Girl on Girl at the 2008 WSOP: Gloria Balding
The below is WCP contributor Michele Lewis' latest interview in her "Girl on Girl" series at the WSOP featuring interviews with some of the coolest, hottest girls in poker. Check out Michele's blog at michelelewis.com.
As the 2008 World Series of Poker goes from serious to seriously serious this week, I somehow managed to get in a few minutes with Bluff's super busy producer and occasional on-air talent Gloria Balding. A regular fixture at the WSOP and tournaments around the world, Gloria got her start in the poker world after a chance visit to Las Vegas to see this year's The Last Woman StandingTM Tiffany Michelle during the 2006 WSOP. That trip landed her an administrative job with Bluff, which evolved into production.
Don’t fret if you’re unable to catch Balding on the floor at the Rio as you can find her on ESPN 360, Bluff and the World Series of Poker site. In our chat, Balding shares how WSOP commish and famed blogger Jeffrey Pollack busted her checking out Wicked Chops Poker's Girls on the Rail, and why she's qualified to be a cougar.
Hump to the jump to read more about Gloria Balding in this series of Girl on Girl at the 2008 WSOP
Michele Lewis: How did you get started in poker media?
Gloria Balding: Well, in 2006 I was roommates with this girl named Tiffany Michelle. Perhaps you’ve heard of her….She was an on air girl for Bluff handling their radio coverage. Well, I showed up about week into the series to visit her with no idea of what to expect. Turns out, Bluff was short staffed and needed some help with some admin work. No shit, I typed up a contact list and Nick Geber gave me a job right then and there. By the end I was producing for them. It worked out well, I had been working as an actress/model, but was getting really bored with the stuff I had been offered. I was actually looking to branch out into producing. After the 2006 World Series I was offered a full time gig with them and I’ve been with them ever since.
ML: I know the WSOP is long and it's work for you, but have you had fun this year?
GB: Ha-ha, fun is a relative term. This is my 3rd Series, so I expect a bit of a grind. I’m kind of battle hardened to the all the insanity, but to be honest it all still has the ability to amaze me. I love being in the Amazon during the 50K HORSE and when the Main Event is in full swing. Watching the people on the rail just over awed seeing their poker heroes at the table is a bit mesmerizing. Also the getting to know a lot of these players over the years, you really get involved with the triumphs and tribulations of even the seemingly mundane hands.
ML: Sao Paulo Restaurant is a favorite of WCP. What's your favorite place to eat at the Rio?
GB: Hands down, Rub BBQ. They have this BLT made with fried green tomatoes and a Cajun remoulade that’s to die for. Finish that off with the deep fried Oreos and a sweet tea and I’m one happy bunny. I’m a bit of a foodie, so I jump at any chance to get some of the amazing grub in Vegas.
ML: Tiffany Michelle and Amanda Leatherman selected you for hot girl of the day. Did you win a trophy for that award...? Like a gift certificate to Sao Paulo?
GB: First of all I have to credit the plaid school girl skirt for that win. I’ve had it for years, but never felt it was “work appropriate”, thank God, my standards have lowered. But to answer your question I won nothing, except the undying devotion of some players who will remain nameless, wink, wink.
ML: Eric Morris, publisher of Bluff Magazine, said some of the girls at Bluff sexually harass the guys at Bluff. He's not talking about you is he?
GB: He He, um no, I don’t think so. I think Eric would like us to, but even though this is poker, it is a job and everything does tend to stay above board.
ML: Hasn't the WSOP run well this year?
GB: Very well, I have to give Jeffrey Pollack and his team, particularly Angele Marshall credit for being really attentive to all the complaints that were made last year and adjusting them. Media across the board I feel is playing well with each other. There’s a lot more info sharing than in years past.
ML: What do you do the rest of the year in the poker industry?
GB: Well, I work year around for Bluff, we have a studio and production office based out of LA, and so I’m constantly busy. I have a couple a positions within Bluff. I’m Production Manager for the Media wing, Supervising Producer for the ESPN 360 broadcast, and occasional On Air girl. As a part of the production team I have my hands in many things. I helped put together the Poker VT shoot awhile back. Most of the table play in it was shot at our studios. Last year alone I was involved with projects for Ultimate Bet, Asia Pacific Poker Tour and I go to most of the Circuit Events. So, I’m kept very busy year around. I do find time to do my own thing though. I love to travel. I managed to make it to Peru back in March and to date I’ve been to every continent but Antarctica.
