In fulfilling a dream he’s had for years, in a game that demands intense concentration and the ability to react quickly to your opponents’ moves, goaltender Roberto Luongo is wearing the logo of PlayNow.com and not the Vancouver Canucks.
Having survived Day 1a of the esteemed World Series of Poker, Luongo — ever the subject of trade speculation this summer — is enjoying a break from the hockey talk to focus on cards.
“This was a good change of scenery for me to get my mind off it a little bit and do something that I love,” Luongo, 33, told PokerListings.com of the game he grew attached to online and through reading poker books during the NHL’s last work stoppage.
“During the NHL lockout in 2004-05 I had a lot of time on my hands,” he said. “I started playing more and reading books about it. I also started playing online. I was fascinated and wanted to learn as much as I could.”
Funded by British Columbia Lottery Corp., Luongo was able to flip the $10,000 buy-in to join 1,065 other players in the casino for the opening session of the prestigious tournament’s main event, and was able to increase his chip count after one day at the tables.
All players began with 30,000 in chips. Rookie Luongo finished the first day with 44,800 and outlasted first-day casualty Ray Romano. (Luongo’s brother Fabio, however, amassed 77,825 chips.)
“As a goaltender, you have to have a tremendous amount of focus at all times and you need to have that when you’re playing poker,” he said. “You can’t have lapses or it will cost you.”
In a pair of interviews, one that gives insight into NHLers’ tendency for loose play and one that’s just plain awkward, Luongo talks cards and not trade rumours.
Luongo’s second day at the tables will be Tuesday. By July 16, the WSOP’s final table of nine players will be determined.
Luongo talks about the level of poker in the NHL:
And now for a more awkward Luongo interview…