LAS VEGAS—Comedian Rick Moranis offered apologies but not excuses Monday, saying his last-place finish in last weekend's Aces Go All-In For Children Texas Hold-'Em Poker Tournament at the Luxor Hotel & Casino was due to his inability to stay calm during the high-stakes game, a condition reflected by his almost-constantly spinning bow tie.
"It's not that I wasn't getting good cards," said the 53-year-old comic and country-and-western novelty-song writer, who was playing at a table alongside singer Meat Loaf, actors John C. Reilly and Brad Garrett, and former quarterback Dan Fouts while representing his own Honey, I Drastically Shrunk The Odds Of The Kids Contracting Childhood Leukemia Foundation. "My cards were no better or worse than anyone else's. But every time they were worth betting, that bow tie would start going again."
Scrutiny of videotapes made of the mere 36 hands in which Moranis took part before losing his entire $50,000 stack of chips reveals bow-tie-rotation incidents on nine viewings of his pocket cards, including three instances of paired face cards; 11 incidents of bow-tie rotation on Moranis' inspection of favorable "flop" or community cards; and two especially strong bow-tie rotations—one of which blew Moranis' lucky beanie straight up in the air, where it rotated independently for several seconds—which occurred when the former SCTV star realized he had built strong inside straights.
On each hand, Moranis' opponents folded immediately after Moranis' bow tie began spinning.
"It was devastating, really," said professional Internet and tournament poker player Chris Moneymaker, a special guest of the tournament. "Every celebrity player has 'tells' that clue you in to their hand—Kathy Griffin always talks about how her face cards look gay if she has them, Dennis Miller cracks wise about the Lincoln-Douglas debates when he's holding crap, and Lars Ulrich sits up really straight and glares intensely at the dealer when he likes his hand. But poor Rick—every time he drew good cards, it was, like, 'Fwee!'"
"Later, when he finally thought to take it off, he kept nervously looking at his watch before check-bets," Moneymaker added. "That caused him to dump his drink out into his lap, which didn't help."
For his last dozen hands, Moranis adopted a strategy of playing "high and tight," or betting aggressively even on non-favorable, non-tie-activating hands. However, the stress of doing so made Moranis perspire to such a degree that miniature windshield wipers were needed to sluice the moisture off Moranis' eyeglasses, which in turn clued his opponents that seeing and raising his bets would most likely be to their advantage.
Further eroding his confidence and concentration, the normal necktie Moranis futilely chose to wear for the second half of the tournament repeatedly stood straight out from his collar with a hollow "diving board" sound every time consolation-round opponent Eva Longoria leaned over to collect her winnings.
"Face it—sometimes it just isn't your day," Moranis later told reporters, admitting he was "probably a better comedian than a poker player" and vowing to return for next year's event. "And this certainly wasn't mine. At times like this, all you can do is stand up from the table with pride as your shirt rolls up like a window blind and walk away with your dignity intact and your pants bunched defiantly around your ankles."