay there overnight. Maybe it will loosen me up.”

Irv Shapiro did as his brother requested, and after he parked his car near the entrance to his apartment building, Irv entered the darkened vestibule. Reles hesitated, realizing it was Irv and not Meyer Shapiro, whom he wanted badly. But the rest of his crew commenced firing. When the smoke cleared, Irving Shapiro, hit eighteen times, and was splattered dead on the tiled floor.

Scratch Shapiro brother number one.

Nine days later, on July 19, 1931, Meyer Shapiro was strolling down Church Avenue and East 58th Street in the East New York section of Brooklyn, when a dark sedan pulled up next to him and three gunman started firing. Shapiro jumped into his car and tried to escape, with the sedan chasing after him.

Policeman Harold Schreck was driving nearby when he heard gunfire. He sped to where the shots had come from, and he spotted the dark sedan careening straight toward him. Not seeing Shapiro speeding away for his life, Policeman Schreck ordered the driver of the sedan to pull over, but the sedan whizzed past him. Policeman Schreck made a U-turn and gave case, one hand driving, and the other hand firing his gun at the speeding sedan. Schreck soon was joined by another police car occupied by policemen Joe Fleming and Harry Phelps. The two police cars chased the sedan onto the street car tracks. The sedan skidded all over the road, almost tipping over several times, but it always regained its balance. At one point, Policeman Schreck spotted a pistol being flung from the car into an empty lot on Sutter Avenue.

The chase ended at Livonia and Howard Avenues, where the three occupants sprung from the car and tried to flee on foot. The cops jumped out of their two cars and caught all three men before they could get very far. The three men turned out to be Abe Reles, Harry Strauss, and Dasher Abbandando, who had obviously lost his skill at “dashing.” The cops also found a sawed-off shotgun near the sedan (which had been stolen six days earlier at the corner of Pitkin and Stone). It was obvious the hot shotgun had recently been discharged.

The three thugs were arrested, but they refused to talk. The police had information that Reles and his boys were “out to get” Meyer Shapiro, but Shapiro, only slightly wounded, went into hiding. With no dead body, and no one to issue a complaint, Brooklyn District Attorney Geoghan was forced to let Reles and his men go.

That made it twenty times that Shapiro had survived a Reles-led attack.

As a consolation prize, a few days later, Reles and Happy Maione cornered Joey Silvers on a Brownville Street corner, and up close, they blew his head almost completely off his shoulders. But, Meyer Shapiro was still on the loose, with “Deadeye” Reles and his boys in hot pursuit.

Meyer Shapiro decided Brooklyn was too hot for him, so he holed up in Manhattan where he thought he was safe. And he was – for a while.

While in Manhattan, Shapiro, his gang shrinking quickly, figured maybe he could establish himself in Manhattan; a little loansharking, a few slot machines, and maybe even little speakeasy which he could call his own. While attempting to set up shop in Manhattan, Shapiro exposed himself to the underworld element; not a smart thing to do for a man with a bull’s eye on his forehead.

On September, 17, Shapiro stopped in a Manhattan speakeasy for a drink. It’s not clear who spotted him, but soon Kid Twist, Happy, and Buggsy (sounds like three of the seven dwarfs) abducted Shapiro and took him to a Lower East Side cellar located at 7 Manhattan Avenue. The next morning a newsboy found Shapiro’s body in that cellar. He had been shot once behind the left ear at extremely close range, which was verified by deep powder burns where the bullet had entered Shapiro’s skull.

Scratch Shapiro brother number two.

As was his plan, Reles fired the fatal shot himself, and even Reles couldn’t miss with his gun pressed up against Shapiro’s head.

Now all that was left of the Shapiro gang was Willie Shapiro, who had been making noise that he was out to get Reles and his crew, despite the fact that Willie had all but disappeared from the streets of Brooklyn.

Willie Shapiro was considered the weakest of the Shapiro brothers and not a top priority on the Boys from Brownsville’s list of things to do. Reles and Maione were too busy strengthening their organization to put much effort in locating Willie, who by this time had embarked on a career as a prize fighter, and not a very good one at that.

By 1934, Willie Shapiro knew he was dead in the water if he insisted on going after the men who had killed his two brothers. He told his sister Rose, “What’s the use? I can’t make it alone. I’m out of the rackets. I’m going to forget about those bums.”

It turned out that Willie had waited too long to announce his retirement from a life of crime. Although Reles and his boys were not actively seeking Willie, he was still unfinished business, and Reles hated unfinished business

On July, 18, 1934, the day after Willie had spoken to his sister Rose, Vito Gurino met Reles and Strauss on a Brownsville street corner. He told them, “I just spotted Willie going into a place near Herkimer. You know, we’ve got nothing to do now (meaning killing). Why don’t we take him tonight and be done with it?”

Reles and Strauss agreed with Gurino’s assessment, and a few hours later, they abducted Willie from a Brownsville bar and brought him to the basement of a bar and grill on Rockaway Avenue that Gurino owned with Happy Maione and Happy’s brother-in-law Joe Daddonna. In the basement working over Willie were the hulking Gurino, Happy, Strauss, and the Dasher. The beating was most brutal, and when Willie was finally rendered unconscious, Happy put a stop to the festivities; at least for a while.

