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    My Second Encounter with Howard Lederer – Sort Of…

    Posted by Quad Jacks December 31, 2011

    By Marco Valerio, Dec. 31, 2011

    My first direct encounter with Howard Lederer took place on the night of June 23, 2011, when we filmed this widely viewed video. I have had no contact or correspondence with him since that incident, and I have no idea how he felt about it. (I assume, with some degree of intuition, that he wasn’t a fan.)

    Six months later, on the night of Wednesday, December 28, 2011, Zac and I got a chance to see Howard Lederer again.

    Here is an account of how it went down. (And just so you know, yes, the picture on the left is an obvious photoshop, props to Zac.)


    Zac and I are minding business at the office, when we receive the following tip from a reliable source: Howard Lederer will be at the lounge of the Artisan Hotel here in Las Vegas later in the evening, to celebrate the upcoming wedding of his sister Katy and poker player Ben Statz.

    This is not the first time since June that we’ve been informed of Howard Lederer’s whereabouts, but it is the first time that we are able to go see him again if we want to. And we do.

    Zac and I debate what our goal is this time. Sure, part of us is thinking “let’s go get another 50,000 views on a new video.” But, we also recognize the difference of the times. Back in June there was a general feeling that there was something people like Lederer could be doing about the situation (and, supposedly, weren’t doing, or weren’t telling us about). That is no longer the case. In fact, Lederer and the old gang are now in a process to be relieved of all their responsibilites, while a concert of lawyers from FTP, DOJ and GBT work out the sale of the company.

    I wouldn’t really know what to ask Lederer if I had to startle him for another fifteen seconds, and honestly, I don’t want to. We saw how little we learned the last time it happened. Plus, it’s a private party, and we’re not invited.

    But we do want to talk to Howard, if Howard will allow it. So we make our way to the Artisan.

    *** ***

    The source is correct: Two high-end European cars pull in to valet, and out come Howard Lederer, Andy Bloch, and others. The event turns out to be a small-ish bachelor party for Mr. Statz, as evidenced by a profusion of trucker hats reporting that “The Party Statz Here.” It begins indoors, and later migrates to the outside patio while Zac and I contemplate the situation further. We are well aware that we would very likely be recognized once spotted, which could be the equivalent of shouting fire in a crowded theater. It is not our intention to cause any sudden disturbance or awkwardness, in fact, the more we can go unnoticed, the better.

    Outside, a corner right before the patio provides some cover as we smoke some cigarettes and examine the scene only a few feet away from us. I see Howard. He has his back to us, and appears to be the only one at the party sitting on a chair. No one notices us from where we’re standing, but we can get a good look of mostly everyone else.

    Even by this time, Zac and I are still not exactly sure of what we should do. We definitely want to get Howard’s attention, but what am I supposed to do, barge right into the middle of the party and extend my hand to him? We decide that the most responsible thing to do is to be as inconspicuous as possible. I will present myself to someone else at the party, who could more safely relay to Howard that those QuadJacks guys are here, but that they come in peace and would like to meet him, only more formally this time.

    Andy Bloch and another individual with whom I am acquainted are standing nearby, and in a position where to accost them is to attract the least amount of attention from everyone else. Howard is still sitting with his back to me, but I am able to notice that he is growing a beard and I make a note to make plenty of references to it on the air the next week.

    I take a deep breath and walk calmly towards Bloch and my acquaintance, who are chatting to themselves.

    I greet them both politely. My acquaintance reciprocates. Andy Bloch doesn’t. He turns very apprehensive the moment he sees me (I cannot blame him), and walks right over to Howard in some kind of protective mission, so that both now have their backs to me. I cannot hear what they are saying, but Bloch may have already brought him news of my presence. I am barely three steps away from both of them.

    I have a polite and honest exchange with my acquaintance, whom I will try to enlist as the messenger. As we’re talking, I begin to notice that the general volume of the party has toned down a good deal, and I sense that some if not all the attendees may be aware of what’s going on by now. A few more individuals seem to join the protective Bloch-wall.

