|Sexton's Corner, Vol.69, Part 2
"NLOP President Is Inspirational Leader"
ast week we introduced the NLOP’s new President, Vincent
Zaldivar, who led his new team about 60 days ago to buy out
NLOP. In Part 1 we talked about the necessity Vince found himself
in to take care of his Mom and three sisters while he was still in
High School. By the way, Vince attended Bonanza High School in
Las Vegas, and was a star offensive lineman as well as a
defensive standout. He was good and big enough to play both
ways. He was 6’5” and weighed 310 lbs.!
Vince tells the story of turning in his cleats and uniform in after his
sophomore year. He said, “When I approached Coach he said,
“What is it Double ZZ?” Coach always called me that since it was
easier to say than Zaldivar. I continued with: “Coach, I’m going to
have to turn in my uniform, because I’m not going to be able to
play football anymore. Coach yelled out, “What are you talking
about………why not?” “I’ve been accepted to the Las Vegas
Academy of Arts to study the piano.” Coach shrieked
out……………“The piano?” His Coach was more than slightly
perplexed, as he never had a giant lineman on his football team
leave for this reason!
Today Vince is an accomplished jazz pianist that has performed and raised money for several charities. The weekend before I was able to interview him, he
had been invited to the Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills for a charity event. As an invited guest to the party nobody even knew he could play the piano.
When he sat down to play, he was surrounded by about 15 beautiful ladies as he charmed them with his magic hands on the keyboard. Normally when
someone is asked at a party, “Do you play?”, and you answer, “A little bit”, they are expecting to hear chop sticks or something pretty basic. All of a sudden,
it sounds like they are listening to the combination of Liberace mixed in with Earl Garner and Ramsey Lewis, as their mouths drop open right away, before
breaking into a big approving smile. Most people admire anyone who can play the keyboards with flare and style, especially in a party setting.
Becoming a great pianist is just another attribute to add to Vincent Zaldivar’s diversified talents! He has conquered so many worlds! Although today Vincent
has a wonderful girlfriend for the past year he said, “In my younger dating days I’ll tell you one of my big secrets. The first time I would talk to a girl in person
or on the phone I would casually ask her what her favorite song was. By the time we had our first date, she very often would forget I even asked her that
question, as our date would amazingly take us to a restaurant that happened to have a piano. With a small toke at the right moment, I would casually
approach the piano and play her favorite song, quite often while singing the lyrics with a personalized touch. This always worked to insure I got the second
date!” There is no doubt the second date would be automatic with Vince’s approach. That is for sure! All we have to do is become a great piano players
overnight……that’s all! I was out in the field with Vincent a few days ago, listening to his presentation about NLOP. During this period the topic of the piano
came up, and he sat at the piano and played Misty and Tenderly for us, as well as sang the lyrics. He even played some outstanding boogie woogie jazz with
a special song he sang about NLOP. Everyone in the room loved it! Vincent has learned to speak that universal language through his musical talents.
Now let’s get back to Vincent’s story from last week: As an entrepreneur, we left off with his successful story in the cattle business, to his next project of
selling the Bellagio all of their art work for their 3500 rooms! Here are Vincent’s words about this and much more from our interview:
Sexton’s Corner: I have to tell you Vincent…… going from the cattle business to selling the Bellagio all of their classic art-work in their 3500 rooms is quite
a stretch and change of pace! Please tell us…. How in the world were you able to leap from your cattle ranch in New Mexico into a world of fine art at the
Bellagio in Las Vegas, which many people believe is the finest hotel on earth?
Vincent Zaldivar: You have to have an entrepreneurial mind to see opportunity and see things that others can’t see.
I was working with somebody with a herniated disk who was one of my clients at Body and Soul. This gentleman owned an art company out of San Francisco,
and he didn’t have any representation in Las Vegas. So……I just suggested to him one day: Why don’t you make me the Las Vegas representative, and I’ll
go see if I can land some new hotels?