“This bum is done for,” Happy said.

That was the cue for Strauss to perform his neat rope trick. “Pittsburgh Phil” trussed up Willie like a Thanksgiving turkey; then watched Willie’s dance of death. When Willie stopped struggling and fell limp, signaling he had choked himself to death, the killers stuffed Willie into a laundry bag, to make it easier to transport his body. They flung the laundry bag into the trunk of their car and drove to the sand dunes, in a secluded area in Canarsie Flats. They dumped the laundry bag with Willie onto the sand, and commenced digging.

Shortly after, a Canarsie resident, who was having trouble sleeping, decided to go for a stroll near the sand dunes. Suddenly, he was startled when he thought he detected movement on top of one of the sand dunes. He walked closer and he spotted four men digging in the sand. Suddenly, one of the men lifted his head and spotted the witness. It was Happy and he yelled, “Somebody made us.”

The four men sprinted to a waiting car and sped back to Brownsville, presumably to have a celebratory meal in the bar and grill on Rockaway Avenue.

The witness ran over to where the men had been digging and he spotted the laundry bag in the half-dug hole. He bent down, pulled the top of the bag open, and there was Willie, all trussed up, and not looking to good. The man ran to the local police station, and when the police arrived soon after, Willie Shapiro was indeed dead.

Scratch Shapiro brother number three.

Willie’s body was brought to the Medical Examiner, who discovered sand in Willie’s lungs, meaning Willie had been buried alive.

With Louis Capone as the intermediary to keep peace between Reles and Happy, the Boys from Brownsville thrived. When Albert Anastasia needed someone murdered, he relayed this information to Capone, who gave the contract to Reles and Maione, who then used their stable of killers, including themselves, to do the dirty deeds.

However, the Boys from Brownsville’s main source of income was shylocking (loaning money out at usurious rates), bookmaking (taking illegals bets on sporting events), and floating craps (dice) games. The “floating” craps games took place on street corners, and in vacant lots. The more expensive games were run in car garages, or in any building that was vacant for the night.

The shylocking and bookmaking businesses were run from the backroom of a Brownsville candy store called “Midnight Rose’s.” The store was owned by a cranky old lady named Rose, who was the mother of one of the minor members of the crew, known only as the Dapper. Rose was hassled several times by the law over the type of people who frequented her establishment.

“Why do you let hoodlums hang out in your store?” she was asked by detectives.

“Why don’t the police keep them out?” she said. “Can I help it who comes into my store?”

One she was asked by the police if she knew anyone named “Pittsburgh Phil.”

“Pittsburgh, Chicago, San Francisco… what do I know about them?” she said. “I was never out of Brooklyn in my life. All I know is I got ‘syracuse’ veins. I’m a sick woman.”

It was stated in a 1942 corruption report to New York Governor Herbert Lehman by Special Assistant Attorney John Harlan, that in 1938 alone, more than $400,000 dollars in loans were handled by Midnight Rose herself.

There was also a Brownsville Boys’ “stolen-car department,” run by the younger members, who were basically go-fers for Reles, Happy Maione, Pittsburgh Phil, and the rest of the higher-ups. Teenagers like Dukey Maffetore and Pretty Levine stole cars on a regular basis, as did “Blue Jaw” Magoon, and stolen-car specialist Sholem Bernstein. Some cars were broken down and sold as parts, but most were used as transportation in murder contracts, which we will discuss later in this book under “Murder Incorporated,” a syndicate of killers which tapped the Brownsville Boys as their most efficient torpedoes.

It was around the time of the Willie Shapiro murder that the Brownsville Boys moved up in stature in the National Crime Syndicate, which included Italians Lucky Luciano, Frank Costello, and Joe “Adonis” Doto, and Jewish gangsters Meyer Lansky, Bugsy Siegel, Louis Lepke Buchalter, and Buchalter’s partner Jacob “Gurah” Shapiro. Through intermediary Louis Capone, the Brownsville Boys were given numerous murder contracts, which culminated in the Brownsville Boys being given more territories in Brooklyn in which to run their rackets.

There is no doubt that the Brownsville Boys elimination of the Shapiro brothers spurred their transition from strictly small-timers into the major leagues of organized crime.

Lucky In Love – Lucky In Marriage 777 The Most Popular Wedding Date In Years

Wedding Planning

Lucky in Love – Lucky in Marriage
777 the Most Popular Wedding Date in Years

Choosing Special Wedding Dates

Since ancient days, in many cultures, brides and grooms chose their wedding date very carefully. Some days have always been preferred over others.

Even today in the USA, certain dates are considered more popular than others. Traditionally Labor Day, Memorial Day, the 4th of July, the Christmas holiday season and The thanksgiving weekend are chosen most often for wedding celebrations.

This year there is a date that tops all of them. In fact some consider it a phenomenon. This special day is July 7, 2007 or 777.

We have interviewed both, engaged couples who chose this as their wedding date and wedding vendors, professionals and service providers hired by them.

