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Las Vegas Stories

A Secret Golf Course, The World Series of Poker and a Lesson 007 Should Learn
Michael Konik
From the Print Edition:
Bill Cosby, Autumn 94

(continued from page 2)

In poker tournaments, the final two or three (or sometimes more) contestants often split the remaining prize money, usually based on the percentage of chips they hold. Most players view these deals as insurance policies, a safe way to defray the game's short-term volatility. When the Limit Hold 'Em Championship was reduced to a one-on-one battle, Mad Dog, Seidel and their respective backers retreated to a private room to hammer out an agreement. They could not reach a mutually acceptable split--Mad Dog wanted more than Seidel was willing to give--so it was decided they would play to the finish. Moreover, one of Mad Dog's backers, believing his man had been insulted in the negotiations, challenged Seidel's backers to an additional side bet of close to $10,000. They accepted. The game--and battle--was on.

At one point Mad Dog had Seidel "all in"--all of Seidel's chips were in the pot. Mad Dog held three tens with an ace kicker. Seidel had only one "out," a nine to make a straight. Miraculously, it came, giving Seidel a huge pot and new life in the tournament. Mad Dog went berserk, deriding Seidel's lucky play, yelling to the crowd that his opponent was a chump, an utter chump. "Anyone who thinks this clown can win," Mad Dog proclaimed, "is stupider than I thought."

Seidel said nothing. He continued to raise most pots, pressuring Mad Dog into bad decisions, bluffing him out of a $100,000 hand. Mad Dog kept barking; but Seidel, the epitome of class, had bite. At approximately three in the morning, he got Mad Dog to put in his last chip on a loser. Despite the psychological abuse, the humiliating remarks, the derisive laughter--despite the pressure of playing for $210,000--Erik Seidel became this year's World Champion of Limit Hold 'Em.

His response upon beating a man who had mercilessly taunted him, trying vainly to crush his will? Seidel offered Mad Dog a silent, conciliatory handshake.

I have never attended a poker tournament where the applause was longer or louder.

One prominent, imaginative Hollywood screenwriter clearly has a more vivid sense of story than gambling sense. He claims that on the past 11 trips he has made to Las Vegas, he has won 10 times, averaging $6,000 in profits.

"How?" I ask.

"Blackjack," he responds.

"So you're a counter," I exclaim, eager to hear how he has managed to make 11 consecutive trips to Las Vegas casinos without being detected.

"No, I never went in for that counting stuff," he scoffs, regaling me with tales of complimentary rooms, meals and even airfare--the mark of a dearly prized customer. And on top of all the perquisites, he won thousands. Ten out of 11 times.


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