Putting on a poker face

Supervisor is working behind the scenes on what he calls a ‘global solution’ to annexation clashes between Newport and Costa Mesa.

October 21, 2008|By Brianna BaileyDaily Pilot

Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairman John Moorlach got hooked on the World Series of Poker on his summer vacation this year when he and his family decided to stop for lunch at the Rio casino in Las Vegas and got to watch some of the games.

Now he’s a loyal ?devotee, watching famed card players like Phil Hellmuth on ESPN.

“There’s a lot of ?principles that flow through into life,” Moorlach said. “You have to make decisions based on the information you have.”

Under Moorlach’s supervision, the Board of Supervisors managed to juggle the county’s budget this year with 10% cuts from the state.


He also was the third — and only male vote on the board — to appoint Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens in June.

In the game that is politics, Moorlach knows when to hold and when to fold. Residents of the unincorporated South of Mesa Drive neighborhood withdrew an application in April that would have allowed the neighborhood and nearby Santa Ana Country Club to be annexed by Newport Beach after Moorlach blocked their annexation bid. Moorlach believes Costa Mesa has first dibs on annexing the land.

The supervisor said he is still working behind the scenes on what he calls a “global solution” to annexation clashes between Newport Beach and Costa Mesa, but like a true World Series of Poker star, Moorlach isn’t ready to reveal his hand just yet.

The plan would divide several pieces of contested unincorporated land between the two cities. 

“Sometimes you have to bluff,” Moorlach said of his love of poker. “There’s some drama there. I find myself screaming sometimes, ‘How did that card come out.’”

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