Summit Showdown brings cards and charity
SILVERTHORNE – One stop at Jamie Gold’s website and you can tell his life has changed in the past year. As a Malibu, Calif.-based television producer, he greets visitors to his corner of the internet with a picture of himself seated on the edge of a white slipcovered couch. In the background of the picture on his homepage is a white orchid, a flower with enough elegance for TV land. But what’s that in his hand? Poker chips? The two ace cards splayed toward the viewer echo the satisfied look in his eyes. I’m a winner, the picture says, and producing television shows from my beachside Malibu home is the least of it. Gold found another niche outside of the production world in poker. As a first-time entrant to the World Series of Poker in 2006, he won it all in the Texas Hold’em main event – $12 million, the largest amount ever awarded in a poker tournament – with a queen and a nine. Now he’s authorized to put those lucky aces next to his mug on the web. Gold has proved that his day job is just that. Now Summit County has its chance to show its other persona. On Saturday, the High Country’s card-playing underbelly will be exposed at the Summit Showdown Poker Tournament at the Silverthorne Pavilion. With 20 tables of 11 players, one shark will emerge from this World Series of Poker qualifier event. But it’s not on to the big show yet – the lucky (or skilled, whichever your take) player will need to compete (and win) at a tournament in Denver before getting the veritable golden ticket. The Showdown’s $60 entry fee benefits the Summit County Rotary Club. For Jon Bird, the Rotary’s chairperson for the Showdown, the event is as much about Old West-stakes as helping the community.
“It’s a fun way to raise money for all the good stuff Rotary does,” Bird said. “Instead of begging for money, we have fun events.” Everything having to do with Saturday’s poker game will be run by a professional crew, according to Bird. Standard Texas Hold’em rules will apply, and Bird expects a sold-out event. But Bird thinks the real appeal lies in the potential bragging rights.”A lot of people like that they would be the best of the best at poker in Summit County,” Bird said. “There’s a lot of bravado in that.” But in true poker fashion, some players don’t wear their desire for the win on their sleeves. Local resident George Grill is understated about his ambition. At first, Grill said he was attending Saturday’s showdown for the fun of it. But later, he added that he wouldn’t object to getting a $25,000 free table and “participating in something as grand as that (the World Series of Poker Championship).”Grill has been playing for over 50 years. Here in Summit County, he said he plays “mostly with a group of fellows, and we move around from home to home to stay away from the sheriff.” Grill’s playing style matches his personality. He’s evaded the standard steely face with humor. “Instead of a poker face, mine will be a constant level of ebullience,” Grill said. “If I show humor and elation all the time maybe the other competitors won’t know I have back-to-back aces.”
For a man that says he “takes pleasures as they come because I’m a senior citizen,” Grill seems deceptively simple. It’s the nature of the game, though, and Showdown competitor and Breckenridge resident Charles Oes learned the nuances from the media. “I got tricks from players on TV and a couple of good books,” Oes, a player with three years of experience, said. “It showed up on TV, I started watching it and thought it looked fun and got involved.” Unlike Grill, Oes’ poker world extends beyond the county. He plays in Central City once in a while and takes a couple of trips to Vegas every year. In between, there’s online poker, where “a lot of younger people are playing as well as experienced people for pretty cheap,” he said. As far as the ticket to Denver goes, Oes knows the odds are tough to beat. But that’s where the poker culture of good company and social drinking comes in. Saturday’s event will feature both, and that’s enough satisfaction for Oes. “I would like to get the ticket to Denver,” he said. “But I just look to play live and have some fun and a few drinks. If I go far, great. If not, OK.” Silverthorne resident Ken Gansmann said he improves his chances of moving on by keeping track of the odds. First he admonishes that “only a sucker draws for an inside straight,” then adds that “you have to have card-counting senses.” Gansmann developed the art of tallying cards, etc., back in the ’50s and ’60s in Illinois. Now that he’s in Summit, he plays with a group of gentlemen once or twice a month.
“We play low-stakes poker but we’re not betting the ranch,” Gansmann said. And like Gansmann’s card-counting strategy, his plan for Saturday is to beat the odds. And he said the best way to do that is with the right attitude. “When everybody goes into this they should think every hand they have is going to be a royal flush,” he said. “Because no one can beat that.” Summit Showdown Poker Tournament• What: Texas Hold’em tournament sponsored by the Summit County Rotary Club with 20 tables with 11 players each. Players will compete for a spot in the Denver Poker Tour, held June 22 in Denver. The Denver event is an elimination event for the next step, the World Series of Poker final event in Las Vegas. • When: Doors open a 5 p.m. and play starts at 6 on Saturday
• Where: Silverthorne Pavilion• Cost: $60 includes player’s seat, food and first drink• More information: Call (970) 418-0207 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Lindsey Krusen can be reached at (970) 668-3998, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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