Last year, I wrote a story about my triumphant sixth place finish in the 2011 Los Angeles Kings / Anaheim Ducks charity poker event, which netted me a team-signed jersey and $600 cash. It still stands as one of the greatest nights of my life. (Re-live the memories by reading last year’s post here).
This year, I would not walk away with a cash prize or a final table appearance. I did win my first table for the second straight year, edging out 900 players to make my way into the Top 100; but this time around, my journey would end at the second table.
Before I get into a recap of the poker side of the evening, let me first talk about a man that we as LA Kings fans just don’t give enough credit and respect to: Patrick O’Neal.
This will likely be read as tongue-in-cheek, but I actually am being sincere here. Had an awesome conversation with the dude tonight, and this post is a direct response to that conversation.
A few weeks ago, on February 18, Patrick O’Neal told Luc Robitaille during an interview to promote this event that last year he had made it to the final table. I quickly took to twitter:
@DavesDime: I was at the final table of last year’s #LAKings Charity Poker Tourney… @PONealFSWest wasn’t. He just lied to Luc on the air! #HowDareHe
The following intermission, Patrick O’Neal responded;
@PONealFSWest: meant to say I advanced from my table #mybad @DavesDime
A perfectly reasonable response. It’s live TV. Minor slip-ups happen.
@DavesDime: @PONealFSWest Haha just giving you a hard time. See you at the final table this year! #GoKings!
Fast forward to March 1 at this year’s tournament. I hear that Patrick O’Neal has advanced to the second round for the second straight year, just like I have! I make it a point to go get my picture taken with him and rib him again about the slip-up, letting him know I was just messing around.
After I’m eliminated, I see that he has been too; I pull him aside for a picture, and tell him I’m the guy who gave him a hard time on twitter the other day. But he recognizes me as someone else…
(Paraphrasing from memory of course:)
Patrick: “Hey, you’re the guy with that post who had all of the pictures last year, aren’t you?”
Me: “Yep, that was me-”
Patrick: “I was the ONLY one you left out! You’ve got pictures with Bob, Jim, Nick, Darryl, Heidi, talking about how it’s the greatest day ever and everyone is so cool…”
Me: “Hmm, I did also leave out Rich Hammond…”
Patrick: “Heidi is so sweet, she’s so great, what a talented gal you say… you got the whole broadcast team! I was here! I was roaming around! I was the only one you ignored!”
Me: “Hmm, I guess I did also get David Courtney… yeah, pretty much everyone.”
Patrick: “What gives?”
Me: “Now wait, just to be clear, you aren’t putting yourself in the Bob and Jim category are you? Those guys are legends.”
Patrick: “No, of course not, those guys are in a different tier. But I should at least be in the Heidi and Rich tier!”
REALLY funny stuff. Delivered in a way that you could tell was tongue-in-cheek, but also with a tinge of truth.
I told him he was right, and that I was making it up to him by getting a picture with him and that this year, I’d be writing all about him this time around. No clue how he found my article last year, but I’ll send it to him this year. This one’s for you, Patrick!
We got back to the slip-up, he re-explained it was just a mistake, but admitted it was cool to tell LUC ROBITAILLE that he was at the final table. I agreed, and said he didn’t get the respect he deserved from Luc; Luc just kind of brushed it off like “oh, that’s cool”… Patrick deserved more on-air respect for his faked accomplishment.
I then told him the true story of when he won me over as the Kings’ reporter. I forget exactly what the game was, but my best friend Sam and I watched as the Kings got pummeled in a 4-0 or 5-0 shutout in a game they were totally dominated in from start to finish. Patrick O’Neal came on the screen, and Sam and I both rolled our eyes and before I could open my mouth to say “Great, Patrick O’Neal”, O’Neal says “Well Kings fan, I know I’m about the last person in the world you want to see right now, but the post game show must go on”. Sam and I both burst out laughing, and gave him big props for that line. And I had an epiphany;
It isn’t Patrick O’Neal’s fault that the Kings suck half (or more) of the time.
The Kings have been sucking, in varying degrees, since 1967; long before I was born or Patrick O’Neal was on the air. It isn’t his fault they got blown out that night, or can’t score worth a damn this season, or have never won a cup. So why the hell do we always take it out on him?
