Proof That The World Is Smaller Than You Thought It Was

The story’s background: Skirmish47 is our newest Player Rep. All the Volunteers have “Friended” each other to be able to send PMs within the group. Skirmish47’s profile mentioned he was a fan of Al Alvarez, author of ”The Biggest Game in Town” about the WSOP. I wrote back since I actually have a signed copy of that book. The thread will explain the rest–but, it turns out I actually knew and played cards with this guy’s father some 30 years ago. But, he’s Canadian! His father was an American, and so was he; he merely lives in Canada, now.

This true story is almost as unlikely as someone named Lou Gehrig dying of Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

Proof That The World Is Smaller Than You Thought It Was
A real PM exchange between Alan25main and Skirmish47

19 Jun about 6:30AM Alan25main wrote:
Hi, Skirmish47, welcome to the volunteer team. If you have questions, we’ll all try to help. Good luck and hope to see you at the tables.
PS I happen to have an autographed copy of the Al Alvarez book you mention in your profile, LOL. After we’re Friends, I’ll PM you with how I finagled that.

19 Jun about 7:30AM Skirmish47 wrote:
Hi, I’m Skirmish47, and I just started as a volunteer. Very glad to be joining this group! I’m a (mostly retired) journalist and (semipro) musician, living in Ontario, Canada. I know some of you already, and am looking forward to meeting the rest.

On 19 Jun 08:08, Alan25main wrote:
When Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut opened in 1991, they sponsored the first “World Poker Finals” series of tournaments. The nationally known celebrities and poker personalities included Mike Caro, Al Alvarez, Mike Sexton, and a fist-full of others. It was a multiday affair that was repeated annually until the World Poker Tour took it over from Foxwoods about 2007.

At that time (1991), I was the ONLY writer doing any business with CardPlayer Magazine north of Atlantic City, NJ. I was ridiculously under-qualified since I wrote mostly fiction, but being the only choice made it easy to get the assignment. At that point, the guest list hadn’t been released yet. I expected the event’s “big story” to be Mike Caro’s introduction of the four color deck that was in fact used–though only a minority of players liked it. The first day was mostly boring speeches and the Press event (a freeroll for members of the press who were covering the tourney). I came in 3rd in that Press Tornament.

As we went to the complimentary buffet, a non-player from the Press event was seated at my table. Short, stocky, late 40s to early 50s, big mustache, dark hair frosted with grey at the temples, and smoking a pipe, he introduced himself as Al Alvarez. I hadn’t realized he was a Brit even though it indicated that in the book which I had read and owned a copy of. I also hadn’t known the accent in his surname was on the 2nd syllable (Al-VAR-ez). That still strikes me as odd, but he’d surely know.

I mentioned I had his book–but, not with me. He said he’d be there the following day, but was leaving that next evening. I brought the book with me the next day and he signed it. He seemed a very nice gentleman.

Again, welcome to the team. If I can help you, let me know.

On 19 Jun 09:51, Skirmish47 wrote:
Hey, Alan25main!

That’s a great story - - - but I may be able to top it! I knew Al, played cards with him (once, a very casual game, he was WAY above my level) and corresponded with him re an article I wrote about the '88 WSOP. I remember him fondly!

I played once or twice at Foxwoods, not a lot—but if you were a regular at the poker tables, I wonder whether you ever met my dad, Walter Goodman. Just a shot in the dark.

Thanks much for your RP Volunteer welcome! The first few hours have been a lot of fun!


On 19 Jun 10:24, Alan25main wrote:
Walter Goodman? That name sounds familiar–but that was literally 29 years, 6 months ago, LOL. Was he a 5’8"-ish, slender guy who worked for Reader’s Digest or for one of the NY papers? If so, I think he beat me (coming in 2nd) in the Press tourney I mentioned. He was a nice guy. He must’ve been in his late 50s or early 60s by 1992. I saw him again in the 1993 event that had Ivana Trump and some boxer as guests. I was at the 1994 event only briefly, so I don’t remember much about that year other than meeting Doyle Brunson and Mike Sexton (who I already knew from social connections)–and that was the last event I attended. I moved in 1995. Say hello to him for me, if you can, though I doubt he’d remember me.

I played very little at Foxwoods because it was a 2 hour drive from where I was living at that time. Mostly, I haunted the club games at the Elk’s, Eagles’, and Italian-American clubs (they made me an honorary Italian to let me in, LOL) in central MA. I’d go visit the Indians once every 9 months or so. Sometimes, I won, sometimes, not. The rake can kill you even if the other players don’t.

Damn! The world is even smaller than I thought it was.

On 19 Jun 10:36, Skirmish47 wrote:
Yes, that sounds like him! He’d have been 65 in '92. He spent most of his career at the NYTimes, in a bunch of posts, probably best known as TV critic (though that would annoy him). He died in 2002.

On 19 Jun 10:58, Alan25main wrote:
OMG! That’s him!!! I wanted to say NYT but wasn’t confident enough of my memory to do it. I’m sorry to hear he passed away.

There was a third musketeer, so to speak, who worked for Reader’s Digest, but I don’t recall his name. The three of us ate our free meals together and made fun of Ivana Trump (she was promoting her book, was barely 5’ tall, and might’ve weighed 95 pounds; she had just divorced Donald who then married Marla Maples) and the boxer who was already drunk (at 10 AM) when we got there.

What’re the odds on that, I wonder. I’m tempted to post this whole thread. Would you object?

On 19 Jun 11:48, Skirmish47 wrote:
Amazing. Like, totally amazing. Yes, the fact that you guys made fun of Ivana Trump confirms the ID!

Definitely post the thread!


“It’s a small world, but I wouldn’t want to have to paint it.” - Steven Wright

Interesting exchange, thanks for sharing. I used to live about 20 minutes from Foxwoods. Hmmmm.

Just for the record, Canadia is in North America, so Canadians are also Americans. Also, since our species originated in Africa, every living human can trace roots back to there. Technically, all Canadians are African Americans.


Great story :+1:t2: Small world indeed!

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After reading the posts I went to Foxwoods in Connecticut, it’s about 45 minutes from my house lol. I should have stayed home :sunglasses:

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Heh, I hear that.

I was on the way to Foxwoods to test out my new system for roulette one time, when an eagle flew up from the side of the road and pooped on my windshield. “Ah ha!” says I, “The eagle represents Native Americans, so this means they are gonna poop me a ton of money!”

As it turned out, that’s not what it meant at all. An hour later, I was down $400 after it came up black 17 times in a row when I was betting red, so decided to quit.

I then learned that there was a pow wow going on, so I went. I ran into a famous Native flute player, and, after some conversation, was enlisted to develop a web site for him. This way more than covered my losses.

The main problem with omens, other than the fact that they are coincidence and utterly meaningless, is that they are hard to interpret!