On Saturday, celebrities and poker pros gathered at the Commerce Casino to christen its World Poker Tour Walk of Fame.
The event featured a Chinese Theater, hands-in-concrete-like ceremony in which poker icon Doyle "Texas Dolly" Brunson was inducted, along with hot young WPT champion Gus Hansen, and actor James Garner, whose memorable run on TV’s "Maverick" brought poker into living rooms across America.
The induction ceremony also kicked off Commerce Casino’s L.A. Poker Classic’s championship tournament, a $10,000 game of no limit hold ”˜em.
In addition to the inductees’ memorialization in concrete, their tribute includes a depiction of one of their most famous poker hands and a giant-sized poker chip.
Here are brief bios of the inaugural inductees:
Doyle "Texas Dolly" Brunson ”” A holder of nine world championship titles, Brunson, in his 70s, is one of the most respected players in the game. He authored "Super/System: How I Made Over $1,000,000 Playing Poker," a book which serves as the bible for aspiring pros and amateurs alike. For more than five decades Brunson has been a feared competitor and consummate gentleman, establishing the standard of excellence to which many aspired and few achieved. His latest achievement was appearing at the final table in last year’s WPT Championship.
Gus "The Great Dane" Hansen ”” The handsome young Danish-born Hansen is widely regarded to be the best poker player in the world. He burst onto the poker tour last year winning two major WPT tournaments and over $1 million in the WPT’s inaugural year. Steely and hard-to-read, he is known for his unpredictable play and willingness to take huge risks. He represents the future of the game of poker.
James Garner ”” From 1957-60, Garner charmed the nation as the unflappable Brett Maverick, the skilled poker-player, who used his wits to get him out of scrapes””with the law and with outlaws. Cool, good-natured and likeable, he was one of television’s first engaging Western heroes. Maverick became synonymous with poker and certainly helped to popularize the game.
The induction ceremony was staged on the doorstep of Commerce Casino, one of Los Angeles’ most prestigious gaming establishment and full service entertainment/hotel complex. Commerce Casino is the world’s largest poker room with more than 200 poker tables, featuring all variations of poker at all limits. Poker room to the stars of Hollywood, Commerce Casino has a rich history of poker in Southern California dating back to 1983.
The WPT Poker Walk of Fame is embedded in the forecourt entrance to Commerce Casino. The inductees put their hands in concrete, surrounding a large depiction of a stylized poker chip. In addition, there for each there is a unique depiction of the player’s most famous poker hand. The company responsible for the Mann’s Chinese Theatre forecourt, Sabor Construction, also made the gold-embossed designations for the Poker Walk of Fame.
"The World Poker Tour is bringing millions of new fans to the game of poker," noted Steve Lipscomb, WPT founder and CEO. "It is important that we ”” as a caretaker of the poker tradition ”” preserve the history of the game and pay tribute to those who are creating its new history. We need to recognize those players and individuals who are contributing to the game’s storied past and insuring its continuity as The Great American card game."
Commerce officials said they were thrilled with the new attraction and expected plenty of tourists and poker fans to visit the site.
"With the huge resurgence of poker today by players and television viewers, we anticipate playing host to thousands of enthusiasts who want to venerate their favorite players and appreciate their achievements by strolling the World Poker Tour Poker Walk of Fame," said Commerce Casino’s Casino Manager Tim Gustin.
More celebrity action at the Commerce Casino is scheduled on Wednesday, when celebrities and poker superstars gather for the World Poker Tour Invitational.
The tourney will be filmed for the upcoming second season of the WPT on the Travel Channel.
Expected to attend are celebrities James Wood, Aisha Tyler, Ron Livingston, Mimi Rogers, Stephen Collins, Ed Asner, Jennifer Tilly, Jon Favreau, Lou Diamond Phillips, David Arquitte, Camryn Manheim, Norm McDonald, Howie Mandel, Kathy Griffin and dozens more.
Poker pros expected to attend include T.J. Cloutier, Alan Goehring, Clonie Gowen and others.
At stake is a huge prize pool, a seat at the World Poker Tour finals this spring, and a $5,000 donation to the celebrity’s favorite charity.