Donald Trump: Fired Up About Poker

Interviewing the owner of Atlantic City’s premiere card room should be a shoe-in for the editor of your favorite poker magazine. Unless of course the owner of that card room also happens to be one of New York’s most powerful real estate developers and the host of America’s hottest television show. But nonetheless, I have snapped at Trump’s heels long enough to get the goods on the man that made the phrase ‘Your Fired’ part of the nation’s vernacular.

Bluff Editor Michael Caselli tries to get Trump to notice him long enough to get an exclusive with the busiest man in Manhattan.

The Taj Mahal, called the ‘Taj’ by those in the know, was considered the most lavish building on the East Coast when it was unveiled in 1990. The Taj boasted a billion dollar price tag and enough gold leaf (realgold mind you) to fill Solomon’s mine. The chandeliers alone were claimed to have cost The Donald $14 million and the building took 4 and _ times more steel than did the Eiffel Tower. Trump Says: The Taj Mahal’s poker room is lavish and expansive. I made it a showcase area in the casino because Poker is a classic game and deserves a prominent setting. Prominent it is; with the room’s latest expansion taking it to 70 tables, and with Trump giving the nod on further expansion if our favorite sport gets even bigger than it is today. And tournaments are also part of the plan for the palatial card room “We are hosting two major tournaments, the United States Poker Championship and the Trump Classic at the Taj Mahal, there could be more.”

“Certain things go in and out of vogue. Poker gains players by exposure.” According to Trump who realizes that, like the real estate market in the late ’80, anything can go tits up in an instant when trends go south. But Trump knows that there is a community in poker that doesn’t exist anywhere else. “It seems people like gathering to play a certain group of friends, it becomes almost like a ritual. Poker and The Apprentice both are pop culture, both equally cool, except for the major player in the apprentice”. Except for the major player? We wonder, is Trump making a joke, so we asked him. What did he say…”Jokes are a waste of time.”

Is the Trumpster a poker player? Unfortunately he doesn’t have too much time for the game these days. He owns a poker room, he knows poker, he likes the game, but his manicured hands don’t get to hold the Hold’em cards all that often. But he does tell us who on The Apprentice would make the best poker player. “George Ross is the person on The Apprentice who would be best at poker. He plays Solitaire on his computer in his office, pretty much all day every day, and he plays to win at everything he does.” Solitaire all day? Hummm, if anyone at Bluff did that I think he’d hear Trumpism “Your Fired!”.

So what of Trump’s big bets? He wouldn’t tell us the biggest bet he’s ever made in his business career, but he did tell us that he “Has a cool poker-face in business.” “So what tells do you have Mr. Trump that we at Bluff might watch out for in our next monopoly-sized business venture with Trump International?” “Michael, I wouldn’t tell you if I had one.”

Mr. Trump is obviously a man with impeccable taste. He has visited the best of everywhere, and in many cases bought them right afterwards. We wanted to take style tips from the man who’s 282 foot yacht cost more than kidney transplants for Rhode Island. So we asked “Mr. Trump tell us what holiday spot is a Royal Flush, what wine is guaranteed Pocket Aces and what restaurant is The Nuts”. Confidently, and with unique Trump-style, he owns all his favorite spots. “My Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, is unmatched anywhere in the world. I do not drink wine. My favorite restaurant is Jean Georges in the Trump International Hotel & Tower in New York City.” So what are the chances that Bluff are invited to dinner with Trump at Jean Georges? I’m not holding my breath, but the $115 tasting menu may whet my appetite the next time I’m up in NYC, especially since I can truthfully say ‘The Donald recommended you to me!’

Speaking of dinner company… we took the old question “If you could invite any six people to dinner who would they be?” and swapped dinner with a poker game (clever us?).

“Winston Churchill, Napoleon, Abraham Lincoln, Robert Moses, Leonardo da Vinci and Amadeus Mozart.” Interesting choice Mr. Trump…a group of people who never played poker before. I see, a veritable fish tank, we like your style.

Not as Machiavellian as I suspected…”I’d like to see how each of them operated and if they employed the golden section equation in their thinking and playing.”

Looks like someone’s been reading Dan Brown in their free time. “We know Mozart used it subconsciously, which might give him an edge, but this group would be interesting to watch.” Which makes us wonder if Phil Ivey uses the Devine Equation in his play? But like any great player, when pressed to assess his confidence Trump adds “Would I win…Most Likely.”

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December 2004