Wild Card Poker auditioners try anything

Calvin Ayre
Calvin Ayre rolls in his hummer and chats with a lady on his cell phone.

Tim Molyneux might be annoying at the poker table but, whether his opponents like him or not, he's a candidate for good TV.

The 37-year-old trained opera singer with a southern twang is one of more than 400 characters who showed up to audition live for Bodog.com's Calvin Ayre Wild Card Poker II at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas July 5-8.

Seeing reality television potential in Molyneux, someone turned the Nashville, Tenn., native's name into casting directors for the program and on Sunday afternoon he showed up at the casino and kept them in stitches.

His humor is part of a dual persona at the poker table, Molyneux said, and one that he will bring to the show should he make the final cut at the end of the month.

"When it comes to poker, I'm either the instigator or the white knight," he said following his brief audition.

Molyneux likes to mix it up, he said, switching between Mr. Friendly and the big bad wolf on the felt. When someone bullies others at the table, he pushes back in an effort to put the player on tilt. To tourists, he is amiable and chatty, offering them tickets to shows he produces in Las Vegas as part of his 9-to-5 job.

And always Molyneux sings. He belts out ditties such as "Another One Bites the Dust" as a competitor heads to the rail. He does impersonations and makes crazy noises. In other words, his annoyance potential is high, thus making him a perfect candidate for reality television.

"We're looking for great personalities and we found them here," said casting director Tara Johnson at the final day of auditions Sunday.

By month's end, Johnson and her counterpart Christine Scowley will have sifted through the applications and audition tapes of hundreds of candidates to narrow the field to just 12 people who will live and play poker together in an undisclosed tropical location this summer.

The winner will walk away from the experience with the largest prize offered in reality television history: a $2 million package that includes $1 million in cash and $1 million earmarked for tournament buy-ins and travel expenses good for a year on the poker circuit.

Although who will win that prize has yet to be determined, Johnson said it could be anyone from a poker-playing granny to a young Internet whiz kid whose 21st birthday candle smoke is still hanging in the air.

Bodog might be known for appealing to the young bachelor hoping to emulate the lifestyle of the Internet gambling company's playboy founder Calvin Ayre, but the show is casting all different types, Johnson said.

"We literally want everyone because we want diverse personalities," she said.

Among the diverse back stories at the auditions are a grandmother who won a World Series of Poker ladies' event in the 1970s, a father who wants to win the show to help his seriously ill son and a victim of Hurricane Katrina.

People are also showing up from all over the globe and doing everything to catch the eye of the casting directors.

"One guy came in with a coffee ground mustache," Scowley said of the stranger things she'd seen over the past several days. "He really does it at the table. He puts Chapstick on his upper lip and dabs on coffee grounds."

The duo has also seen a variety of magic tricks and impersonations, including one of a velociraptor.

Bronson Anderson employed none of these gimmicks for his audition, instead choosing to emphasize his knowledge of the program's other requirement: poker.

After his five minutes with the casting directors Anderson, a 26-year-old with the gleaming teeth and polo shirts mirrored in Abercrombie & Fitch ads, said he just concentrated on being himself and letting them know he has some game.

"I tried to put a few interesting things in there," he said. "I said I was a baggage bitch. That piqued a little interest."

The casino bellman has been living in Las Vegas for about six months in an effort to make the transition from poker enthusiast to full-time pro. Appearing on Calvin Ayre Wild Card Poker II is one way of making that happen, he said. Oh, and the million dollars doesn't hurt, either.

"Who wants to work?" he said.

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