It’s like blaming a blackjack dealer in Las Vegas for a bad run of luck. When the players are losing, the dealer gets snide remarks and no tips. When the players are winning, the dealer is a part of the fun and makes more money in tips. So why do you blame the dealer for a cold streak? Don’t you think he or she would much rather you be winning than losing?
We take out our frustrations on Patrick O’Neal because he’s the one on the screen while the team is off in the locker room. We don’t want to hear him ask questions about why we can’t score or bemoan the fact that we sucked that night; but it isn’t Patrick O’Neal that’s the problem, it’s the fact that we can’t score and that we sucked that is! Nothing he can do about either, and if he could, I’m sure he’d help.
The other reason Kings fans give O’Neal a hard time: They think he’s a Ducks fan.
Based on what?!? The fact that he used to, as a Fox Sports employee, work on Ducks games?
Here’s the reality; I don’t know the ins and outs of Patrick O’Neal’s job, but from the outside looking in, it is essentially my dream job. He’s an on-air sports reporter. If I could make a living doing it, I’d be an off-air sports reporter for a double-A baseball team and a college hockey team. If I had a job as the “sideline” reporter for a professional hockey team? Hell yeah I’d do it, with a big smile on my face, even if that team was a team I completely despised such as the Anaheim Ducks or the San Jose Sharks.
Are we really going to hold it against him that he had to cover the Ducks before he covered the Kings? Kings fans pretty much universally hate the Canucks these days; but we LOVE Willie Mitchell, don’t we? The past is in the past!
I defy anyone who’s met Patrick O’Neal in person to tell me that he’s not a cool dude.
So that’s my rant on Patrick O’Neal. I can’t force you to like the guy, but if you don’t, I do ask you to reflect on why… the source of the problem may very well be misplaced anger towards the Kings. And my guess is, like us, he’d like to see the team go 98-0 en route to a Stanley Cup.
Patrick: You complained that last year I didn’t make any mention of you whatsoever. This year, I spent more time on you than I did on all of them last year combined. We cool?
Oh right, some poker was played Thursday night, too. Started with 2000 in chips, blinds went up every (LOL) 12 minutes.
First hand I was off to a good start. AJ, flop A J 2. Bet a bit, called. Turn J, bet 250, called. River 9, bet 450, called; his ace alone was no good.
Scooped up some other minor pots along the way and was the chip leader. Dealt J 10, flop comes K 9 8. I bet 350, raised to 700, guy with 1200 left pushes all-in. In a normal tournament I’d likely fold here; but in this super turbo tournament, you have to chase your draws. I re-raise all in, guy who raised to 700 folds. River my 7. Huge pot.
Later in the tournament, blinds in the stratosphere at 800/1600; in the small blind, folds around to me, I have no choice but to go all-in at this stage with 5 10 of hearts. Get called, he flips over A 10… looking like its bye-bye me. Flop comes 5d 8h 6h. Where the hell are flops like that when I am playing in my real-money tournaments?!?
Get to heads up, where I’m essentially given the match. We’re at 1500/3000 blinds, each about even with 10,000 in chips. He folds, I collect his 1500. Next hand, I go all in, he folds, I collect his 3000. Next hand, he folds, I collect his 1500. That’s 6000 chips in three hands. I get KQ and raise him all in, and he now has now choice and calls with 9 4. Flop a King, and that one is over.
Alas, at the second table I was completely card dead. Folded and scooped up a few tiny pots, had about 1700 in chips as blinds climbed to 200/400. Called 400 with K 10, flop came 2 3 8 w/ two clubs. Checks all around. Turn K of clubs, quick all-in for me. Guy calls with A J of clubs. King of clubs was not a good card for me! Only card in the deck, other than maybe the 10 of clubs, coming out that loses me all of my chips on that hand. Ah well.
On the bright side, my departure led to my awesome exchange with Patrick O’Neal. Then my mother gave me $20 to play some slots with along with the $10 free play San Manuel gave to all tournament entrants. Figured what the hell, I’d use my free play and the $20 on a nickel machine…
Hit this beauty for $72. Ran my winnings up to $120 before cashing out, giving mom her $20 back, and walking out of there with $100.
Would love to have returned to the final table, but that’s what next year is for, right? Once again very happy that the Kings and Ducks put on this great event and highly recommend it to everyone next year; it’s a great time, raises money for charity, and you get to meet some pretty awesome celebrities.
Like Patrick Fricking O’Neal!