I have a tremendous way of speaking with people, because I have a lot of ambition and enthusiasm when I go into something. I really do go all-in. I can be
convincing……my name is Vince. He said OK and when we signed our deal,I began to approach the MGM Grand Mirage’s design group. They gave me an
appointment. As soon as they gave me an appointment, I flew in the art team to meet with them to learn what they were looking for. They listened and came
in with a great presentation to provide the art work the property was looking for. The design team representing the Bellagio loved it and signed a big deal for
our artwork in all 3500 rooms! I personally knew nothing about art work. I was just a bridge over the water you have to cross.
Sexton’s Corner: You were the point guard lead or connection for the art company out of San
Francisco or there would have been no big deal with the MGM Grand Mirage’s design team. Instead,
that bridge over the water would have been a bridge to nowhere! This story is amazing and
underscores what positive thinking and enthusiasm can do in life!
The guy who owned the art store must have been astounded! Here he is getting a massage
somewhere and a young enthusiastic kid offers his services to make contact with some new hotels on
his behalf and his art business here in Las Vegas. The young kid lines up a key appointment with the
MGM Grand Mirage design team, and arranges for the team of artists to come in to Las Vegas to
make a presentation and the art team hits a grand slam home run with a presentation the hotel
loved. The owner of the art business must send you a Christmas card once in a while?
Vincent Zaldivar: He does send me a Christmas card. (Vincent begins to laugh reflecting about this
entrepreneurial moment in his career.) In fact, he sent me a nice piece of artwork.
Sexton’s Corner: It sounds like his little gift was well earned. What was his name by the way?
Vincent Zaldivar: His name was Terry Eaton and the art business he owned was called Eaton Fine
Art out of San Francisco. When you represent any product you have to be dynamic and learn to deal
with all sorts of personalities. Some people respond to different things, and you have to be able to
read people, very similar to a good poker player. You have to go with your gut……using a lot of
Sexton’s Corner: We are going to talk about your new team you are surrounded by today with Zen
Gaming, New Poker, and the National League of Poker, but between these three companies of which
you are President and majority stock holder…….it was New Poker that came along first for you.
When you talk about using a lot of intuition as an entrepreneur in business, tell us the story of how
New Poker literally got started in the beginning.
Vincent Zaldivar: It was about 19 months ago that a doctor called me about one of his patients. His name was Tony Patelidas. The doctor who was an
investor in one of my many previous deals and knew I was into poker somewhat, because I used to back up well known poker players in big tournaments. I
was sort of like a banker for the players. I partnered with them, they would go play, then split the winning profits. The doctor asked me to listen to Tony who
kept bugging him about investing in his two new poker games he created. The doctor knew I was into poker and wanted to get the guy out of his hair. I said
OK, and agreed to meet his patient and listen to him. I’ll listen to anybody, because you never know when or where your next opportunity will come from.
This guy drives up in this rickety old van. He looks like this mountain man who smells of cigarettes. I’m going through this little package of his games, and I
actually felt this divine inspiration. I swear to you……..I hadn’t had this feeling ever before that happened to me that day! I’ve had good feelings about many
deals in the past, but nothing like this. The feeling I got listening to him was this burning sensation that I had to do something like right now! As he was
talking, I could hear his voice telling me I needed to get involved in this right away. He sounded almost desperate to get some sort of solid commitment. I
liked what I was looking at and said OK………..we were at a bagel shop and I said follow me. I took him to the bank that same day and I told him I’m going to
do this deal for you and make it real for you. I got $5,000 or $10,000 cash for him, and told him I need 30 to 60 days to clear my other obligations, so I can
focus on these new games you’ve developed. I also had a BMW for sale that I wasn’t driving, and handed over the keys and title to him, and told him he
wouldn’t have to drive that old van anymore. So on the first date Tony and I met……he got a stack of cash and a new car! I think he knew I was his guy right
away! He knew I was serious and would take these two new games on. He got some stock in the new company we formed called New Poker, and with all the
rights assigned to the corporation, the development and growth of No River Hold’em and Royal Hold’em would be up to me. Since this time both games have
been approved by Nevada Gaming and No River Hold’em has been awarded a 20 year patent, with Royal Hold’em pending.
