Requiescat Steve Albini - The Great Dies at 61

sTEVE bRACELET
I don’t remember where or when I first met Steve, but unquestionably it was engaged in our shared pastime, at a poker table.

Someone once shared, “hey, that’s Steve Fucking Albini!” I didn’t know his name at the time. I had to look it up. I went down a rabbit hole, learning about his impact on so many bands and musicians that I was familiar with, and in some cases, cherished and celebrated. I later learned how much he didn’t choose to have an “impact” on these musicians, chose to elevate the artist and the art. They were buoyed by him anyway.  He thought that the music industry took advantage of their power dynamic, taking so much of the money that the artists had rightfully earned, and leaving them relatively little. He refused that model, taking credit only as "recording engineer", and not as "producer."

The New York Times’s Ben Sisario shared, in a sentence I could only dream of constructing: “With a sharp vision for how a band should be recorded, and an even sharper tongue for anything he deemed mediocre or compromised, Mr. Albini was one of rock’s most acerbic wits.”

He wasn’t just one of rock’s acerbic wits, nor one of music’s sharper critics, he was simply a great wit. The driest of dries. And a critic of all things in life. 

Steve Albini Lincoln Hall 2020

Steve and his band, Shellac, were just about to hit the road to tour their first album in ten years. 

One time I was having dinner with my son and noticed he was wearing an “In Utero” t-shirt, the album that Steve famously recorded (but didn’t produce, dammit!) I snapped a photo of my then twelve-year old son and sent it to him. “One of his favorites too”, was the caption. 

Within minutes, Steve’s retort: “Wow, if he didn’t look just like you, I would be convinced you were a virgin.” 

When I first got invited to play poker with Steve and his regular crew, maybe 10-12 years ago, it was at his recording studio - Electrical Audio. I was so giddy about getting to play cards in the man’s studio. The place where he makes magic. And I wasn’t breaking in, or sneaking in in an oversized horse (though he would have probably loved that), I was actually there legitimately. 

Years later he became a regular in my weekly game. 

I was at the table watching when he won his first World Series of Poker Bracelet in 2018. A couple of years later I found a photo of him dispensing of Chris “Jesus” Fergusen and Jeffrey Lisandro, two of the greats, at a then-four-handed final table.

Steve First Bracelet 2018 Ferguson Lisandro

I said, “Steve, I found a great photo of you winning your first bracelet. Should I send it to you?”

“Nah. I have enough photos of me.” he retorted in his completely earnest, and typical way. 

In 2022 I was fortunate enough to have invested in his results in the Event #32, a $1500 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. event at the WSOP. He never sat at the top of the chip leader board, but elimination after elimination, he was still there. When he got down to the final table, everyone who knew him dropped what they were doing to go “rail” Steve (to watch him alongside the rail around the final table.) 

He brought a brass bell to the final table, the kind you’d find at the front desk of a hotel from the 1950s. Every time he won a hand, he rang that damn bell. He thought it was funny. His supporters thought it was hilarious. 

After awhile, Steve could see that it was irritating his opponents and he stopped ringing the bell. “It’s driving them crazy,” he relayed. For most poker players, trying to destroy their opponents, this was a feature of the bell. For Steve, who’s sharp wit, critical mind, and apparently irascible temperament (I’ll never know how much was manufactured), his public persona often belied the man within. He didn’t want to piss off, or even “tilt” his opponents. He just wanted to beat them. 

Steve was a tender soul. He was a liberal progressive from Missoula, Montana. He was a genius, with a guitar, while recording to GP9 on a Studer A820, or in a debate about human rights and human decency. I learned an awful lot from Steve. 

That night Steve miraculously (and, I mean, it was truly unlikely so many different times) outlasted the field of 773 players (also his area code) and won his second World Series of Poker bracelet. I got to see them both. 

Steve Lundeen Wins Second WSOP Bracelet. I had the privilege to celebrate with him.

Steve won the bracelet, then broke the bracelet. He called it a “carnival trinket”, but he was thrilled to have won it again. He referred to Las Vegas as a “mob toilet” and “how poor people think rich people live.” He hated Las Vegas, but he loved to compete.

When asked in the post-tournament interview how he felt, he said “great. I’m now tied for third in bracelets in my home game!”

Always hilarious. 

The last time I saw Steve, three weeks ago, he was leaving my poker table in a huff. He’d had a bad night, he’d gotten his ass kicked at the table several times. He never really showed anger, but this night he was unhappy with himself, and perhaps a bit angry with the “poker gods”. He muttered something like “don’t invite me back”, about 20% serious and 80% cheeky. Well, maybe 50-50 in the moment. 

Two weeks ago his RSVP’d his regrets, as he was in “French France”, as he put it. 

I enjoyed EVERY SINGLE INTERACTION I had with that man. 

“Requiescat”, Steve. A word I learned from you. 🎈

EN NOIR - A Casino Royale Masquerade October 21, 2017

EN NOIR - A Casino Royale Masquerade

Escape into the world of Bond - James Bond.


Experience elegance and drama surrounded by casino tables, aerialist performances, Bond theme music, cocktails and hors d'oeuvres.

The evening will belong to the legacy of 007 with Bond themes weaved throughout the program and design. Erin Boheme, first discovered by Michael Buble, will set the tone with sultry renditions of Bond’s most memorable themes. Enveloped in drama will be captivating performances from aerialists as they drop from the ceiling of the Grand Ballroom while masquerading guests relish the casino tables. Sip on themed cocktails from the premium open bar and savor chef-driven hors d'oeuvres while you play out the evening of extravagance.

Look Good. Be Bad. Blame it on Us.

