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ROUNDERS

Frank had watched Matt Damon and Ben Affleck win Academy Awards for co writing good Will Hunting, in 1997. They had been hooting, hollering, and acting all pumped up. Frank loved the fact that they had been acting their age when they had been presented the awards on stage. They had been in their mid-twenties, and had been a breath of fresh air.

That is what Frank remembered when he heard that Matt was coming to the 1997 WSOP. The next thing that he knew, Frank had heard that he’d been invited to meet Matt and Edward Norton at the top of the Horseshoe for a late Sunday morning brunch. Frank had brought his wife and two sons with him to that meeting / greeting, and later on that evening, Frank had given Matt and Edward some private lessons.

Both these guys were brilliant! Matt had gone to Harvard for a time and Edward had graduated from Yale. They both could converse philosophically and engagingly. Whether the subject had wandered towards politics, Buddhism, or the stock market, they had both been quick as a whip.

Frank advised both of them to play tight, but not to hold back when they had pocket Kings before the flop, or when they had flopped a set. The next day, Frank had been the first of the three of them to be eliminated! It had been a rare first day exit for Frank in the Big One, but he had stayed on in Vegas to root for Matt and Edward.

Some time later, Edward had been eliminated. Frank had asked him how he got out and Edward said that the flop came ten, nine and six, and that he had gone out with nines in the hole! His opponent had a pair of tens in the hole. Wow! There hadn’t been too much anyone could have done to avoid losing all of his or her chips with that hand and that poker raising flop.

Edward and Frank had wandered over to find Matt to see how he had been doing. It hadn’t been hard to find him; the Entertainment Tonight cameras had been focused on him at all times! As Frank had watched, Matt had raised it up on the button, and Doyle Brunson had reraised Matt all of his chips from the small blind, and Matt had called Doyle quickly. Matt had had a pair of pocket cowboys (Kings) down under and a total of $6,000.

However, it turned out that Doyle had the pocket rockets (pocket Aces)! When Matt had received no help, he gave a great interview, and had concluded by saying that he had lost with a great hand to a great player. He had no complaints. He wished the boys well. Later, Matt, Edward and Frank had sat around talking for a while on the rail. While the three of them had been chatting, Harvey Weinstein (the head of Miramax) had decided to run an impromptu charity event Frank was certain it had been to keep the press around.

They used to play a one-table freeze-out for $10,000 with the poker winner to choose his favorite charity. As depressed as Frank had been (it was always the worst poker / business day of the year for him when he got eliminated from the Big One), it had helped to have two movie stars attempting to pump him up for the charity event! With Matt and Edward cheering him on, he had played in the charity poker event, even though he had wanted to crawl into a hole for a day. 

Jim Albrecht, six lucky volunteers, and the three of them made ten players in all. Sadly, Matt and Edward had outlasted him again! This time Frank had watched closely as they had both played a very good no-limit Hold’em poker game. Frank had been impressed; both of them had put on a fine show, especially considering that they had both been basically beginners.

Later on, after the charity poker game had ended, they had headed up to the top of the Horseshoe for a late dinner and drinks. Of course, they had kept the place open for Matt and Edward until 1:30 a.m.! It had helped to be a celebrity. Later, Matt, Casey Affleck (Ben’s brother) and Frank had headed out the Hard Rock Café, and Matt and Frank had drank, smoked cigars and had played blackjack all night long. They had great fun.

Mat and Frank discussed Buddhism, and the concepts of Karma and ‘real happiness’ (although neither of them was a Buddhist), that night.What Frank most remembered about that night was something Matt had told him: He said that just because someone was rich, and seemed to be happy, didn’t mean they had real happiness. One didn’t even know until one was in his or her shoes.

Frank recommends hanging out and drinking with a genial movie star all night long if one gets eliminated from the Big One on day!

BAD BEAT IN CELEBRITY POKER

Phil Gordon, who was the host of Celebrity Poker Showdown, as well as a great poker player and a self-made Internet millionaire, had written the following hand. The first season of Bravo’s Celebrity Poker Showdown had been a great success. Though most of the players had almost no experience, they had all been in good spirits and tried earnestly to win, especially in the championship show.

In the finals, each player had started with $10,000 in chips. The winner at that table would be allowed to donate $100,000 to his or her favorite charity; second place could donate $20,000, and third place, $15,000. The finale was going to be aired on Bravo, or even NBC. The stakes, and the pressure had been high.

Paul Rudd (famous for his role in friends) had looked down under the gun and had found a pair of sixes at the $200-$400 level. He had been left with a little more than $5,000 when he raised to $1,000. The talented and beautiful Nicole Sullivan (from the King of Queensand Mad TV), saw an unsuited Jack and seven. She had had roughly 20,000 and she was on the button. For some reason, she had called.