Sexton’s Corner: What a great story about how you acquired the rights to these two new games. In Part 3 I want to explain how these two games work and
where they are played at today. Well, I guess by giving away $10,000 and a new car you have a good way to get the first date? You won’t miss too many
dates with that presentation. I know how good you are at getting a second date sealed, so it sounds like you didn’t have to play the piano to secure a second
date with Tony? (This brings a big laugh from Vincent, who appreciated the humor.) Could you tell us about some of your people that play a major role in
Zen Gaming today, the umbrella holding company over New Poker and within the last 60 days the National League of Poker?
Vincent Zaldivar: Yes, I’m only too happy to do that: Mark Brown is really my confidant and CEO of Zen
Gaming. He is a very strategic person involved in this journey we are on. He has a lot of experience with gaming
dealing with the regulatory, who was a lobbyist and a high level executive for Station Casinos. I rely on Mark’s
experience and wisdom to guide us. I’m out on the front lines a lot of times bringing in new deals and he helps me
stay on track on what deals we should be going after, which makes him my reliable strategist and solid mentor that
way. He is also the one who helped me in the very beginning before this project. He helped me with advice and
letters in getting my father out of prison. He has been with me a long time. I’ve known him since I started my
career. He is just a great guy and I’m lucky he is by my side today. Joey Franco is another person I’ve had a long
term relationship with over the last ten years. He actually works directly under Bobby Baldwin at the MGM Mirage.
Joey created the logos for Treasure Island and he is also working for City Center with all of their amazing $9 Billion
plus construction project. He is a very talented individual who created our logos for the NLOP and New Poker. He
is our creative director in a way. We rely on him to make our presentation and rack cards and he does a quality job
for us. James Yepes is another one I’ve known for a long time. He used to work for me as a therapist part time
and a full time poker player.
|Mark Brown / CEO Of Zen Gaming
He was the one who gave me a little guidance in the poker world and advised me that these games have merit we originally got into with New Poker. He was
especially excited when we bought the National League of Poker. He is going to be out there on the streets educating the masses on our new games and
the NLOP. Joey Ritorto was one of the original guys to invest in our company. He believed in it when it was just an idea. He knows the amount of passion
and energy I have put into every project I have gotten into, and he just wanted to be a part of it. He didn’t understand poker, but he did understand his role.
He manages private Lear jets for a lot of the high net worth individuals in town, like Tony Marnell. He ran his flight department for ten years. He can build a
$50,000,000 plane from scratch, and is known to be one of the most talented individuals in his field. We’ve been friends for ten years, and he has made
some great introductions for me. He introduced us to the Marnell group and we are actually in their casinos now…..the Colorado Bell and The Edge Water
in Laughlin when it opens and the new M way past the South Point. Briana Mackey is our project manager. She makes sure we are on our game and do
our follow-ups, and she sends out all the presentations and takes notes at a lot of our
meetings. She is a really good resourceful talent to have with us on the team and sees where we are going. The team back in Boston are the faces behind
the curtain that are really keeping the backbone of the operation going: Michael Clebnik, Roy Evans, and Kevin Vonasek. We owe a lot of credit to
them for the blood, sweat, and tears in building the back end of this software. We are going to plug it in. It is like we have been handed this beautiful
Ferrari. We gave it a new paint job, and put some gas in it. Now we are going to hit the gas and fly by!
Stay tuned for Part 3 of our story as we start off with the legend himself of gaming inventors, Ernie Moody, who today has thousands of video poker
machines in casinos that pays him very well! He’s the guy every game inventor and entrepreneur dreams of becoming, and he is now an investor with Zen
Gaming! We will also highlight New Poker’s two new games now out, and go into all the latest happenings with the National League of Poker.
The Cab Is Parked,
|On November 9, 2008 there will be two new members admitted to Poker's Hall of Fame. Who are they?
|Sexton's Corner, Vol 69, Part 2