At last week's November Nine reunion event at Foxwoods Resort Casino, Bernard Lee announced his new charity endeavor:
“One of the things I really wanted to do is this. If I was ever going to do a charity, I'd do it for kids.” Lee went on to explain, “For the remainder of the year, I'll be giving $500 to a charity pot for every full house I get. At the end of the year, I'll add all of that up, and then I'll donate a minimum of $20,000, at least $10,000 apiece to two charities.
“Basically what we're doing — it's my way of giving back. You talk about poker gods, poker karma. I think for me, this is something I really want to do. And I'm going to be giving it to charities centered around children — predominantly in the New England area, because that's where I'm from.
“We're also very, very pleased to add a new member to the Bernard Lee poker family. Cabot cheese approached us about this program, and it was just absolutely perfect synergy. It was almost like we designed the program for Cabot cheese, and it worked out perfectly and they decided to come aboard as the lead sponsor of this program, the Full House Charity Program. I'm just really, really happy that they wanted to become so involved with it.”
Cabot's vice president, Roberta MacDonald was on hand, decked out in cow-patterned pants and all. “We honor Bernard,” she said. “We're owned by farm families right here in the backyard of New England. This is an exceptional way that the farmers can amplify their commitment to community, and it's an honor to Bernard that we're a part of this.”
In a short Q&A session, Lee added, “Let's hope I get a lot of full houses this year. You know what I'm saying? A lot of them.”
Following the press conference, there was a long photo and media session with Lee and the members of the November Nine. We had a chance to catch up with the players and find out what they've been doing with themselves since we last saw them on our TV screens:
Give us the scoop on what you've been up to since November.
Jarvis: “I haven't really been getting any rest. I had a busy time during Christmas. I took a cruise right before Christmas, and I went to PCA in the Bahamas, then went down to Australia, and now I'm here. I've been home for less than 48 hours in the last six weeks. It's been pretty darn busy. I wouldn't mind it kind of cooling down a little bit. I'm kind of taking March off. I'm going on a few vacations with my girlfriend, then a trip with my mom to New York where my girlfriend lives. April I might get back into it a little more, and then May, I'm going to take off to get ready for the World Series. It's such a grind in June and July that you need, like, a full month off.”
Duhamel: I gotta say, I've done three big sports events. The east final of the CFL, I was there and they brought me in the center of the field with 60,000 people, so that was a very good thing. I got invited to the UFC in Montreal also when Georges St. Pierre fought, ring-side tickets, so that was very cool too. And when I gave the donation to the Montreal Canadiens, I got to watch a game just beside the owner of the team. Three very nice nights. I'm a big, big sports fan, so I'm going to remember those three nights for a very long time.”
What's the biggest thing that's changed in your day-to-day life since the Main Event final table?
Duhamel: Doing all these interviews [laughs]. It's just a lot of work to be honest, but it's a fun thing. I love it. Of course I'm still enjoying it. You travel to all the big tourneys, people are nice in general, congratulating you. I'm having a lot of fun with the people.
Cheong: “Nothing at all. I can travel more comfortably. And I can play $10Ks without needing to sell pieces and things like that.”
Nguyen: “To be honest, nothing much has changed about me. I still go to work every single day, I work from about five to ten, then I grind from about ten to noon. Then I go out with my friends to coffee shops, we play Vietnamese card games, stuff like that. But nothing much has changed. I mean, besides the fact that I can't walk into a card room without being recognized.”
Senti: “The biggest thing is my wife and I bought a new house. We'd been in the process of doing it for quite a while anyways. This made it a lot easier. We put a lot more money down. So we've been putting a lot of time into moving there and taking care of everything. Really the other big change for me is getting recognized. I am not used to that, and it's still shocking. It's not like it's nonstop or anything, and it's cool — it's just shocking. I really didn't think that back home in Minnesota at the grocery store, people would stop me, and at restaurants and stuff like that. It's pretty cool, sometimes a little embarrassing when I'm with my friends.”
Candio: “I don't change my game. See, I'm a cash game (player). Before I played NL400. Now I play NL1000. I think if you find your own game, and you make money in your own game you never change it. Okay, if you want to become the best professional poker player in the world, you should continue to move up levels. That's okay. But I prefer to make money every month. Now I also produce a televsion program in Italy. A poker program. I like it because for the last five years, I played only poker. I saw only cards. And now I would like to expand, to change a little bit. My life before the final table was very good. I was a good player before, I built my bankroll before. Okay, when I win $3 million, I mean, I was in Vegas to play $1,500 event. This is my biggest score, and maybe the best score I'll ever have in my life. But when I came back home, I continued my life. I love my life.”
What was the first thing you spent money on when you got paid out?
Jarvis: Lexus ISF. It's got like 420 HP or something like that. I'm never home to drive it. But it's a lot of fun. I drove up to Whistler with my mom and my dad and my girlfriend, and that drive on the road up to Whistler was a lot of fun. So much fun.”
Nguyen: “I bought a Bentley.”
Dolan: “I have literally bought nothing. I mean, I've looked at cars, but I've never pulled the trigger.”
Duhamel: “Nothing. I gave the $100k to charity, but besides that, just tournament entries. I got a couple of nice gifts for holidays for my parents and my sister, but besides that, I'm traveling so much, I don't even have time to think about buying something.”