The flop had come down a glorious Ace, ten and six rainbow, it had been a perfect flop for Paul. Considering that Paul was quite a good player, Frank had really thought he would have tried to check-raise. But instead, he had moved all-in, which surprised Frank. That had not been the world’s greatest play really, as Nicole would have needed a monster hand to justify calling $5,000 to win $2,000.

Anyway, she began thinking. Frank wondered what the hell had been going on in her mind, while he was seated in the announcer’s booth. Then she loudly announced that she thought Paul had been bluffing! Nicole made a great read. Paul had a pair of sixes and he had been bluffing. She decided that he had indeed been bluffing after about two agonizing minutes, and then she called.

Everyone had been totally shocked when the players had turned their hands. Of course, Paul had been a lock. Nicole’s only outs had been runner King and Queen, or runner-runner nine and eight. The odds were roughly 35-to-1. Paul had already stood up and he had had his arms up in triumph. Nicole had looked like someone had hit her in the stomach. She had muttered to the camera that she’d been very stupid.

The dealer had turned a Queen when everyone stopped laughing. A quiet hush had fallen over the audience, and the tournament director, Robert Thompson informed the crowd that all Nicole needed now was a King! Now Nicole’s chances of winning were eight percent.

The dealer had flipped over the miracle card (a King) with flourish and high drama! Nicole took a 35-to-1 shot all the way to the Bank by calling Paul’s bluff. Paul had been brutally eliminated, while Nicole had proceeded to win the poker tournament and had claimed the $100,000 prize for her charity, the Alley Cat Allies (a group dedicated to spaying and neutering stray cats).

HUSTLER

Ted Forrest, who was widely considered one of the best all-around poker players in the world since the past six years, had written the following hand. In the past seven years, Frank had both the pleasure and the misery of playing Seven-Card Stud with Larry Flynt, who was the owner of the Hustler Casino and publisher of Hustler Magazine. There had been no better word to describe Larry in business, in poker, and in life, other than ‘Hustler’.

Larry overcame tremendous odds for most of his life, and a lot of that had to do with his attitude and his ‘hustle’. Larry had been able to overcome incredible odds in the following hand already he had been drawing almost dead. Although it had been a pleasure to watch Larry’s hustle, Frank's hand had been pretty certain he’d been drawing dead.

Frank considered Larry a good friend. But with his friends Larry had a ‘ask no quarter, give no quarter’ attitude. He had been a hard man to get the best of in business and in poker. Larry Flynt and his friend, Gabe Kaplan, of Welcome back Kotter fame had been the two main players in this amazing hand. (Frank’s note: Gabe had been one of the best celebrity poker players in the world over the last fifteen years.)

The game had been $1,500-$3,000 limit Stud, with a $300 ante and a $500 bring-in bet with the low card by suit on board. The game began on a wild note with only Gabe and Larry calling the $500 bring-in bet. Larry showed the eight of clubs and called, while Gabe had the seven of spades and he limped in. Gabe caught the ten of spades to go with his seven of spades on the fourth street and had bet out $1,500.

Larry showed the eight of clubs and four of diamonds, and he had called the $1,500 Larry’s hand had been (six and seven) eight and four at this point Larry had a gutshot straight draw and Gabe had a four flush with (Jack of spades and two of spades) seven of spades and ten of spades.Larry had paired his door card (eights) on the fifth street, and he had bet $3,00 into Gabe’s ten of spades, seven of spades and three of spades board.

Gabe had his made flush and he immediately raised the bet to $6,000. Since Gabe was a somewhat conservative poker player, most of the players at the table had known that it was doubtful that he had been raising Larry’s open pair with only a four flush. However, Larry just shook his head and he had proceeded to call the $3,000 raise with one pair and a gutshot straight draw.

Larry had caught a second open pair (eights and fours), with a hand (six and seven) and a pair of fours and eight and proceeded to bet on the sixth street. This time it had been Gabe’s turn to shake his head and call the $3,000 bet. Perhaps this was the time when Larry had become convinced that Gabe indeed had a flush. Larry had not looked at his last card.

He shot Gabe a look, then he had shrugged and he had smiled shyly as if he were apologizing because he had to bet his hand and then he had thrown his $3,00 bet into the pot in an almost apologetic way. Gabe had laid down his hand after thinking about it for a few seconds. Larry felt showing the bluff would have been good for the game. Therefore he did.

Congratulations Larry. It would take big brass balls to bet into what one must know is a flush. Most people would naturally assume that once Gabe had called two open pair with his flush on the sixth street that he would call again on the river. The manner in which Larry had shrugged, and looked apologetically at Gabe as he was betting, it had convinced most of the people at the table including Gabe, that Larry had had a full house. Frank came away from that game with a lot of respect for Larry Flynt’s ‘hustle’



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