The 2016 Presidential Poker Open has been underway for more than a year, by far the longest tournament in poker history. It is scheduled to come to a close on November 8, 2016, where one player will be declared the champion, also known as the President of the United States.
This is the 57th quadrennial tournament, the first dating back to 1788 when George Washington won the first event. The rules have changed over the years, and the 2016 PPO may be the craziest to date.
Poker media began covering the PPO in August of last year, when the field was still open for registration. There were 22 players in the tournament at the time, each backed by either the Democratic or Republican parties. Others were playing satellites hosted by the Green Party, Libertarian Party, and other independent parties hoping for seats in the PPO.
The last column about the event was in February, when 12 Republicans and three Democrats at the featured tables, but as the primaries and caucuses in various states began, some of the busted out of the tournament. Many of those officially backed other remaining players, while others virtually disappeared. The table talk became too much for this reporter to handle, but it is our duty to let poker fans know where the remaining players stand.
Republicans Now Represented by One Orange Player
The player with the least experience prevailed. Call it beginner’s luck or a curse, but Donald Trump came into the tournament with no playing experience. The only attention he paid to the PPO before he bought in was to back other players. But once he got into the game, he couldn’t stop winning big pots.
Trump consistently changed the rules of the game to the point that the tournament director stopped trying to control it. And he finally eliminated pros Ted Cruz and John Kasich to be the last Republican-sponsored player left in the game.
The problem was that most players who busted out have either refused to support Trump or only reluctantly came to the rail to be seen by the television cameras. Some of them are banding together, along with the 2012 PPO heads-up loser Mitt Romney, to put another player in the game in an effort to bust Trump. They seem willing to stake a pro at 100%, but there have yet to be any takers.
Two Players Continue Fighting for the Democratic Seat
Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton remain as Democratic-sponsored players. Clinton has a few more chips than Sanders, but she also has chips that have been promised to her from super delegates on staff in the tournament room. The Democratic Party also gave Clinton most of the sponsorship perks, from the big “DNC” patches to the expensive pantsuits, while they only gave Sanders a small patch, one suit, and a comb.
In every interview, Clinton expresses confidence that she will win, but Sanders continues to draw a massive rail of fans and friends. Thus, he plans to keep playing until the two meet for a special heads-up match at the end of July. Both are experienced players and cannot believe that one of them will face Trump in the future.
Down to One Table
In addition to Trump, Clinton, and Sanders, a few other players have joined the table as satellite winners. Jill Stein is playing for the Green Party, and Gary Johnson representing the Libertarian Party joined the table, though they sit out most hands because they simply cannot get a word in or even get dealt any cards.
The biggest hand played recently involved all five players, but as soon as Stein and Johnson were dealt cards, the dealer just laughed and mucked their hands automatically. Their complaints to the tournament director fell on deaf ears, as he was rocking back and forth in a corner of the room at the time, unable to speak through his tears.
Trump was on the button and raised by throwing a random number of chips into the pot while eating a taco bowl. He then yelled, “I love Hispanics!” to the rail while pointing at them with his spork. The fans had no idea what he said but cheered nonetheless. Sanders was in the small blind and called, as did Clinton in the big blind.
The flop came A-K-Q with two clubs, and Sanders led out with a bet of the equivalent of $27, his standard bet. Clinton started to raise to $1 million but decided to just raise another $27 with a chuckle. Trump called and threw a tortilla chip into the pot. Sanders called. For some reason, they all then checked the 7 of hearts on the turn and the 5 of spades on the river.
Sanders showed J-T for the flopped straight, and Clinton showed pocket queens for the set. Trump then slammed his 2-3 of spades on the table and yelled, “Straight flush!”
The dealer said, “Sir, you can’t use 3-2-A-K-Q as a straight.” Trump replied, “I’ve used that before as a straight when I played at my Trump Tower home game, and I always win with it. Whatever, at least I have the flush.”
Sanders grunted, “You only have three spades, and you need five for a flush.” Trump stared at the cards and responded, “Those black cards all look the same.”
The chips were pushed to Sanders, but Clinton saw a few chips headed her way and grabbed them. “Those were meant for me. I deserve them.”
At that point, former player Lindsey Graham rushed up behind Trump, ripped the Republican patch from his suit jacket, and ran through a back door. Trump’s wife strutted over with a new patch, and she gave him a kiss on the cheek before play resumed.
Stay tuned for more updates as the tournament continues.