ML: Wow, that's a lot. I wish I had your job. Okay, since you're single... Tell me what kind of guy you’re looking to catch?
GB: First of all, who says I’m fishing (smiley face)? Admittedly, I am a huge flirt, but I am a pretty private person. I’m usually dating someone for a couple of months before it goes public. Tiffany is usually the first to know and it drives her crazy how quiet I am about stuff. Last year, I dated Justin Bonomo for awhile before anyone knew. It was actually kind of funny; people were telling me he was talking about me and all the high school gossip that goes on. Speaking of Justin, he is 6 years younger than me, so I guess you could say I’m a bit of a cougar. Which, I’m told I share with you, he he. I love nerdy guys. Don’t let the hair and makeup fool you, I am a total nerd. Michael Binger was once talking to me about the string theory and I almost lost my shit.
ML: You should come over for a family dinner. My husband's step father has a PhD in Physics. And speaking of my husband...he's a year younger which awarded me the cougar title. But, I didn't know you and Justin dated. He is a good catch, he's a really sweet guy. So, do you have a MySpace page?
GB: Yes, but it's set to super private, like I have to know your blood type and favorite Elvis song before I’ll add you. I used to use it a lot more, but now I just call people. I do have the honor though of being Pollack’s only MySpace friend.
ML: Really? I only have his social and secret parking space location. But I just signed up on MySpace this week (again) so maybe there’s hope for me. BTW, I’m O+ and my favorite Elvis song is “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” Elvis gave me away to my husband.
So, I've asked every girl/woman/lady... who do you think is the hottest male and female poker player?
GB: I have a soft spot for Travis Rice. He is such a gentleman. And that makes a guy so much more attractive. I still think Justin is a looker. Jon Friedberg is pretty attractive. I’m one of those girls that find personality a make or break. If they ain’t funny and smart don’t even think of applying. Females; Jen Harman has an edge that’s part James bond that’s so hot. I can’t say Tiff because she’s my best friend and that’s a 2+2 post waiting to happen. There’s already pics of us in a hot tub out there somewhere. And I still haven’t ruled out ever running for public office, so less said the better (smiley face).
ML: Do you read Wicked Chops Poker?
GB: Only every day. I love how it takes the piss out of everyone. It’s like South Park; no one can get offended that they make fun a someone because they are equal opportunity piss takers.
ML: WCP has been called a bunch of "nobody's" by Anna Benson but their traffic is through the roof. Do you think it's because they prey on poor innocent women standing around or do you think they actually have some creativity going on inside their brains?
GB: It’s like the 2Live crew thing in the 80’s, the attention only made the album sales sky rocket. And first of all, I know firsthand the “women” they “prey on “are not that innocent." I mean really? It’s poker. Creativity is like beauty, it’s in the eye of the beholder. WCP just happens to be beholden to booty.
ML: So, do you think any of the top poker pros read their site? I don't think they do because they never comment on the posts.
GB: Of course they are. But come on, they’re not gonna post under E_Lindgren. It’s gonna be more like “mstb18” or “mgkplyr69”.
ML: Jeffrey Pollack told me he reads their site all the time and he loves Wicked Chops Poker. Do you think they paid him to make that statement or perhaps he's looking into hiring them to run the WSOP site? Because the WCP Trademarked photos of Girls on the Rail would send a lot of traffic to the World Series of Poker site, don't you think?
GB: The rail girls bit is genius. It’s like where’s Waldo to find the player. I was actually reading WCP at the beginning of the Series and Pollack asked what I was reading. I think he was confused about the half naked chick on my screen. I waxed poetically about WCP and next thing I knew he was telling me he reads it all the time.
ML: Ha, more like “Where’s Mt. Vesuvius.” Sorry, I couldn't resist... I have to read a Pompeii book to my son every night. As for Pollack loving WCP… I'm still waiting for him to post something on his blog about that.
Thanks for your time Gloria, is there anything you would like to add for the readers of WCP?
GB: I guess just say hi to me. I’m usually running around with a million things to do, but I love meeting people. And, as I am a cougar in the making, if you’re 21-22 definitely say Hi, ha-ha.
Well, there you go fellas. Gloria isn't clear if she's looking to hook up with any fish but she's definitely up for a bite. Now, that's what I call a wink-wink statement.