Reasons for Choosing July 7. 2007 as a Wedding Date

Some of the reasons given us by the couples were:

  • Having found the loves of their life, the couples feel lucky. Adding 777 to the occasion is the ultimate jackpot.
  • To have their life long commitment blessed with luck. As one couple iterated:”you can never have too much luck.”
  • Many individuals and couples consider number 7 their favorite number.
  • Quite a few couples cited the Biblical reverence of number 7. The most common reference was to the 7 days of creation and that God blessed and rested on the 7th day, so that still today our week contains 7 days. The other popular reference was to the prayer of the Lord having 7 petitions.
  • Of great importance was also the fact that the 7th of July falls on a saturday so close to The 4th of July holiday allowing for a weekend long enough for guests from far away not to have to rush home. A weekend long enough for relaxing, un-hurried destination weddings.
  • Some of those we interviewed said that they just liked the way 777 looks on their invitations, that it sounds nice and that it offers great wedding theme possibilities.
  • All, with no exception liked the fact that the date is easy to remember. I can certainly identify with this way of thinking. When I chose to get married on the 4th of July, I considered that the date is easy to remember, we’ll be off from work and that every year the entire country will help us celebrate.

    What Wedding Vendors, Professionals and Service Providers Say About July 7. 2007 as a Wedding Date

    All Wedding Vendors, Professionals and Service Providers, with no exception feel very lucky. They were booked early, some over 2 years ago. Of those who can accommodate more than one wedding on that day, the majority already have waiting lists and we are only in March.

    Realizing the popularity of the date, quite a few raised their standard fees. They figured that with so many couples vying for the date, they’ll get top dollar plus. Brides and grooms are aware of the higher prices and of the competition for the 777 wedding date and are willing to pay the price to secure it.

    We spoke with hotels and halls and all are filled. Las Vegas the wedding capital of the world has been sold out for quite some time as have other cities with casinos.

    If you are a couple, in need of a wedding site, note that 777 is in the summer and consider the following options:

  • A destination wedding in a rural setting or abroad
  • A wedding in a home
  • A wedding in a park
  • A wedding on a beach
  • A wedding in a university hall
  • A wedding at a museum that offers such a facility
  • A wedding on a private estate
  • A wedding at a bed and breakfast
  • A wedding at sea, on a yacht or boat.
  • Do you have any ideas to share with us?

    What if you can not find a caterer?
  • Contact a restaurant
  • Summon your family and friends and start cooking and freezing.
  • Have a picnic reception
  • Have a pot luck reception

    OFFICIANTS who offer a ceremony venue whom we interviewed, suggested that they’ll perform one ceremony every 45 minutes or an hour until quite late into the night.

    WEDDING PLANNERS have donned their thinking caps, coming up with ideas for 777 themes for their clients. Some ideas are:

  • Starting either the ceremony or the reception at 7:00pm
  • Having 7 instead of 8 guests per table,
  • Setting the tables in the hall in the shape of number 7
  • Having 7 different centerpieces – repeating if there are more than 7 tables
  • Having a 7 tier wedding cake or a wedding cake shaped like number 7
  • Having the wedding accessories embelished with eithr 777 or luck oriented decorations*
  • Using 3 number 7 jewelry cake top numerals
  • Having #7 on jewelry and engraveable gifts for the wedding attendants
  • Having 7 people in the wedding party
  • Having a 7 candle candalabra on the bridal table
  • giving out favors and decorating with luck related items such as:* 777, good luck charms, 4 leaf clover, horse shoes, rainbows, stars, lucky pennies in a shoe, preferable minted in a year with 7. How about Scratch or lottery tickets or Jersey # 7 of a favorite theme?
  • A few planners were asked to arrange a fun, “Las Vegas night” style reception. Most suggested that their clients must be sure that if they invited guests who are against gambling, they may find objectionable. So, know your guests before you plan a casino like reception.

    I have interviewed a planner who really got inspired by the date.

    She arranged that her clients will

  • have a hotel room with a number 7 on the door.
  • Both the limo for the wedding day and the rental car for the 7 day honeymoon have number 7 on their license plates.
  • She secured – reserved parking spot number 7 for them.

    July 7. 2007 as a Wedding Date
    Flexibility and the Creative Brides and Grooms

    A few of the couples we interviewed, who secured 777 as their wedding date and who are flexible had rather creative ideas.

    The two that were really unique were by a bride and groom who were willing to SELL their wedding day complete with all the arrangements.

    They said that they will be glad to change their wedding date for a fee.

    Another couple familiar with the tradition in some countries of ‘Community Weddings’ is willing to have a shared wedding providing the other bride and groom will pick up the tab for the agreed upon flowers, decorations and entertainment. “This,” said the bride “will save us money but will not add to the wedding costs the other brides and grooms. Either way they’ll have to pay for flowers, decorations and entertainment.”
    The hall will be divided in such a way that the guests of each wedding will be separated from the other.

    A few couples seem interested, in fact they believe that it will be a unique wedding experience and will leave lasting fun memories for both couples.

    So, Why, is this Date or the Combination of Numbers

    So Special and Sought After?

