Cigar Makers

Shit Happens Luck – is Fickle

You would think that the cigar business is all about making good cigars? Nah, it’s more than that. It’s about luck and risk; now I’m a firm believer in making your own luck, and sometimes you catch a lucky break here or there. But there’s a lot of risk, which make the rewards and accolades so much sweeter. It’s a double edge sword; it can go from “shit happens” to “good luck” in a second. Sometimes you win, sometimes you take a few lumps, but hell, you never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from…

Sometimes you have to make your own luck…

Tommy Lasorda once said that “there are three types of ball players: Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen and those who wonder what happened.” Only one of those options was ever acceptable for me; and when the opportunity arose, I made it happen. I couldn’t sit around and rest on my laurels or reputation. I’m no Wally Pipp.


Who’s Wally Pipp? He played first base for the New York Yankees, and was the first Yankee to win a home run title. One day during the 1925 season, he came down with a headache and asked to sit out a game. The guy who replaced him? Lou Gehrig, who proceeded to play the next 2,130 games. The rest is history – and it made Wally Pipp yesterday’s news.

Now, my friends know me as a storyteller – so I have to share with you one of my favorite “shit happens” moments. I love to play poker, and a few years ago, had a ticket to play at the World Series of Poker. Well, the night before, I got a little trashed…and when I mean a “little trashed,” I mean “drunk.” I was staying at Caesars Palace…my alarm doesn’t go off – or maybe I don’t hear it – either way, I woke up at 11:50am. The tournament started at noon.

I jumped out of bed, threw on some clothes and got a cab to The Rio, where the tournament was being held. I arrived ten minutes late, half asleep and half hung over…but lucky for me, they still let me register and cash in. When I got to the table, I end up sitting next to Phil Ivey, one of the world’s greatest poker players. That fact didn’t sink in at the time, since I was just glad to have gotten in. And I couldn't make up what happened next…


We start to play. A little time passes, and I am in the middle of a hand with Phil – I raise. He re-raises. All of a sudden, the tournament director walks over to the table and asks to see my tournament ticket. I say to the man, “I am in the middle of a hand here…I will show you right after we play it.” So here we go…and on the turn, I have a full house; Phil bets. I raise. Phil folds. After I collect my winnings, I proudly show the tournament director my ticket, who calmly looks at it and tells me, “Sir, you are seated at the wrong table.” Uh-oh.

“Your ticket says Table 42 Seat 1, you are sitting at Table 43 Seat 1. Please take your winnings and move to your assigned table.” I instantly thought of those Southwest Airline commercials where they ask, “Do you want to get away?”

Phil Ivey…

His nickname is “the Tiger Woods of Poker,” having nine World Series of Poker winner bracelets in his possession, one World Poker Tour title and has appeared at nine World Poker Tour final tables. Let's put it this way: Phil is considered to be the best all-round player in the world today. If you get him to fold, someone or something is smiling down on you…

But, hey – shit happens, right? Like I said before, it can go to “good luck” in a second. And who knows what worse luck I was saved from.

That goes for poker, cigars, everything. You gotta keep working; be innovative, but don’t look to reinvent the wheel – look to make it roll better. At this point in my career, I feel a rebirth of sorts. I took a chance and good things are happening, and “I’m all in.” I’m looking to continue to carve out my niche in this market, keeping our customers happy and the industry fresh and growing.

I feel truly blessed, I have my son working with me and a loyal team that is bringing youthful energy to Espinosa Cigars. We are doing good things, we are “originals”, and things are definitely looking up. Good luck or bad, I am definitely going to make the best of it.

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Erik Espinosa

Erik Espinosa

Born in Havana, Cuba, and raised in Miami from the age of 3 months old, Erik Espinosa inherited his great passion for cigars from his father. He’s done just about everything there is to do in the business, including being involved with successful and highly rated cigar brands like 601, Murcielago, Cubao and 601 La Bomba. Erik has passed along this passion and love of cigars to his son, Erik D. Espinosa Jr. who is now involved in the day-to-day operations and helps his father run the business.

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