The real runner-runner

November 06, 2013

Poker has changed in a lot of ways since I first got seriously involved with the game back in the late 1980’s. I mean, there used to be a saying, “The third raise is always aces.” And if it wasn’t true, it was damn near true. Now the third raise is, well, whatever.

There’s been a welcome and much needed expansion of the demographic, from old white guys to just about everybody. We’re still trying to get more women into the tent, but I feel sure that will happen.

But one of the most noticeable changes has been in the general health and health-awareness of the poker community. Back in the bad old days, we used to play poker in rooms so thick with smoke that you couldn’t see to the far wall. You had to throw your clothes in the washing machine the minute you got home. It was so bad that even the smokers said it was too much. But thanks to people such as Tom McEvoy and Casey Kastle, smoking was eliminated from virtually all poker rooms around the United States and ultimately the rest of the world.

As the demographic has shifted to include younger people, and the world as a whole has gotten more health conscious, poker players have gone along with the tide too. Now you’re hearing phrases such as “anti-oxidant” and “P-90X” at the poker table.

Which brings us to Sunday, November 3rd. I had bumped into PokerStars Team Pro Liv Boeree at Barcelona; she told me she was coming to the Isle of Man. Somewhere in there, we agreed that we should go for a run while she was here. And once we agreed on that, it seemed like we should invite everybody to come out and run with us.

Despite the terrible weather on Saturday, Sunday broke out perfectly – a cool but sunny day, perfect for running. At 11:30 (yes, poker players, in the morning), over a dozen of us gathered out along the sea wall. We had Team Pros, we had Rational Group employees, we had spouses and friends. It was awesome. The plan was simple:

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We’re here

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Run to there and back.

In fact, it turned out that the turnaround point for our 5K was exactly two lampposts past the entrance to PokerStars headquarters (I had gone out in the crap weather the day before and measured it). After a couple of minutes of stretching we were off.

Some of the group flew up the Prom and up Port Jack hill like the ghosts and ghouls of the recently passed Halloween were after them. That group included Team Pros Liv Boeree and Leo Margets, and Team Online member Dale “Daleroxxu” Phillips. Some of us, including Team Pros David Williams, Vanessa Rousso, and myself were more toward the back. And then there was the middle of the pack.

Interestingly (and refreshingly), nobody suggested prop bets. We were out to enjoy the weather, the exercise, and the company. And boy did we. As the returning fast ones passed the outbound slower ones, we’d high-five each other. Leo Margets and Full Tilt employee Aeden Jenkins got back, stood around a bit, and said “We need more of this!” and set out back toward the hill again.

Eventually we convened back at the start point for a group picture, then it was off to showers and the rest of the day. Without exception, people said they felt refreshed and invigorated. David Williams said, “This really inspires me to start exercising regularly.” That right there – that was worth it all.

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Sunglasses. In the Isle of Man. Look what you missed.

And while I doubt you’ll ever see this event on the official tournament schedule at a PokerStars Live festival, don’t be too terribly surprised to see a bunch of poker players in running gear getting in their pre-table exercise.

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And yes, we had a view of the ocean the whole time.

Lee Jones the Head of Poker Communications at PokerStars; he first joined the company in 2003. He has been involved in the professional poker world since the mid 1980’s.


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