    Since ancient times, the number 7 was revered and considered LUCKY by most all societies and in many fields such as: Religion, Ethics, Mathematics, Spiritualizm, Numerology, Geography, Astrology and Philosophy.

    Following are but a few samples

  • The bible Reveres the number 7 many times it can easily be considered the favorite.
  • Since the time of the ancient world, people revered the
  • 7 sacred planets.
  • The Seven Seas
  • The seven virtues
  • The seven Stars – planets
  • Today, the 777 Ultimate Jackpot.
  • and don’t forget the Seventh Heaven where brides and grooms are on their wedding day.

    Copyrights © 2007 All Rights Reserved Nily Glaser, A-wedding Day and Gan Publishing

    BYLINE

    Copyrights © 2007 All Rights Reserved Nily Glaser,

    Nily Glaser is the CEO of A-wedding Day

    A-wedding Day is a very popular Wedding Resource and Information Center, and a discount shopping

    mall for wedding gifts, supplies and bridal accessories.

  • Top 5 Attractions Near Ninoy Aquino International Airport

    Flight delays are stressful especially in a city like Manila. But don’t panic. Just book a room at a hotel in Parañaque City, Philippines, Makati or Pasay. Here, you check out the different sites and attractions south of Manila, which will keep you entertained during a long layover or while waiting for a better-timed flight.

    Fortunately, there are many places near the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) that you could visit to keep you engaged while you are grounded.

    Casino Filipino

    This government-owned amusement and gaming center is located just a few minutes from NAIA’s Terminal 1 in Parañaque City.

    Aside from the nightly entertainment and gambling, this is also a good place to dine, shop, party, and watch world-class events. Casino Filipino has something for people of all ages and persuasions.

    Resorts World Manila

    This commercial, residential, and entertainment complex is just a 10 minute-drive from NAIA. Found here are the finest casinos, hotels, and resorts in Parañaque City. This upscale place is mostly visited by the rich and famous, but people from all walks of life can also enjoy the entertainment, dining, and designer shops here. It is also a notable nightspot because of its high-profile clubs and performers.

    Villamor Golf Club

    Take advantage of the long wait and have fun at Villamor Golf Club. This country club is just a 12-minute ride via cab from the airport. While waiting for things to settle in NAIA, hang out with your friends or family. It has fine facilities, friendly caddies, restaurant, coffee shop, lounges, and even a massage area.

    SM Mall Of Asia

    Hail a taxi and after a 15 minutes you’d have reached the Philippines’ 2nd-and Asia’s 3rd-largest shopping center. It has a land area of 42 hectares and houses hundreds of stores. Everything that you could wish for in a shopping mall is here: restaurants, shops, cinema, activity centers, entertainment, event, sports arena, and concert halls. During weekends, people are treated to an amazing fireworks display. If you get tired of exploring the 42 hectare-property, you’ll be glad that you’ve booked accommodations in Parañaque City that’s just a cab ride away.

    Duty Free Philippines

    For people who are stressed out, retail therapy is always a good pick-me-upper. There’s no other place in the city where it’s fun to spend cash on ‘comfort buys’ than the popular Duty Free stores. There is a Duty Free outlet store inside NAIA, but you won’t regret the 9-minute cab ride to the bigger store. It is packed with designer brands and other products and goods that are usually found in the US and Europe. There’s a good chance that you will forget about your traveling woes and extend your stay at your chosen hotel in Parañaque City, Philippines, or other nearby cities when you see how affordable it is to shop here.

    World Series of Poker (WSOP) Top 40 Moments

    As the 40th World Series of Poker dawns upon us, we take time to look through forty of the tournaments defining moments.

    40. The Curse of the 90 year-old man.

    To the untrained eye, Victor Goulding is your regular 90 year-old guy. At the 2005 Main Event, he was actually given a ten-minute penalty for cursing at the table. British sweetheart Vicky Coren was sat next to the gentleman, although we can’t tell for sure if she was the cause of the senior citizen’s aberration.

    39. Hellmuth Blow Ups

    There’s the one where he calls the guy an idiot, or the time when he accuses a fellow player of being unable to spell ‘poker’, yet alone play it. With simply too many nuggets to choose from, WPT Magazine has opted to bunch them all in one collective group. Good work, Phil.

    38. A Tricky Final Table

    Last years’s WSOP Player of the Year Erick Lindgren final tabled three events but chose the toughest of them all to pick up his first bracelet. The players he had to dodge around to pick up the $5,000 Mixed Hold’em title included Justin Bonomo, Andrew Robl, Roland de Wolfe, David ‘Chino’ Rheem, Howard Lederer, David Williams, Pat Pezzin and Isaac Haxton. Easy.

    37. Ante Depressants

    In one of the more heated moments of WSOP history, Jeff Lisandro defending accusations made by Prahlad Friedman over not posting a $5,000 ante. Video cameras showed the Australian to be in the right, also capturing what became a decidedly heated ‘discussion’ between the two players.

    36. Iranian Invades America

    Mansour Matloubi becomes the first non-American Main Event winner in 1990 before final tabling again in 1993. He was eliminated in fourth place by eventual winner Jim Bechel, denying the poker world another two-time champion.

