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Huyser unable to commit to meeting place for Vegas trip

Attitude may be due to devastating poker loss

October 31, 2000

CHILI BANDITO'S, LA MESA -- In a surprise move Monday night, Paul Huyser announced to a group of friends that he could "not commit" to meeting at Mike Stefanidis' office for a scheduled February Las Vegas trip.

"Maybe I'll be there, maybe I won't," said an agitated Huyser. "I just can't commit at this time"

Huyser, who has been described by acquaintances as "usually pretty easy-going about that sort of thing," might have still been stinging over a huge poker loss when he made the comments.

"Paul was actually having a pretty good night," said friend Mark DeVol of the weekly poker game, which took place just prior to Huyser's comments. "He was up until the very end. Then he dealt Pai Gow (poker) with a fifty-dollar bank, and Mike (Stefanidis) basically one-shotted him every time."

Pai Gow poker is a card game combining the ancient tile game of Pai Gow and modern day poker.

"He dealt four hands, and got king-high on the last one," added DeVol. "Mike killed him."

Huyser's loss for the night was initially estimated at $120, which would have placed him close to the all-time loss set by Stefanidis last year. But analysts set Huyser's loss closer to $107.

Still, a $107 loss is a bad night of cards.

Frank Farrell, another poker regular, wasn't surprised at Huyser's losing night. "Mike announced to everyone at the hockey game the other night that he'd be coming after Paul at cards," said Farrell. "And Paul basically said to him, 'Come and get me.' I knew it was going to be a bloodbath, with either Mike or Paul a big loser. I'm just glad I didn't get caught in the crossfire."

Another poker player, Phil LaBarbera, was originally slated to be the one Stefanidis went after Monday night. Some have speculated that Stefanidis decided to go after Huyser instead because he thought LaBarbera might have been too scared to attend the game otherwise. LaBarbera denies the allegations. "Hey, I was ready for Mike if he wanted to come after me. And if he wants to come after me in the future, then bring it on. My wallet's full."

Huyser's comments place a cloud of uncertainty over the status of the Las Vegas trip, which has been arranged to allow the participants to attend the opening game of the Outlaws, the new Las Vegas XFL team.

But Stefanidis is not worried. "Paul will show. He'll gripe and bicker up to the bitter end, but I guarantee that come February 2, he'll show up at my office."

Mike Coyne, another poker regular, agrees. "Usually if Mike guarantees something, you can pretty much assume it WON'T happen. But in this case, I think he's right."

Whether or not Huyser does show at Stefanidis' office, it's clear that he does plan on going on the trip. When told that due to pre-arranged seating he'd have to sit by himself on the plane, Huyser proclaimed, "I've got no problem with that."

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