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All Hands on Deck

A tournament on the high seas attracts the new breed of poker players young, hungry and bred on online play
Michael Kaplan
From the Print Edition:
Michael Jordan, July/August 2005

(continued from page 2)

Maybe yes. Maybe no. What's indisputable is that Gracz did indeed punch, jab and feign his way to the $1.5 million first prize—bulling through the first hour and a half, from $600,000 to $1.8 million in tournament chips. As he raked in his final pot, Gracz practically leaped off the stage and into the arms of two friends. They were happy for him, but probably even happier for themselves. "They had half of me," Gracz later explains. "They're my friends, and I'm happy to help them. I find no joy in doing something like this alone."

The next day, as the ms Oosterdam chugs toward San Diego, Paul Darden still seems a little sore over his failure to capture the first-place prize, but he makes it clear that he will leave the ship a wiser man. "I haven't played online as of yet," admits the old-school gambler, who learned the rudiments of poker in the back room of his father's Connecticut pool hall. "But when I get off this boat, I am buying a laptop. It seems like there are a lot of good opportunities online. I want to start taking advantage of them."

Michael Kaplan is co-author of Aces and Kings


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