    To my knowledge, I am doing nothing improper. Hell, I am not even in the actual party, but standing on some steps right before the patio, having a quiet and undisruptive conversation with someone I know. I make it clear to him right away that I mean no harm or disturbance to anyone, and that we are not there to record anything. I would just like to be introduced to Howard Lederer and have a chance to speak respectfully like men, if Lederer will allow it. I am not demanding anything. Howard owes me nothing. Mine is simply a very humble request for some moments of his time.

    My acquaintance appreciates where I’m coming from, but admits he feels a little uncomfortable about the whole thing, and I understand why. But I do not relent. I try to explain to him how much I would appreciate being able to connect with Mr. Lederer on a more human level, even if for just five minutes. I would like to talk to him about our last encounter, explain to him where we were coming from, and hopefully learn how he felt about it as well. I would like to tell him that I have thought about it many times afterward, put myself in his shoes, and felt genuine empathy for him. I would tell him that I respect that he is a father, and it cannot be easy for a young boy to see his dad publicly ridiculed and repudiated. That I found that stupid cartoon where he is electrocuted and ultimately murdered to be in horrible taste, and I hope he never thinks that I subscribe to that extreme kind of media hostility. I would tell him he was one of my role models back when I used to watch poker like a fanboy, and that I still find him a very fascinating individual, especially since I read his sister Katy’s memoir, where I learned how he used his strength and intelligence to turn his life around. These are all things I really feel. And maybe he will just tell me to go to hell and get right back to his party, but at least it will have happened face to face.

    My acquaintance gives in to some sympathy – or exasperation – and without notice turns around and approaches Howard. In an effort to appear as unimposing as possible, I take a few steps back, but still close enough that Howard will see me if he turns his head. I do not see my acquaintance speak directly to Howard. Instead, he speaks to another man of some apparent Oriental persuasion whom I could not recognize. I suspect it was ultimately this one guy who made the decision. If he or my acquaintance ever spoke directly to Howard at that point, I may have missed it by briefly turning around or something.

    My acquaintance comes back to me and delivers the disappointing verdict: “Not tonight.”

    I make no further attempt to insist. I thank him, wish him well, and excuse myself.

    Zac and I resume hanging out where we were. Soon, Howard’s unidentified secretary from before walks right past us and into the bar, eyeing us unpleasantly in the process, and leading Zac to suspect that he went out to fetch Howard’s car. An attempt by Zac to greet him when he walks by us again on his return to the patio is met with deliciously obvious apathy.

    Zac and I lose faith in our hopes that Howard or associate may change their minds, so we head back inside and sit down at the bar. We then see the rest of the party re-entering in full. Everyone begins to leave, after hardly five minutes since the conclusion of the conversation I had with my acquaintance.

    *** ***

    And that, my friends, was our second encounter with Howard Lederer – sort of. I requested a brief, personally conciliatory conference with the man, and was turned away. I am sorry if you were anticipating a rooftop brawl and I couldn’t bring it to you. I myself would have preferred an ending similar to the movie Crimes and Misdemeanors, but I guess we are all disappointed.

    So why write about all of this if, in the end, nothing of any serious significance happened? Well, for one thing, I felt like it. The event was of personal significance to me, and I feel that some of those who witnessed the entire Full Tilt tragedy since the beginning like we did may still be curious enough to know how the members of the cast are faring as the story inches closer to its happy French dénouement.

    But there is also an important point to be made about Howard Lederer, and any other post-Black Friday recluse for that matter, and that is that the media, driven by the interest of the public, will continue to follow them for as long as they keep refusing to treat the public with the attention and the respect that it is entitled to. In Howard Lederer’s case, this is the public which used to trust him and enriched him and his family, which is what would morally merit even a single declaration of regret or compassion, or even acknowledgement, on his part.

    I did not show up at Wednesday’s party as media, but I have written about it now as such. In most other mainstream industries, like the entertainment one, someone of Howard Lederer’s notoriety would be mercilessly stalked and photographed anywhere he went. We choose not to be so abusive toward Howard, but it would be nice if he met us halfway.

    *** ***

    QuadJacks.com – Saturday, December 31, 2011

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