Season 5 of Windy City Poker Championship Available Online

Windy City Poker Championship Season 5

The 2014 broadcast of Windy City Poker Championship -- including the $1,000 Qualifier Tournament, $3,000 Single Table Tournament, and the first ever low-stakes, televised $2/$5/$10 No Limit Hold em Cash Game -- is now available online.  

Just head over to the Windy City Poker Championship section of our site!

Charity Poker March 8th - VFW Tinley

Charity poker event hosted by Suburban Fellowship Club of Forest Park Saturday March 8th @ 17147 Oak Park Ave. Tinley Park VFW 60477 (One Block North of Metra Station)

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL LIST OF TOURNAMENT STRUCTURES

March 8th, 2014 @ VFW Tinley Park - 17147 Oak Park Ave. Tinley Park IL 60477
12pm - $50+$10* - MTT - 20,000 chip stack
6pm - Windy City Poker League (Buy-In includes Food and Drink) $75+$5* - MTT - 8,000 chip stack


Like the WCPC facebook page or follow on Twitter (@WindyCityPoker) and receive 5% additional bonus tournament chips for either the Noon or 6pm MTT.

Poker will begin at 12pm with a 20,000 chip Deep Stack $50+$10 optional bonus

At 6pm there is the brand new Windy City Poker League which will be a 10 month points league that keeps track of your success during each monthly tournament. Regular payouts like any normal MTT tournament. The $75 buy-in includes $5 towards the championship pot, food and drink during break with the remaining money going to the player prize pool.

$1/$2 cash game with a $50 min/$300 max buy-in. Collect entries to win a seat at a Televised $2/$5/$10 Cash Game in May!

Text or E-mail to pre register. 708-935-2861 - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Pre-registration and player referral(s) get you bonus chips in any MTT (up to 10% more)

* All events are subject to change or cancellation at anytime. Event dates, times, and locations subject to change. Each tournament has an optional table bonus as represented in the schedule. Must be 18 or over to participate. Hosted by Suburban Fellowship Club of Forest Park IL CG-02633. All payouts adhere to the Illinois Charitable Games Act.

4th Annual All-In for Wishes Charity Poker Tournament

The 4th annual All-In for Wishes charity poker tournament to benefit the Make A Wish Foundation was held in Albany New York this past weekend. This year's event featured a televised livestream with hole card information via an RFID Poker table from Ted Leahy at Lucky Leahy's. The TV production started right after the re-buy period ended and went all the way to a crowning of a champion.

More than 5 hours of coverage was hosted by James Allen, Kirk Fallah, Greg Merson, and Lee Childs. Over $20,000 was raised at the event which will go to benefit the Make A Wish Foundation. You can watch the coverage on Youtube.

 

Beware the Pokerbot - The Poker Player That Can't Be Beaten

Texas Hold 'Em Pokerbot

This post originally appeared on the geekchicago.com blog and is being re-printed here with permission.

Technology is infiltrating life in ways we may not even expect. One of those areas is the poker arena.

Technology may have just found a way to "solve" poker. What does that mean? Consider a simple game like tic-tac-toe. If player A does one move, then with the goal of winning in mind, player B has an optimal move, guaranteed to put him on a path to victory (or in this game, at least a "draw".) It is a "solved" game.

Poker is way more complicated than that, though... right?

Yes, and no. It seems that this new "pokerbot" artificial intelligence that provides the "brains" over 200 Texas Hold 'Em Heads Up machines across the US basically always comes out on top.  The pokerbot uses knowledge that it has from billions of staged rounds of poker, fed through neural networks (essentially a complex decision making formula), resulting in an unpredictable but virtually unbeatable poker player.

In fact, it took the developers 2 years to dumb down the system enough so that players wouldn't walk away. Even so, its estimated that only 100 around the world will be able to beat it on a regular basis.

...you and I are probably not one of those 100. But it's worth a try, right?

We reached out to Dave Thornton, the CEO of Skill in Games, a company dedicated to separating out the luck component from the game of poker to measure a player's relative skill quotient to understand whether or not the game has truly been solved.  When asked, "is the game of poker solved", he had this to say:

Yes in the sense that [Artificial Intelligence engines] exist which can profitably play heads-up limit hold'em against tough opponents.  No in the more formal sense - as far as I know, we haven't fully enumerated a game theory optimal strategy for heads-up limit hold'em.  

The New Season of Windy City Poker Championship On the Air Now

Windy City Poker Championship Heads Up Lineup Spring 2013

Windy City Poker Championship returns with its fourth season on Sunday nights in June and July at 7pm and 8pm.

The first two episodes of the season showcase the spring heads up eight man tournament, including Rick Rahim, Nick Jivkov, Pawel Andrzejewski, and Ryan Leng.

The second half of episode two features the $3000 buy-in single table tournament featuring WPT Boot Camp instructor Nick Brancato, 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event Champion Chris Moneymaker, WLS and Sun-Times' Richard Roeper, ABC7's Ron Magers, Circuit Event Champion Aaron Massey, and additional pros and amateurs. 

Tune in every Sunday night to Comcast SportsNet (what channel number is that?) to catch the latest episode, hosted by Jason Finn and produced by Kirk Fallah.
Alternately, episodes can be found online at WindyCityPokerChampionship.com. 

ISCD Poker & Casino Night - April 27

ISCD BadgeOn Saturday, April 27, 2013, the American Friends of the Israel Sport Center for the Disabled and the B’nai B’rith Sports Lodge will be holding its 7th Annual Poker Tournament and Casino Night at the Mart Plaza in Chicago, IL.

Event Date : Saturday, April 27,2013
Event Time : 6pm to Midnight
Event Location: Mart Plaza, Chicago, IL. 350 W Mart Center Dr Chicago, Illinois 60654

ISCD Badge

Interested in Becoming a Sponsor?

For additional details CLICK HERE or
contact Stu Nitzkin at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 773.875.2425