This is an adaptation of my recent trimmed-down posting on 2+2 (my first ever and most likely only post on the site). I don't normally post on my own website out of season (when I'm not playing in a series of tournaments), but I'd mentioned to a pal about writing something in memory of Tony since I can't be in the States for the funeral. I guess one of the benefits of having your own website is that you can say or do whatever you want within reason, so here you have it.
In Memoriam-Tony Korfman
I've probably posted on online forums less than 10 times in 10 years. It simply isn't my thing.
I first met Tony Korfman when playing in the Venetian poker room in Las Vegas several years back. We were sitting next to each other in a tournament. This seven foot tall, white haired old codger with a crutch, and a NASCAR jacket that most likely needed it's own power supply, (since it practically lit up the room) was seated to my right. I was pretty well known in Las Vegas by this time, and especially in the Venetian where I was known as the guy who basically won every other tournament he played (we call that the good old days!). Tony and I had never spoken before but I'd seen him about. Here we were seated together.
He looked me straight in the eye, and his opening line to me, totally deadpan was:
"Take your fucking hand off my knee".
I instantly replied:
"That's not my hand", to which he quickly responded with:
"Good. That's not my knee".
I liked him immediately and we became great friends, despite insulting one another very vocally throughout the entire course of our friendship. I said he was a senile old fart who reminded me of a Slinky (both would be great to push down a flight of stairs), and he said he generally only ever understood about 15% of whatever I was saying due to my accent, and suggested I learn to speak (American) English.
This whole 2+2 thread regarding an incident involving Tony can be found HERE and almost says it best about him. He was very often misunderstood by people in poker, as can always be the case with 3rd hand information (which is largely why I don't really bother with internet poker forums). At the start of the 2+2 thread everyone was up in arms, ripping into him (in his absence obviously) saying how terrible it was that someone behaves like this in poker. Then as time went on and the full story came out (he was actually sticking up for the dealer in the "strangling" incident after a busted player threw chips all over the table, and then said to the dealer "well does he have me covered?"), people got a chance to hear more about him, and see what a character he was. Someone with a great sense of personal values, an old school idea of respect, and a killer sense of humour. After a few thread pages the majority of people went from hating him to loving him.
When he heard I was launching this website, we agreed that he would endorse it with this statement on me:
"He's an asshole" - Tony Korfman.
This appealed to both our senses of humour immensely, and I'll most likely still get it on the pages here somewhere at some point.
I'm certainly not recommending him for a sainthood. He wouldn't want anything like that anyway. He had a pretty short fuse and could be as cranky as hell depending on the alignment of the planets or wether his sports team was losing. He also had a ton of issues with his personal heath and very troubled and tragic family history that the keyboard warriors had no idea about (try having your 17 year old daughter murdered by a serial killer, and see how you handle things). He had a great heart and a hundred stories to make people around him laugh, and whenever we were at the table together (many times over the years) half the table would instantly groan, half would absolutely love it and get ready for the show. He was never dull, always had an answer for everything, and was one of the few people I was always happy to see in poker. We met up and dined out frequently. He, like I, was known pretty much everywhere out there, so it was always a colourful affair, generally involving us good-naturedely ripping the shit out of most people we encountered for our own amusement. Some of the times I remember by way of example were:
Between us convincing a guy at the bar in the Mesa Grill in Caesars that Tony was actually Doyle Brunson, and that I was a dancer with Cirque du Soleil, and that we were in fact, lovers.
Playing in a sit and go together at the Venetian when he went off on a rant at a player who got pedantic about the letter of the rules. Tony called the guy an asshole,(I seem to remember he may have actually offered to stick his walking crutch up the guys ass...). The floor was called and Tony given a warning. A few minutes later he simmered down a bit and apologised to the other player for his outburst. The same player proceeded some minutes afterwards to get into another altercation with a totally different player at the table. In the midst of all this Tony suddenly piped up and addressed the guy:
"You know what? I take it all back. You ARE an asshole!!!".
Tony deciding in the middle of a tournament that the Chinese food the guy next to him was eating looked real nice. Most players would order some for themselves but Tony simply grabbed a fork and started eating the players food while his back was turned! I ended up having to buy the guy another meal to replace the one Tony started eating before the guy either had a heart attack, or called security, however it was so funny to watch I didn't mind the expense. Tony wasn't sure what all the confusion was, he just wanted some Chinese.
He mailed the book he wrote out for free to anyone who asked, and over time had helped out more Las Vegas players who were struggling than I can remember, never once making a big deal out of it.
In the last few years ill health and personal circumstances meant he played much less poker on the strip, although I still saw a fair bit of him and still met for dinner on my trips out for the WSOP, Venetian, or Wynn. I was greatly saddened to hear of his passing. He was one of my best friends in Las Vegas, and a unique guy...one of a kind. Literally.
I shall miss him very much.