    35. A Glimmer of Hope Against Gold

    Coming to the final table of the 2006 World Series, many pinned their hopes on the remaining professional, Allen Cunningham. Contending with the blueberry eating steam train that was Jamie Gold, there was a glimmer of hope when Cunningham picked off a Gold bluff with just Ace-high. It wasn’t to be though, the Full Tilt pro finishing in 4th.

    34. The Frankly Bizarre…

    There can be no denying that the WSOP Main Event attracts all sorts. If it’s not Hevad Khan wielding his chair and dancing like a Red Bull fuelled Baloo or Joe Sebok turning up dressed as Batman’s sidekick, Robin (then a diaper-wearing bear, then Superman…), there’s always someone dressing up like a goofball. There’s also Phil Laak spending the day as an old man. The mind truly boggles.

    33. Lederer Wins Bracelet…Eventually

    We can’t figure out what took him so long, but Howard Lederer finally broke his WSOP bracelet voodoo when he won the $5,000 Limit Omaha event in 2000. The number of final tables he’d made before without winning the cheese? Twelve.

    32. Las Vegas Pays Its Respects to Chip Reese

    Poker lost one of its brightest lights in December 2007 when David ‘Chip’ Reese passed away. With every player queuing to pay homage to the man Doyle Brunson declared ‘the best player I’d ever played with’, the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E tournament was dedicated to the man who won the title in its inaugural year. The move was a class act; much like Chip himself.

    31. Poker is So Rigged…

    If you’ve ever wanted to throw your laptop into the pool after taking one of those bad beats, spare a thought for Harman and Hudson who had to endure a spanking from the fickle mistress called Fate:

    Jennifer Harman vs. Corey Zeidman.

    Harman’s raise with QQ is called by the Zeidman’s 9d-8d and one other. The chilly Ts-Jd-Qh flop saw Zeidman flop a straight and Harman top set. The diminutive lady pulled ahead on the Td, but the brutal one outer came when the dealer popped the 7d on the river. Ouch.

    Oliver Hudson vs. Sammy Farha.

    Stump up $10,000. Sit down, look down at pocket tens. Reraise the open from Sammy Farha, flop a full house. Slowplay, get your money in, realize you’ve been cold decked by A-T on the A-A-T flop, pick up your coat and leave. Thank you and goodnight.

    30. 2005 – The Original ‘Year of the Pro’

    Before all this hoo-ha about the ‘Year of the Pro’ last year, there was another year when the pro showed what they’re made of. 2005 saw bracelets for Allen Cunningham, Josh Arieh, Erik Seidel, TJ Cloutier, Barry Greenstein, Todd Brunson, Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan, Phil Ivey, Mark Seif, Willie Tann…and Jennifer Tilly.

    29. “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!”

    Joe Hachem: a thoroughly nice guy and a wonderful ambassador for poker, but strewth – does he have some noisy fans! The 2005 Main Event king had a cheering contingent more akin to a soccer game terrace, making the final table at the Rio a true carnival.

    28. Cloutier The Bridesmaid Once More

    TJ Cloutier is one of the most winningest poker players of all time, but one nut he’s been unable to crack is the $10,000 buy-in Main Event. He’s come second twice; first in 1985 (losing to Bill Smith) and then, more famously, against Chris ‘Jesus’ Ferguson in 2000, when Ferguson’s A-9 hit a miracle nine on the river to outdraw T.J.’s A-Q.

    27. Annie Duke Wins 2004 Tournament of Champions

    She might have lost to Joan Rivers in Celebrity Apprentice (you can stop booing now), but Annie Duke did have her moment in the limelight when she won the WSOP Tournament of Champions in 2004. Once again, she was at the center of some compelling television, including the moment she knocked out big brother Howard Lederer in third place. Cold hearted or what!?

    26. Hollywood Hits Sin City

    The stars turn out in earnest for the summer of mayhem in Las Vegas, with Oliver Hudson popping in very briefly (see no. 31), Jennifer Tilly picking up a bracelet, and the likes of Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Tobey Maguire playing the game to a very competitive level. Anything which brings Shannon Elizabeth to the poker tables can’t be bad, right?

    25. You Couldn’t Write About It…

    Well, you can if you’re James McManus. Heading to the Series in 2000 to write a piece for a magazine, the journalist was soon caught in the trapping of Las Vegas and ended up blowing his advance on qualifying for the Main Event. He got in and ended up final tabling. The whole story has been immortalized in ‘Positively Fifth Street’ and is well worth an afternoon of anyone’s time.

    24. Demidov Goes Transatlantic.

    After booking his place in the November Nine, Ivan Demidov decided one Main Event final table that year was not enough. Off to London he went, seeking to continue his good form at the World Series of Poker Europe. He eventually finished in third behind fellow Muscovite Stanislav Alekhin and champion John Juanda. The press relations dream began and Demidov came one step closer in Las Vegas before falling to the hands of Peter Eastgate heads-up.

    23. Fossilman Fights to Retain the Crown.

    With field sizes as huge as they are in the modern game, many believe Johnny Chan’s back-to-back wins in ’87 and ’88 will never be repeated. The sceptics had to hold their breath for five days though as Greg Raymer made it to the final four tables in 2005, ultimately busting in 25th.

