Friday, December 22, 2006

The Brandi Hawbaker Files, Volume II

NSFW posting, of course. Not that you had any doubts.

This site was one of the first to report on the strange doings involving Brandi Hawbaker, she of the one-time chip lead at last June's Festa al Lago poker tourney at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Hawbaker's most recent return to the site of her breakthrough in the poker world this past weekend came amid a series of strange events. Several sources reported that she and Dutch Boyd were "holding court" at the Bellagio, where the Doyle Brunson North American Poker Championship was underway.

Strange stuff, indeed. We reported here on Hawbaker's original allegations, as posted on the 2+2 forums, concerning a bizarre and unwanted sexual advance from "Captain" Tom Franklin, a veteran pro who won a WSOP bracelet in a $2,500 limit Omaha event, has made a Main Event final table, and can be charitably described as one of the more colorful members of the poker world. (Double entendre noted, of course.)

In any event, what initially seemed to be just a strange tale of a backing deal gone bizarrely wrong soon evolved into a tale of scams and cheating and warped behavior that dragged in several more of poker names, from the aforementioned Boyd to Mark Newhouse, a recent WPT championship.

In the interest of brevity, we'll just highlight some of the more notable allegations of the forums-based war, which has dragged in issues from parts unknown and has resulting in a general airing of a little bit of poker's dirty laundry. So, a quick recap:

Hawbaker's original post, titled "Never Trust Anyone," details how Franklin reportedly made a penis-on-the-back-in-the-middle-of-the-night advance on Hawbaker, in a shared hotel room with what seems to have been separate beds. Further allegations against Franklin involved his general marital infidelity and his withholding of several thousands of Hawbaker's own poker bankroll, which for reasons not yet completely understood Hawbaker is supposed to have turned over to Frsnklin for management.

Hawbaker, for her part, then seems to have screamed bloody hell across the top tier of the poker world, with perhaps the most hilarious development being her enlistment of Dutch Boyd to help her recover her money from Franklin. Never mind that Dutch was in the midst of his own psychotic episode as all this was unfolding, a separate tale sadly recounted at several other spots on the Web. Soon enough, Dutch and Brandi were alternately snuggling for the cameras and accusing each other and third parties unknown of stealing each other' passports, but that was about the tamest part of Dutch's weekend. While Dutch is in many poker circles a pariah, and the thought of using Dutch Boyd to recoup bankroll losses falls somewhere between eye-rolling and guffaw-inducing, there were other, more serious problems occurring on the Dutch front.

But back to Brandi. Amazingly, her efforts to attack Franklin proved to be her undoing, not because of what Franklin may have done, but because her own house was far from clean. Soon enough, in response to Brandi's own demands that he step forward and clear her name, Mark Newhouse soon arrived to turn the tale on its ear --- Hawbaker was the known con artist, regardless of anything Franklin might have done, and Hawbaker had gamboooled away roughly $30,000 from Newhouse's Poker Stars account, from his hotel room, while Newhouse was embroiled in his own losing poker sessions down on the casino floor.

The issue here turned out to be not that Newhouse had unwisely given Hawbaker access to his account, but that Hawbaker had gone beyond the pre-agreed limits and mega-tilted away money not her own. In addition, she not only lied to Newhouse about the scope of the losses, she actually changed his account password in an attempt to further disguise her actions.

Further digging by the 2+2 busybodies soon uncovered hand histories and performance charts for the timespan when Hawbaker had free reign over Newhouse's account, with the general consensus --- agreed with by this blogger, sadly --- was that Brandi Hawbaker, disregarding all the other stuff, was playing some wretched poker.

But the details and the weird histrionics took this one to absurdist heights, including the following:

1) Hawbaker had promised anal sex to a former boyfriend in exchange for a tournament buy-in, and made a similar offer (perhaps in jest) to Newhouse;

2) Some weird sort of sex did occur between Hawbaker between Newhouse;

3) After a major blowup connected to the plundered account, Hawbaker went on a hysterical, faux-suicidal bent, slashing herself with glass from a broken wine bottle and (according to Newhouse), wrote "I will fly one day" in blood on the bathroom wall;

4) After cajoling a few thousand dollars from name pros to live on, she spent a good portion of the money on Bebe tops and satellite buy-ins;

5) Newhouse had been played for a sucker on at least one previous occasion. His Stars account had reportedly been broken into by aspiring poker player Chantel McNulty and Dustin "Neverwin" Woolf, and emptied of something like $150,000. All this occurred as he was reportedly to have been bleeding away a good portion of the cash from his breakthrough WPT win. Of course, that last stuff happens every day; throughout poker history, players achieve a breakthrough vitory, try to step it up a couple of notches, and come crashing back down to earth;

6) Hawbaker, in her own words, is a "burner," an exhibitionist, really digging all that Burning Man stuff, and as a offshoot of that, there are links within the thread to revealing Hawbaker photos that she seems quite pleased to have posed for. She's not shy, that girl.

7) The phrase "Captain Tom" now has its own entry at

Note that we're not even geting into all the stuff brought in on wild, lose threads, such as veteran poster "el Diablo"'s accusations that Darrel "Gigabet" Dicken was a noted multi-accounter in the manner of Justin "ZeeJustin" Bonomo. If you're wondering how one can get that far afield in a thread of this nature, that's just how wild and crazy a ride it's been.

Your blogger's not quite sure what the moral is in this ultra-seedy octupus of a tale that's now, in just its primary thread on 2+2, spawned nearly 4,300 posts. There's no shortage of victims, nor fools. At the very least, Hawbaker (and McNulty) seem exposed as part of a possibly burgeoning wave of poker-world golddiggers, and Hawbaker's own disassociative behaviors and paralogical thinking suggest that it'll be a while, if ever, before she makes another deep run in a major event. Another aspect concerns new poker players such as Newhouse, who might know the game damn well, but come out of a tale like this appearing somewhere between socially inept and blindly pathetic.

Rumor even has David Sklansky, 2+2 boss hiself, catching major heat from Tom Franklin for allowing this mass of -whatever- to roll on in the way it has. Hard to say what fallout might occur from that, but it's likely that it would involve further exploration of the original Hawbaker accusations against Franklin.

In the last 24 hours or so the thread has finally died down. Who knows what's next, or if the bizarre episode has finally run its course?

1 comment:

Matt Piazza said...

I had my dealings with Captain "Con" Franklin 17 years ago at the Regency Club in Bell and Bell Gardens.

He "borrowed" $5,000 from me after we had a friendship going and then never paid me back. When I went to his house one night to ask for the money, he actually pulled a gun at me and pointed it straight at my face.

When I sued him in small claims court (I had him sign a loan) and won, he filed bankruptcy. Anyone could look up this case in the early 90's and see my name as a creditor (my name is Matt Piazza).

Many people from the Bicycle Club, where Captain "Con" used to be a poker dealer, know what a sleaze bag this guy is. I used to say that "everyone has a Tom Franklin story."

The shocking thing is that Doyle Brunson was backing this loser of a person.

My new hero is Brandi Hawbaker. There is no question that her version was the truth.