Mizrachi: “I actually had a party at Pure for the November Nine. It was a pretty cool party. Nothing really crazy though. But I think I was in Vegas for two weeks after that just doing nothing.”
Cheong: “Umm, I got an Xbox, an Xbox 360, and Halo Reach. That was probably my only real splurge so far.”
When your final table was over, when was the first time you had some time alone to decompress? What did you do?
Jarvis: “I was never totally alone. I had one of my best friends (who's my manager) and my girlfriend there, and they were in the room there kind of consoling me. And my manager took off, and I just kind of hung out with my girlfriend for a bit. I hadn't drank anything in a year, but we went out that night and partied it up. Yeah, started drinking again. Me and Joseph swapped some percentage too, so I still had a bit of a sweat.”
Nguyen: “I went back to my room and just laid on my bed for like 10-15 minutes by myself. All of my friends were downstairs in the suite partying, I think they knew to just give me some time by myself, and about fifteen minutes later, I came down and partied.”
Senti: “We partied. For at least the first five days afterwards, I was with a ton of people. I had a lot of friends staying in Vegas through Tuesday or Wednesday. So my first alone time was on the plane to L.A. pretty much.”
Mizrachi: “I think after the final table, I don't think I've been by myself. I guess maybe here at Foxwoods, in my room. In the woods. This is the most peaceful time of the year. Look outside, it's woods and snow, and there's nothing to do but just play poker and just hang out and it's a fun place to get away.”
Dolan: Honestly, to this day I haven't watched the full broadcast of the final table. I've watched hands I was intersted in, but that's all. I guess I've thought about spots and asked people about a hand or two for the future.
Cheong: “I went to sleep right away. My apartment was just ten friends all over the floor just sleeping.”
Duhamel: “That was during the holidays. I had, like, a week and a half just to be alone, to see the family, see the frields. It was cool to just spend some time, take it easy and relax a little bit. Honestly, I was so tired, I didn't party that much. I just spent good time with my family and the people close to me, and it was just good to relax a little bit. And I knew that when 2011 starts, it's going to be a big big year, so just be ready.”
Speaking of 2011, do you have any specific goals for the year on the felt?
Duhamel: “I don't know? Do it again? I don't know, I just want to make as much as I can. I don't have specific goals in my mind, just to do the best I can. Hopefully have a good year, and a good World Series also, and do great on the tour.”
Nguyen: “My goal is just to play as much as I can and learn from my mistakes. I learn every single day that I play. I am the most inexperienced one of all of us. I'm just going to keep playing and learning. “
Senti: “Every year I sit down and write out my goals because I'm just, like, a big nerd. But this year, I've had it on my list of things to do for a month and a half, and I haven't actually done it yet. I know some more short-term goals are keep playing a lot more live tournaments than I have in the past, but I really want to take at least a couple weeks, be at home, and grind online. I haven't played, like, high-volume cash games in almost eight months, and that was my bread and butter for years. So I'm really looking forward to getting back on grinding and trying to beat the regulars over thousands of hands. That's where I love poker, deep stacks with deep history. Actually, my real goal is sixth place in the Main Event. Each year I'm going go click up one spot until I win it, and then I'm retiring.”
Jarvis: “I've been looking at the schedule and – wow. It's bracelet-chasin' time. I really would like to win a bracelet this year. My new, like, five-year goal is to be the first-time repeat November Niner, and I think it's just be so good if I could get deep again, make it to the final table again. But, ya know, odds are against me. But I've put in a lot of time on my game, and I just want to keep pounding out. I had a pretty good weekend a couple weeks back where I won the UBOC High Roller event and I just want to kind of keep on pounding out wins.”
Cheong: “I wanna six-bet successfully. Once at least. I wanna bluff six-bet, ideally. I wouldn't mind a real hand either. I also want to transition from the professional poker world to the craps world. I only started playing in the Bahamas, but we had a really great session."
Mizrachi: “Poker's very streaky, and I haven't been playing as much. In 2010 I played just pretty much the World Series events, and I traveled to Europe for a few events, but this year I really haven't played anything yet. I've been doing Deepstacks classes. That's pretty cool, so now I'm a poker-player-slash-instructor. It's different. I didn't think I'd enjoy doing it, but I do. I love it. It's a great class, a great group of guys.”
Do you guys still keep in touch fairly regularly?
Jarvis: “I talk to most of the guys all the time. Duhamel and Joseph especially. But yeah, we talk to all the guys. We just kind of come in, and we're all like brothers kind of thing.”
Mizrachi: “It's a once in a lifetime thing. To experience the November Nine. It was a great group of guys to be with. They're awesome poker players, and just fun to be around. I love the side action too, a lot of prop bets. So it makes it even more fun to hang around them.”
Since you brought up prop bets, we saw you guys doing some business on the bowling lanes last night. Who's the best bowler of you nine?
Senti: “I am.”
Jarvis: “Senti, for sure. He crushes us. I think I beat everyone the second game, though. But he was like, I think I was 155 the second game. He was like 202 the first game.”
Nguyen: “I'm the second-best bowler. You can ask – me and Grinder had a very interesting frame, we went down to the tenth frame yesterday. I had to strike-spare to beat him, or spare-strike to beat him, and I got a strike-nine for the tie. I kicked his ass in the second game though.”
Mizrachi: “We definitely all got hustled by Jason. It wasn't even a close match, it wasn't even fair. He's gotta spot like, 60, 70 pins... minimum.”
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