Saturday, November 27, 2004

Big D Poker

Last night in the airport I picked up D Magazine to read on the plane, a testiment to how nicely the kids were traveling. I read several stories and was amazed when I checked Real Clear Politics, as I do every day, and found this link to an article in the magazine. It was a fascinating story about Andy Beal, a banker billionaire, who likes to play cards with poker champions with very high stakes.
Even though many of the top poker players are multimillionaires, none of them could afford to take on Beal without risking his entire bankroll. So they formed the Corporation—pooling their money (and money from investors) to take on a man they had to see as the biggest gravy train ever to hit The Strip. In addition to Doyle Brunson, the team included 16 of the best players in the world. Johnny Chan, Chip Reese, Jennifer Harman, Howard Lederer, Chau Giang, Gus Hansen, and Phil Ivey are some of the names a casual fan of the World Poker Tour might recognize.

During the next few years, you could always tell when Beal was in town, because at the Bellagio’s highest-stakes table, a crowd of pros would gather around just two players duking it out with towering stacks of chips, each chip worth $10,000. For the most part, the Corporation booked wins of a few million each session. Beal did reportedly deliver a $5 million blow to two-time World Champion Chan, but then there was also that time Beal was supposedly up $4.5 million, only to see it turn into a $1 million loss.

Though who has won or lost how many millions is in dispute, Beal admits that he has been an overall loser since he began playing in the Big Game. But he’s getting better, and last May, he played in the biggest game ever. Blinds were $100,000/$200,000, and for four days, for up to 14 hours a day, Beal sat quietly in a white suit and bulky black headphones and grinded it out against the pros, who took him on in shifts. He finally got up and walked away from the table, saying he had to go back to Dallas for his twin daughters’ camping trip—finishing up a $10 million winner.

It is a fascinating read with great details of how this man, a college drop-out/math nut, became a billionaire. Go check it out.