    22. Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

    Robert Varkonyi’s 2002 victory was memorable not only for the unlikely victory nature of his $2m inheritance but also the bragging of Phil Hellmuth, which would eventually see him bald-headed. While commentating on the conclusion of the event, Phil Hellmuth claimed that should Varkonyi emerge victorious, he’d let the New Yorker shave his head. All thoughts of money disappeared and Varkonyi got the clippers out to leave The Poker Brat a slaphead.

    21. The Tears of a Clown

    Love him or hate him, there’s no denying that Mike Matusow is one of the most consistent Main Event players of the last 10 years. 2004 saw a fierce rivalry between ‘The Mouth’ and eventual winner Greg Raymer but it was the A-Q of Ed Foster which outdrew Matusow’s A-K to send the pro blubbing to the rail. Bad beats are part of the game, but you almost wish Mike could get lucky one time.

    20. Internet Geeks Attack!

    The 2006 World Series was the year which announced the arrival of the internet kids on the live scene, with Scott Clements, Brandon Cantu, William Chen and Eric Froehlich all taking the ‘fearsome online player’ moniker and converting it into ‘bracelet-winning pro’.

    19. Barbara Enright – Doin’ It For The Ladies

    While Dan Harrington was busy winning the Main Event in 1995, many dothed their cap to Barbara Enright who had become the first woman to reach the final table of The Big One. Helping to reinforce a well-known fact (women never, ever get their money in without the best of it), Enright’s run at the bracelet was halted when her pocket eights were outdrawn by 6-3s, eliminating the Hall of Famer in fifth. Men are such fish.

    18. Galfond The Wizard

    Another internet whizz-kid who has since become a recognized face away from his computer monitor is Phil Galfond. He picked up the first bracelet during the ’08 series at a fearsome $5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha w/ Rebuys final table that had railbirds clamouring. The veritable ‘who’s who’ included Phil Hellmuth, Daniel Negreanu, John Juanda, Kirill Gerasimov, Johnny Chan, David Benyamine as well as online players Brian ‘tsarrast’ Rast and Adam ‘houdini’ Hourani.

    17. The Original Poker ‘Young Gun’

    Some spotty-faced kid bowls into Las Vegas, glasses perched on the end of his nose, and ends up taking the biggest prize of them all from the backyard of the pros. No, we’re not talking about Phil Hellmuth but rather Bobby Baldwin, who beat Crandell Addington heads-up in a rather chilly set-over-set scenario. Bloody internet kids…

    16. A Chip and a Chair

    In the most infamous of poker comebacks, Jack Straus won the 1982 Main Event after inadvertently leaving a single $500 chip behind when moving all in. As he got up from the table he noticed the chip under a napkin. Tournament directors let him play on and the comeback saw the oft-heard ‘chip and a chair’ expression launched. Straus collected $520,000 for the win.

    15. 2008 – The Year of the Pro (Part Two)

    Nemad Medic, David Singer, Erick Lindgren, Mike Matusow, Vanessa Selbst, Daniel Negreanu, Max Pescatori, Kenny Tran, Barry Greenstein, Phil Galfond, John Phan, Rob Hollink, Dario Minieri, Layne Flack, David Benyamine, Scotty Nguyen, JC Tran, and Marty Smyth – all bracelet winners. Enough said.

    14. First Ever World Series of Poker

    Of course, none of this would have been possible if it wasn’t for the pioneering vision of Benny Binion. Inviting the six best players in the world to sit down and play at the Horseshoe was the birth of what has become the behemoth series that swarms around Vegas every summer. A little trivia for you; the first Series wasn’t decided by freezeout but by ballot, with Johnny Moss winning unanimously.

    13. Goodbye to Binions

    As the Series evolved, it became more and more apparent that the brainchild of Benny Binion would eventually outgrow its home. After 35 years of holding the event on home soil, July 2005 would the last time the Series would enter Binions, moving to the larger Rio just down the Strip.

    12. Gold-en Year

    2006 was a mind-blowing year for the Series; record-breaking prizepools, a Main Event champion who walked out with $12m (well, actually half of it) and over $156m handed out over the whole series. It seems only appropriate that the champ was called ‘Gold’, doesn’t it?

    11. Doyle Does The Double

    “Texas Dolly” may be the most recognisable poker player in the world but none of this would have happened unless Doyle had been the real deal. Brunson proved he was one of the all-time greats in 1976 and 1977 when he became the first player to successfully defend his World Series Main Event crown. As most of us know, the winning hand on both of the final hands was 10-2 offsuit, lending the hand to be named after Doyle himself.

    10. “You Call It’s Gonna Be All Over, Baby”

    Poker is not a card game with people, it is a people game with cards. So said Tom McEvoy, and while he’s not played a hand since 1994 while waiting for aces, the esteemed book author and WSOP Champion has a point.

    One person who understood the psychology of the moment perfectly was beer-swilling Scotty Nguyen, who managed to goad a call from Kevin McBride in what has become an immortalised moment in poker history. As the amateur debated whether to call what seemed like a possible bluff, Scotty stood up, beer in hand, and uttered, “you call, it’s gonna be all over baby”. McBride fell for the bait, calling for the chop that never was. Scotty showed him the Jd-9c for the better full house and hence collected the 1998 title.

