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Team Canada!

Friends Make the World a Better Place

About 16 years ago while I was owner and publisher of Card Player Magazine, I had the good fortune to field a phone call from a woman representing a group of 10 Canadian businessmen. She told me that she had been hired to find a well-known poker expert to help them realize part of a Las Vegas fantasy weekend. The group had just finalized a huge business deal, and were coming to Las Vegas to celebrate. Included in the weekend would be private helicopters to the Grand Canyon, a Richard Petty Driving Experience, and a night with a poker pro that was to include a poker seminar and a private tournament in one of their suites at the recently opened Venetian. She asked me for a specific player’s contact information, I provided it, she thanked me, and I thought no more about it.

About a week later, she called back and asked if I had another phone number for this noted poker celebrity bracelet winner since he had not called her back. I told her that I didn’t and asked if perhaps I could help in some way. Upon hearing their needs, I told her that I would be happy to provide the poker part of it. She asked what I would charge and was surprised when I replied, “It sounds like fun; I’ll do it for nothing.”

Fast forward a few months, and a group of highly educated, enthusiastic young men arrived in Las Vegas ready to learn more about the game we love. They rented out the private room at Valentino’s for the evening and I met them there and talked to them about poker strategy and poker stories for a few hours before hosting their private tournament. We hit it off and had a great evening of poker.

This was the first of what would become their annual four-day trip to Las Vegas. Their days here are filled with a private poker tournament, extravagant dinners, concerts and shows, interesting group activities, and of course poker and more poker. In 2001, I enlisted my best friend Jan Fisher to get involved with the group, as well as some other local friends for some friendly competition: Team USA vs. Team Canada.

Team Canada

Over the years, I have become great friends with this amazing group of men. They are like little brothers to me. I’ve met their families. I’ve followed their business careers. They’ve been to important events in my life such as my induction into the Women in Poker Hall of Fame as well as the Poker Hall of Fame. Jan and I have flown to their home towns for fund raisers and to give poker talks. They are very important to me and we will be lifelong friends. Today was the first day of this year’s annual Las Vegas retreat. We met for dinner and then went to see Santana at the House of Blues. Tomorrow is our annual poker tournament followed by an awards banquet at the Golden Steer, then two more days of hanging out, playing poker, and enjoying time together.

I look forward to this four-day “homecoming” every year. What’s so cool is that they think they get the most out of our friendship, but Jan and I KNOW we get the best of it. Shhh! This will be our secret.

Meanwhile, good luck to those playing at the WSOP or any of the other big poker events in town. May the cards break even for us all!

Linda Johnson
Card Player Cruise

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at cardplayercruise@aol.com.
Linda Johnson
Linda Johnson

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