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Poker News: February 18, 2008

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HEADLINE: The Poker Battle of the Billionaires

Each year, Forbes magazine lists the 400 richest people in the U.S. It's called the Forbes 400. It takes assets of well over $1 billion to qualify. (Yes, that's 1,000 million U.S. dollars!) The average net worth of those on the list was $3.8 billion. There are 82 American billionaires who don't quite measure up. To make the list, you have a better chance if you live in California. Eighty-eight are from the Golden State. Second is New York State, with 73 of the top 400.

Bill Gates is the richest of the rich, with assets valued at $59 billion-not to mention the money in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help charities. Gates enjoys playing poker, albeit not for the kind of stakes we see in the big tournaments. He plays strictly for recreation. But that's not what this story is about.

What happens when some of the Forbes 400 compete in a high stakes hold'em game? As reported in the special edition of Forbes magazine (October 8, 2007), five of them recently got together in New York City for a friendly game of no-limit hold'em with the proceeds to go to charity. There was Phillip Ruffin who recently sold the New Frontier Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas to make the list, John Catsimatidis who owns an oil refinery and New York real estate, Ron Burkle the supermarket tycoon, pharmaceutical distributor Stewart Rahr, and Timothy Blixseth who's into timberland and resorts. Each would buy in for $25,000. The winner would have the privilege of donating $125,000 to a charity of his choice.

The first hand was won by Catsimatidis, raking in $5000. A good start. But Vegas casino mogul Phil Ruffin took the next two hands, putting him in the lead-never to be stopped. Supermarket tycoon Burkle played it tight, folding each of these hands. (He must have read my hold'em algorithm booklet.) The fourth hand was a big one. After a few rounds of heavy betting, Ruffin and Rahr were heads up. Ruffin aggressively declared "all in" and Rahr folded. It was a $30,000 pot for Ruffin. Perhaps the most exciting hand was the twentieth played. Blixseth-who had never played poker before, but learned quickly-had aces-and-jacks.

Believing he had the best hand, he declared all-in on the river. Catsimatidis folded, contributing $6800 to the pot. But casino magnate Ruffin called his bet and his straight took the pot. Blixseth was the first to bust out. Good sport that he was, he smiled as he escorted his beautiful date out of the room to go to dinner. Next to go was Stewart Rahr, pleased that he wasn't the first to go to the rails. He had lasted in the game for over an hour, and was satisfied with his accomplishment.

On the thirty-sixth hand, Catsimatidis lost his last $6,500 to Ruffin. Somewhat dejected, the oilman commented, "I went down in flames." Still in the game, Burkle responded: "You went down in style."

Meanwhile Burkle's date had arrived on the scene. Gorgeous movie star Kate Hudson took Burkle's place at the table. Let's see what beauty can do against the casino magnate. For six hands, she and Ruffin "teased each other." On the next hand, Ruffin put her all-in and took the pot. Moral of the story: "Never play poker against a casino mogul. The house always wins." Sure ...

Epilogue: Ruffin donated the $125,000 to the American Diabetes Association. Good cause.

What do you think is the moral of this story? You tell me. . . A prize for the best answer. (I'm the sole judge.)

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Article downloaded from the World Wide Web on February 17, 2007

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