Battery partner jolts poker tourney

Suffice it to say that you probably should avoid getting into a card game against Mike Scanlin. The Battery Ventures partner has been playing blackjack for 20 years and he has picked up poker, recreationally, in the last few years. He modestly says that he just likes to play socially with his VC pals.

But don’t fall for that bluff. Rumors of his card-playing talent spread from Silicon Valley to the Beaver Creek Ski Resort in Colorado, home of the Venture Capital in the Rockies conference in February, where Scanlin took home the prize as poker champion. Scanlin began the tourney, which featured 80 players in a Texas Hold’em showdown, as a marked man. He was one of 10 labeled as a good player and was given a yellow T-shirt with a target emblazoned on the front. If anyone knocked one of these yellow “ducks” out of the tourney, then that player won a bottle of wine.

Local favorite Paul Koenig, an attorney from Colorado, had already taken out a couple of yellow T-shirts when he faced off against Scanlin in the winner-take-all final round that went past midnight. Scanlin says that the two pushed chips back and forth for over 45 minutes as the restless crowd placed side bets. A pair of 9s won the day and Scanlin took home a bottle of wine along with a trophy, two free nights at the Ritz in Vail (where the conference was held) and a set of poker chips.

“Now, if someone could please just explain the rules to me then maybe we could play poker for money,” Scanlin says.

No constricting Labrador

The folks at Labrador Ventures didn’t invent Mardi Gras, but they know how to throw a party. The early stage VC investor, with co-sponsors Silicon Valley Bank and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, hosted its fifth annual Mardi Gras celebration in February at its office in Palo Alto, Calif.

More than 125 VCs—and one snake—were in attendance. The snake was accompanied by Beth Hada, also known as “The Boa Lady,” a snake handler from Northern California. Why bring in a snake handler? “You never know what’ll happen at Mardi Gras and what people you may meet,” explains Labrador spokeswoman Kelly Friendly.

Rocket man

When Steve Jurvetson walked into his Sand Hill Road office last month, he had to wade through a sea of black and silver balloons. His cohorts, led by funnyman Tim Draper, decorated his workspace in black in honor of his 40th birthday.

But 40 is apparently the new 12, since Draper gave Jurvetson a RoboSapien, a 2-foot-tall robotic toy that can execute up to 67 commands from an infrared controller. Those commands, which any pre-adolescent can attest to, include passing gas and moving backwards. (The robot costs 100 bucks, if you’re interested.)

The RoboSapien can be easily hacked and re-programmed, but we doubt that Jurvetson will want to modify his new toy into a rocket. For that hobby activity, he went into the desert the week of his birthday and launched his homemade V2 rocket. You can find photos of the launch on Flickr.

An insider’s perspective on KP

VC icon Tom Perkins, says that his latest book, “Valley Boy,” which is slated to come out in October, is “sort of” an autobiography and will include at least one chapter on the Hewlett-Packard scandal. Perkins resigned from HP’s board last year over the actions taken by then Chairwoman Patricia Dunn to ferret out the source of media leaks using methods Perkins considered unethical and illegal.

In addition to writing about HP, Perkins says that his new novel will also provide the inner workings of how decisions are made at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. No need to worry about hurt feelings here: The partners at the firm have already signed off on the novel.