(Originally published in the May 25, 2007, edition of the Chicago Tribune)
5 things you probably didn't know about Carl Kasell
By Peter Sagal
May 25, 2007
1. World Series of Poker, 1982, final table. Legendary player Doyle Brunson bets $300,000, holding a pair of aces with an A-Q-Q flop. Carl looks across the table, says, "Doyle, I've got a pair of queens under my left hand, and I'm about to go all in. And when you think about calling my bet, you need to ask yourself: would this voice lie to you?" Brunson folds, and Carl reveals he's holding the 5 of spades and a receipt from a dry cleaner ... a pair known to this day as the Newsman's Hand.
2. A noted epicure, Carl is one of the foremost artisanal brewers of pulque, an ancient Mesoamerican beverage brewed from the maguey plant. Using heritage magueys grown on his ranch near Apatzingan, Mexico, Carl produces limited vintages of his acclaimed "Kasell Opus One," bottled in handmade clay bottles thrown by his wife, Mary Ann.
3. Taking advantage of his 3 to 11 a.m. workshift, during the 1980s Carl spent his days as a singing troubadour on the Washington Mall, singing Cream and Allman Brothers covers while accompanying himself on a Martin "Backpacker" guitar plugged into a Pignose portable amp.
4. Carl doesn't like to talk about his time in the Navy Seals. Every now and then, at a meal, he'll pick up the butter knife and run his thumb, ruminatively, over the edge and get a faraway look in his eye.
5. Carl Kasell is a fine Southern gentleman, a good friend, and a man who has allowed me to say outrageous things about him for years. As much fun as you're having listening to him, he's having more fun performing for you. Much as Ben Franklin said of beer, Carl Kasell is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. Or, at least, God wants Carl Kasell to be happy, which suits me just fine.