A few days ago, I posted Part 1 of my blog about the European Poker Tour Season 10 celebration video done by PokerStars and Nick Javas. If you didn’t check that out, be sure to go back and do so before checking out Part 2.
RIDE ON THE RIVER (CONTINUED)
Ride on the river…on the river
Ridin’ high on the river…on the river
Live and die on the river…on the river
No surprise on the river, you can cry me a river
In the chorus, Nick combines word play using the poker term “the river” with the catchy beat of the song for a great hook. You hear it time and time again in poker, the story of how the river either made you or broke you, but most of the time players are referencing the river card after receiving a bad beat, which so many people think always happens to them and isn’t a surprise.
Bad beat stories are a negative way to look back at a hand, only remembering the final outcome when it wasn’t in your favor. I prefer not to tell them and I don’t particularly like to listen to them. Who does? This is what Nick is speaking to when he says, “you can cry me a river.”
In Germany, McDonald only 18…years old
Maybe grinning silver, but that baby’s winnin’ gold!
Nearly got that win again in Dortmund Season 5
Path blocked by a Black Mamba, only she survived
On Season 5 of the EPT, Mike “Timex” McDonald took down the Dortmund Main Event for €933,600. What made his win so special was that Timex was only 18 years old at the time, and he was still wearing braces! Nick made note of both these observations in this verse, and it’s one of my favorites. Timex became the youngest player to ever win a major title, and I don’t see this record being broken anytime soon.
Amazingly, Timex almost went back to back at the same event the following season, but instead finished fifth for €197,000. In that event, it was Team Pro Sandra Naujoks who took home the title, donning the nickname “Black Mamba.”
Season 6, make a LIV-ing with the chips
Twelve hundred and forty…fell short, except Boeree
Super High Rollers, need a hundred K to play
Katchalov would go snatch it all in the first at PCA
Nick stayed with the women in this verse and brought up my friend and Team Pro Liv Boeree and her huge victory in Sanremo in Season 6. In that event, the field was a huge 1,240 players — the largest non-PCA EPT event ever held, and a record that still stands today. The title went to Liv as she forever etched her name in the poker history books.
In the second part of the verse, Nick brings up the start of the $100,000 Super High Roller events that kicked off at the Season 7 PCA. Team Pro Eugene Katchalov defeated superstar Daniel Negreanu in that event for the win. This was a storybook ending to this event and one that kickstarted a new era in tournament poker as super high roller tournaments began popping up more and more along the tournament circuit.
Monte Carlo, Season 9, Grand Final,
Searchin for that first win, was Lodden and Negreanu
Mercier and Cody hopin’ to pioneer a title pair
Smoke finally cleared, only O’Dwyer in that chair
In this verse, Nick focuses more on last season’s Grand Final in Monte Carlo that was won by Steve O’Dwyer. Amazingly, Lodden, Negreanu, Jake Cody (another Team Pro), and myself all made it to the final table. This was arguably the greatest EPT Main Event final table ever assembled. Lodden and Negreanu, two of the most decorated players in the game to have never won an EPT, were aiming for their first title, while Cody and myself were looking for our second title.
So the jinx lives on, even after 9 years,
We’ve never seen a double, gotta say that’s kinda weird
Matter of time indeed, it might be seen in Season 10
Sit back, enjoy the ride as that new season begins
In the final verse, Nick highlights the fact that there has never been a double EPT Main Event winner. The question of when this is going to happen has been one that’s constantly asked on the EPT because other big tours such as the World Poker Tour or World Series of Poker have seen duplicate winners. As Nick says, though, it’s really only a matter of time before it happens, and I’m personally hoping that it’s me who is the first to accomplish the goal.
TALKING TO NICK ABOUT THE CREATION OF THE SONG AND VIDEO
Nick raps with a special confidence and charisma all his own, the same kind of confidence and charisma that is seen with how many of the most successful poker players play the game. Confidence and charisma play such a big role in poker and deserve much more credit than given. When combining these two traits with more obvious ones such as talent, skill, and hard work, a player can become very, very successful in poker — it’s not just all about the cards you’re dealt.
I had the opportunity to chat with Nick a bit since first seeing the video in Barcelona. He mentioned that he plays poker about once a month with friends, but that he typically sticks to blackjack and craps when in a casino. He also told him about how excited he was to take on the challenge of meshing poker and hip-hop, which is certainly no easy job. In the past, a few people have tried to put together a poker rap, but nothing has come out nearly as good as the final product Nick produced. He is truly talented.
Nick told me that he spent a lot of time developing this piece of work since it covered a much larger time span than any of his other similar projects. As I said before, packing nine seasons of the EPT into three and a half minutes isn’t easy, but Nick happily took on the challenge and succeeded. He also said that the music production by Versatile made the “Ride on the River” an enjoyable one.
While I’ve been a poker player for several years now and traveled to many EPTs, someone less in tune with the tour and the industry might find putting something together like this an extremely daunting task. I asked Nick about the help he received while doing his research for the song, and he quickly mentioned the help he got from James Hartigan that made the process far less tedious than it would have been. Nick said James sent him a detailed eight-page document highlighting all the key moments in the history of the EPT. He then took to studying, marking the page with notes and covering it in highlighter ink, while in the process of creating his rhymes. He also took the time to review plenty of EPT footage online to really get a feel for the stories and key moments that James had outlined. Eventually, he was able to get it down to a little over three-minutes for the song.
Nick is widely known for his productions involving sports, namely the NFL where his “NFL Rhyme Reel” became a viral hit. This was an NFL recap show set to the beat and lyrics created by Nick. From the success of this show stemmed a deal with Pepsi and Cornerstone Promotions that Nick earned. From this deal, the “Pepsi Max NFL Audible” was created and that later turned into the “Pepsi Max NFL Rookie Audible.”
Nick and I got to talking a little bit about how this project compared to his other endeavors. He said that doing a poker song was a bit different due to the intensity and energy of the game in comparison to sports he normally covers such as the NFL, NBA, and Major League Baseball. Those games have a much higher tempo than poker, but he pointed out that it doesn’t mean poker is any less intense. He added that it was very important for him and Versatile to really capture the intensity of poker without going overboard with the energy and tempo of the song.
I thought it was funny when I found out how Nick went about making the video. As you can see in parts of the video, Nick is actually on the tournament floor with some of the players at EPT Barcelona. There were times he was standing right behind me, silently lip-syncing while I was playing, and I didn’t even know!
Nick said that after hearing the final mix for the audio, he thought they had nailed it. He said he even played it for his Dad, who was completely blown away. He mentioned his Dad is a man who is typically very hard to please and rarely shows emotion, so this was awesome to hear. I’m really happy that Nick is very pleased with the final product. He said that he felt he was playing with house money because he knew exactly what he was getting into with the making of the video, having previously worked with Director of Photography Frank Baglino on the MLB project. Once he then met Executive Producer Francine Watson and Senior Producer Ben Strivens, knew for sure that this would not only be a great success, but a great time.
One of the really cool things that Nick talked about was the reception he received personally from members of the EPT crew. Nick said that some of the members expressed how this song moved them nearly to tears, explaining how he was able to recap the last nine years of their lives. From talking to Nick, I can really tell that those reactions meant a lot to him. He said it’s moments like those that help him get through the tough times in his career.
I’d really like to hand it to Nick for a job well done and an amazing product. This video and song are something that will now be around a long time and are particularly close to me. I love what he’s done here and I can only hope that there are more opportunities for Nick and PokerStars to work together on more projects down the road. You can check out Nick’s website by clicking here.