A Visit to the Past with Howard Lederer

Now and then a forgotten memory floating down a long distant brain spark happens to explode into full view again as it snags on a present thought. I’ll blame it on watching the Deep Space Nine series on Netflix.

One of the producers/directors/creators of the show is Rick Berman. Each time I see the credits after the opening scene of the latest episode, his name pops up. It always makes me think of Rick Bierman.

In a way, I can be credited with helping Howard Lederer become ‘The Professor’ in the videos he created some years ago…back in early 2004 is the time line. I got my first email from Rick Bierman:

——– Original Message ——–
Subject: Howard Lederer
Date: Mon, 5 Jan 2004 15:09:05 -0800
From: Rick Bierman
Reply-To:
To:

To Whom It May Concern,

I am trying to contact Howard Lederer and have been unable to find an e-mail
address or telephone number for Howard. Any help you could provide would be
greatly appreciated.

Rick Bierman
949-492-xxxx

Outgoing mail is certified Virus Free.
Checked by AVG anti-virus system (http://www.grisoft.com).
Version: 6.0.548 / Virus Database: 341 – Release Date: 12/5/2003

….

Yes, I’m anal, I save emails for 3 million years or so. And any links that are left in these emails go to a ‘not found’ url – except mine of course.

My response:

On 1/5/2004 4:22 PM, Linda R. Geenen wrote:
> I’m printing your message and taking it to Bellagio tonight. Will give it
> to the appropriate person.
>
> You’re welcome in advance.
>
> Linda R. Geenen
> http://pokerworks.com
> When the going gets tough, the tough just re-buy!

….

I could copy/paste all the emails here but it’s not worth the effort. Most of it was my relaying to Rick – and him responding to me on contacting Howard. I do find this email to be important because he wants Howard to know that his company is not ‘flakey’ like some companies out there.

On 1/7/2004 9:55 AM, Rick Bierman wrote:
> Linda,
>
> Did you have any luck getting my message through to Howard? If not, and
> there is another way that you could suggest I try to reach Howard directly,
> I would appreciate your help. If Howard needs to know that we are a real
> company, not one of the many flakes who probably try and contact him, you
> can refer him to our web site, www.tpsmsportsagents.com
>
> Rick

….

I printed that message and took it into Bellagio with me, hoping to give it to Suzie to give to Howard since she worked the same shift I did – with different days off. But she was sick or something came up and she didn’t come in. I finally emailed it to her.

Through numerous more emails, Rick was coming into Vegas and wanted to meet me, and asked if we couldn’t get Howard, who I would recommend in this email:

——– Original Message ——–
Subject: RE: Howard Lederer
Date: Fri, 9 Jan 2004 15:50:25 -0800
From: Rick Bierman
Reply-To:
To: Linda R. Geenen

Linda,

We manage and promote athletes in various sports and have decided to get
into poker which is why we want to speak to Howard. If you are thinking
about writing a book, it probably would be worthwhile for you and I to talk
when we speak to the poker player we choose to include in our venture,
regardless of whether it is Howard. I will call you when I know when we
will be in Las Vegas speaking to that poker player to see if you are
available and interested in speaking in person.

Since it sounds like you have been around poker for a long time and have
seen alot, if Howard isn’t the one we end up working with, who would you
recommend as someone who has some industry recognition, is a decent person,
and has enough business sense to recognize the potential of a business
opportunity?

Rick

….

I saw Suzie at work and asked if she had forwarded the email to Howard. She said yes but she was surprised that he hadn’t responded since he was usually so good about answering emails. And then not long after, I spotted Howard standing up in the high limit section, by the wall, and walked up to ask him, hence my next email:

On 1/13/2004 4:25 PM, Linda R. Geenen wrote:
> Hi Rick,
>
> I managed to speak with Howard on Friday night, regarding your email. He
> was waiting for Suzie and his sister, Annie Duke. They were going out.
>
> I asked if he had received your email, he said, yes and that he was
> extremely busy, they were launching a website soon, etc.
>
> I spoke to Suzie last night at work and she said she was really surprised
> that Howard hadn’t replied to you because he’s usually very conscientious
> about answering everyone…and that he is really busy.
>
> I’ve put on my thinking cap and am trying to find someone to recommend -
> Howard would have been my first choice too – some of them are such flakes
> and idiots, even if they win major tournaments, it doesn’t mean they are a
> solid foundation to represent anyone. I’ll put more thought into it.
>
> I would like to visit with you. I’m a day sleeper, night worker. What time
> zone are you in? My # is 702-838-xxxx, I’m usually up until about 7 a.m.
> and then wake up around 3 p.m. I have weekends off.
>
> Thanks,
> Linda R. Geenen
> http://pokerworks.com
> When the going gets tough, the tough just re-buy!

….

Then I received an email from Rick with an attachment that he wanted me to print out and give to Howard- that was on January 13th, 2004. Here it is:

Rick Bierman
Total Package Sports Management
21 Alba West
Irvine, CA 92620

Howard,

We are an entertainment management firm. We represent professional athletes in their relationships with professional sports organizations. We represent professional actors in their relationships with movie and television projects. We also have a division of our firm that creates projects for the “talent” that we represent in order to maximize the earning opportunity for both that talent and us.

We have put created a project that will capitalize on the recent increase in national exposure to poker. After a significant amount of due diligence, we have come to the conclusion that you may be the best candidate to participate in this project. As I am sure you can understand, the confidentiality of the project may impact its successful launch, and I am therefore constrained to provide additional details before we actually meet in person.