    9. The November Nine Return

    When Harrahs announced there would be a three-month hiatus before the final table of the Main Event regrouped to play out for the $9m first prize, there were furrowed brows in many quarters. It would be a bit like halting the Super Bowl final at half time for a week, argued some. As with any untried format, scepticism sprung forth.

    By the time the final nine reconvened at the Rio, the atmosphere was electric. While the same cynics will argue the public relations efforts were saved by the final table appearance of Ivan Demidov at the WSOP Europe Main Event (see 29), the spectacle itself proved to be worth the wait. The hopes of the poker purists laid with Scot Montgomery and Chino Rheem, while the sentimental pined for a Kelly Kim comeback. It was Peter Eastgate who became king though, rounding off what had been an enthralling 2008 Main Event.

    8. Harrington Goes Deep Two Years Running

    While it’s not sound as impressive as winning two years in a row, there can be no underestimating Dan Harrington’s achievement in final tabling both the 2003 and 2004 Main Event. With fields of 839 and 2,576, ‘Action Dan’ finished third and fourth, collecting $2,150,000 – more than double the amount he netted for winning the whole thing in 1995. How times have changed.

    7. Stu Ungar – Back to Back Champion.

    They reckon he was the most naturally talent poker player of all time. Certainly without parallel in gin rummy, Ungar was literally forced to turn his hand to poker after the action dried up in his preferred game. The switch proved to be a wise one, and in 1980 the child-like Ungar ended up sitting opposite the Vegas legend that is Doyle Brunson heads-up for the lot – even more impressive when you consider he later claimed it was the first time he’d ever played Texas Hold’em.

    While many might have been intimidated playing Brunson, Ungar’s self-belief was second to none. The final hand saw Doyle flop two pair with A-7 on an A-7-2 rainbow flop, and Ungar make a speculative call with his gutshot draw. The 3 on the turn gave Stuey the nuts, his 5-4 only needing to avoid an ace or seven by the time the money went in on fourth street. The river paired the deuce, leaving Ungar as the fresh-faced WSOP champion.

    If Ungar’s win in 1980 had any suggestion of beginners luck about it, his repeat in 1981 left no one in doubt, defending his title after beating Perry Green heads-up. ‘The Kid’ had come to town and won – twice.

    6. The Bracelet Battle

    Some say that the measure of a great poker player is not necessarily the amount of money they’ve won, but the number of bracelets they have. Hellmuth, Brunson and Chan had led the way, with the triumvirate having nine apiece. In 2005 the race picked up pace, with Chan winning his tenth bracelet after beating Phil Laak heads-up in the $2,500 Pot Limit Hold’em bracelet. As if it were a firecracker to the begin the friendly rivalry, Chan’s short reign as the outright leader was negated when Doyle Brunson secured his tenth in the $5,000 Short-handed No Limit Hold’em event under a week later.

    In case his hunger ever needed fuelling, Phil Hellmuth saw the two victories for his friends as a spur to hunt down championship gold with a new vigor. 2005 would prove fruitless for Hellmuth, but he didn’t have wait much longer before tieing for ten bracelets, winning the $1,000 No Limit Hold’em with rebuys. His eleventh came in the $1,500 No Limit Hold’em event, breaking all the records once again. Old habits die hard, seemingly.

    5. Johnny Two Times

    Brunson had been the first to win back-to-back, while Ungar tore up the history books with his feats in the early eighties. The most impressive of all the repeat champions though is Johnny Chan. The first of two victories came in 1987 when he outlasted a final table including Howard Lederer and Dan Harrington. It was the second final table that is best known, with this heads-up win against Erik Seidel later immortalised in ‘Rounders’. With the field sizes as big as they are in the modern game, Chan will quite possibly be the last man to ever defend the title successfully.

    There are two ways to explain this hand; we can either talk about the cards, bets and action, or we could all just recount the quote made by Mike in ‘Rounders’.

    “Johnny Chan flops the nut straight and has the discipline to wait him out. He knows Seidel’s gonna bluff at it. Johnny fucking Chan. Chan is trying to sucker him in by taking his time. Look at the control. Look at that fuck. He knows his man well enough to check it all the way and risk winning nothing with those cards. He owns him.”

    It does help when you flop the nuts against top pair heads-up. Of course, it could have been a hat trick if it weren’t for a young man from Wisconsin who had all the self-belief of Ungar before him…

    4. Hellmuth Becomes Youngest Ever Champ

    From the moment the final table of the 1989 Main Event had been set, there was a sense that history would be made. Johnny Chan was seeking to become the first man to ever win three in a row, while a confident player by the name of Phil Hellmuth had the opportunity to surpass Stu Ungar’s record as the youngest ever Main Event winner. With the two outlasting a final table including Noel Furlong and Mr WPT himself, Lyle Berman, it came down to a Chan – Hellmuth finale that would see the record books rewritten. Chan had described Hellmuth’s play as aggressive, and when Hellmuth moved all in with pocket nines (yes, we know – very loose for Hellmuth), Chan made the call with As-7s. The nines held up and a new superstar was born. NASA also reported what they thought a new planet had been spotted in a neighbouring galaxy. It was later revealed to be Phil Hellmuth’s ego.