In order to stay on deadline for this project, I need to source the talent who is going to participate in the project before February 3. In that regard, I am able to come to Las Vegas prior to that date for the sole purpose of spending an hour with you so that we can both determine if it is in our respective interests to pursue this project together. I know you don’t know me, but I feel very strongly that it would be worth an hour of your time to at least explore whether what we are doing might be compatible with your best interests. I can assure you that the financial upside of what we discuss will at least justify an hour of your time.

You may respond as to your availability either by calling me at my cell phone, 714-310-5074, or by having Suzie convey the message through Linda Geenen. If you are willing to meet me please specify which day, and a convenient time and place. My preference would be for lunch or dinner. I look forward to meeting you in person.

Rick Bierman
714-573-xxxx

….

So…I found Howard’s email address at Cox.net, sent it to Rick with a recommendation for Mark Seif and Mori Eskandani. Some may question my choices but I have knowledge of both of them and they are ‘good for the game’ and possibly weren’t what Rick was looking for but one door opens to another and they may have been very worthy contributors to bringing more poker to more people – and that has always been my goal. Let’s keep the game moving and bring in new players.

The next email from Rick:

On 1/15/2004 4:37 PM, Rick Bierman wrote:
> Linda,
>
> Howard called me this morning, and after describing his schedule for the
> next two weeks, we came to the conclusion that if we didn’t meet tomorrow,
> it wasn’t going to happen at all. I have rearranged my schedule to free up
> the three hours it takes to come to Las Vegas tomorrow to meet Howard, but
> because of the time constraints can’t even entertain the possibility of
> meeting with anyone else. I would have liked to have spoken in person to
> you, and possibly Morie, but as I guess you would say, it’s not in the
> cards.
>
> Even if Howard and I can come to terms on the project, I will have to come
> to Las Vegas in the next two weeks to speak to a couple of casinos about
> getting involved with the project. One of those we have targeted, as I am
> sure you would have guessed, is the Bellagio. The other is Binions. If
> Howard doesn’t work out, I will try and contact both Morie and Seif over the
> weekend to try and get a feel for whether either of them could be successful
> with what we are doing. Either way, I will be in Las Vegas in the next week
> or so, and would like to meet you in person, and at least let you know what
> we are really up to.
>
> I would appreciate you keeping my meeting with Howard between us as I am not
> interested in anyone else tempted to become aware of what we are doing.
> Thanks again for your help, and I look forward to meeting you.
>
> Rick

….

Just in case anyone reading this figures I can’t keep a secret or know when to shut my mouth, can go take a flying leap. All of this is done, over with, and out the window. Keep reading and you’ll get the point.

On 1/16/2004 6:42 PM, Rick Bierman wrote:
> Linda,
>
> I met with Howard for a couple of hours today, and you don’t need to change
> your image of him. He is bright, thoughtful, very communicative, and seems
> to be just a very decent human being. I won’t know for about a week whether
> we are going to reach an agreement with him, but I just thought you might
> want to know that you are certainly a good judge of character.
>
> Rick

….

And this is how I became the dealer in the videos:

On 2/4/2004 4:07 PM, Rick Bierman wrote:
> Linda,
>
> As I am sure you may have guessed, the project with Howard is an
> instructional video. We are scheduled to shoot in Las Vegas next Thursday
> and Friday. I still would appreciate it if you would not say anything to
> anyone because the more lead time we have, the better.
>
> A portion of the instructional video requires that we have about an hour or
> so worth of hands dealt to players during the afternoon on Thursday. I was
> wondering if you wanted to deal for us, and maybe line up a couple of women
> who would like to play the part of players. Naturally, we will pay you and
> the women. Let me know if you would like to participate and if you have a
> couple of females who would like to spend a couple of hours in the studio.
> By the way, if you want to deal, you just need to dress as a dealer would
> without any Bellagio logo.
>
> Rick

So…this is it for me today. I’ll be back tomorrow to finish this little poker tale.

About Linda R. Geenen

The easiest way to begin is to start at the beginning. But where is that? At what point does one suddenly decide they are going to spend the rest of their life involved in the intricate art of the dance? What is the art of the dance? A game about people - played with a deck of cards. Poker! I stepped into the poker world in 1980 in Missoula, Montana. I didn't know anything about poker, couldn't tell you what the difference was between a bet and raise, or if a straight beat a flush. I had three boys to feed, needed a job and a dealing spot was open in one of the local bars. I played my first hand of poker in a 5 Card Stud game (with the help of one of my bosses) and that was it! I was hooked. I lived, breathed, slept, dreamed, ate, and talked poker. I eventually ran my own games (licensed by the County) in several different bars in Missoula, and at one point, managed the games in the bar where I started my first dealing job. In 1987 I traveled from Montana to Nevada to deal major poker tournaments, returning to Montana at the end of each one. In 1989, I opened The Mirage – along with 6,400 other people. In 1993, I moved to Gulfport, Mississippi, and opened Grand Casinos Poker Room, returning a year later to Las Vegas and The Mirage. In 1998 I opened Bellagio - along with over 9,000 other employees. In 2003, I dealt the final table of the Aruba Ultimate Bet Poker Classic event. Hey…I’m on TV! I had the privilege of being chosen as the dealer in the Howard Lederer videos that have been released on No Limit Holdem. I play poker on a regular basis and I deal to every name brand player that is still above ground and breathing air, the elite, the freaks, the ne’er do wells, the rich, the poor, the illiterate, the educated, the beautiful, the ugly, the superstitious, the rational, the sane, and the insane. Perhaps I am the one that is insane but if I am, I fit right into the game plan. Five nights a week I walk into the greatest, social melting pot known to mankind. I no longer dream about it but the art of the dance is prevalent in everything I do - see you there!
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