    3. Moneymaker Wins

    Chris Moneymaker’s win in 2003 literally reshaped poker. Heads-up against high-stakes gambler Sammy Farha, the accountant from Tennessee showed the world that anything is possible by becoming the first online satellite winner to win the Main Event. Having sat down one day to play a satellite on PokerStars, Chris bought into a $39 satellite and qualified for what would be his first live tournament. An unknown quantity, Moneymaker managed to knock out the likes of Johnny Chan and Phil Ivey on his way to collecting the $2.5m first prize.

    The win opened the minds of the every day man on the street; when they saw an accountant had beat a pro, everyone thought they too could win $2.5m. The poker bug spread, magazines were printed and their journalists still entertain the idea of being World Champion. One of these days…

    2. Chip Reese Wins Inaugural $50,000 H.O.R.S.E.

    With so many players flooding the Main Event, many of the pros now consider the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E as the true test of the best all-round poker player. The event was introduced in 2006, and the final table certainly provided us with some of the games best – and most recognisable – players; Doyle Brunson, TJ Cloutier, Patrik Antonius and Phil Ivey to name just four.

    One name that might not have been known to the rail was that of David ‘Chip’ Reese. Recognised by his peers as perhaps the best cash game player in the world, Reese had never sought the limelight associated with winning poker tournaments. When the chance to play the best in the world in the biggest buy-in event at the Series came up, the lure was too much for Reese.

    While it only took two and a half hours to lose the first seven, the heads-up battle between Reese and Andy Bloch was epic. Seven hours of play between the pair saw the lead change hands about a million times (ok, a slight exaggeration), and the duel was a testament to both players. As one moved to take charge, the other changed gear at just the right time.

    It was cruel that someone would lose, but it was Reese’s resolve to win the event that proved stronger. Having suffered several harsh beats, Bloch found himself down to a proverbial bowl of rice and called his remaining chips off with 9-8 against Reese’s A-Q. Typical of Bloch’s luck in the key moments, he didn’t improve. Reese had proved to the world that he was truly one of the greats. As if we didn’t know already.

    1. The Comeback Kid

    To win the Main Event back to back was a feat that deserves recognition. To come back sixteen years, having been through drug abuse, arrests and debt, was unworldly. That word can summarise Stu Ungar in so many ways; the greatest poker talent to ever take to the felt, the come back in 1997 reminded the world what drugs had – and would forever – deprive the poker world of.

    The years between 1981 and 1997 had been a hellacious repetition of drug abuse, gambling and personal torment. Married to a childhood sweetheart, Stuey had seen the birth of daughter Stephanie and the adoption of Madeline’s son from a previous marriage, Richie. Shortly after his high school prom, Richie committed suicide – an event that would drive Ungar to cocaine and an irreparable void in his family life. In 1986, Stu and Madeline divorced and Ungar hit drugs and gambling with a vengeance. The next decade saw ‘The Kid’ become a shadow of his former self, and even when backers stepped in to get Stuey back on the tournament trail, his weakness with cocaine cruelly intervened on any resurgence.

    By 1997, Ungar was in huge debt, but old friend and fellow pro Billy Baxter looked to back him one more time. The backing came just moments before tournament entries closed. Ungar, showing the signs of years of drug abuse, sat down once again. Having spent the previous day trying to raise funds, he was exhausted, falling asleep at the table. Lifelong friend Mike Sexton, who was playing at the table, gave Ungar encouragement. Baxter gave him something a little more direct, tongue-lashing Ungar midway through the day. The approach worked, and Ungar returned to the table with a renewed vigor. Coming back on the second day, Ungar was a new man, rested and on top of his game. The rest was inevitable. Taking a huge chip lead into the final table, bookmakers made Ungar the favorite against the rest of the field, a compliment as much as it is a rarity.

    The Kid did what everyone expected. With a photo of his daughter Stephanie by his side, he systematically schooled the final table before sending the last man,

    Ungar did not disappoint and won the Main Event for the third time. As if the poker gods had some ironic sense of humor, the final hand saw Stuey outdraw Strempz’s A-8 with A-4, a deuce on the river giving Ungar a straight. ‘The Kid’ was the greatest card player of all time, and too good to be lucky.

    The win meant Ungar would take half of the $1m he’d just won, the other half going to Baxter. The interview saw Gabe Kaplan ask if he would do things differently from there on. “Well, I hope so Gabe. You know, I’ve neglected my kids, you know, I’ve done a lot of stupid things to myself,” replied the straight-talking Ungar. You hoped the win would be the kick-start of a new life so that poker could enjoy his talents for years to come.

    Tragically, Stuey fell into old trappings, and in 1998 when his body succumbed to the results of the sustained drug use. How can you ever summarize Stu Ungar? The man himself did it best in the same interview. “There’s nobody that ever beat me playing cards. The only one that ever beat me was myself and my bad habits.”