Sundance Poker Festival
One night I played emcee at A-Rod’s star-studded charity event in Miami, teasing the likes of Jay-Z, Beyonce and Tom Brady (which I wrote about in my last column). The very next night, I was the emcee at the W Las Vegas Hotel, Casino and Residences poker event at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City. In Miami, I drank nothing and didn’t play in the tournament, but at Sundance I drank Dom Perignon and joined the 50-player event. After all, first prize at Sundance was a $700,000 Las Vegas condo, to be built in 2008, and since I wasn’t getting paid to comment, I wanted a shot at winning it.
The event at Park City had a great vibe, with a huge audience watching players like Laura Prepon, Shannon Elizabeth, Gina Gershon, Danny and Chris Masterson, Kevin Smith, Emile Hersch, Good Charlotte’s Benji and Joel Madden, Dave Navarro (with Carmen Electra sitting behind him), Lance Bass, DJ AM, Summer Altice, Anne Heche, and poker pros Annie Duke, Phil Gordon, Phil “the Unabomber” Laak, and Antonio “the Magician” Esfandiari, to name a few. The crowd was watching us play in a huge white tent, with a DJ and video monitors covering the action.
It was a beautiful night for me, for I had Heche, Preppon, Elizabeth, and Gershon all sitting next to me throughout the night. The four of them all played no-limit Hold ’em really well, and handled themselves with class. Prepon lost her chips on a coin flip when her A-Q was all in versus 7-7; she was an 11-to-10 underdog when the chips went in before the flop. Going out with A-Q was very respectable.
As 50 players became 40, I was still in there, with $1,200 of my $2,500 in starting chips. But who cared about playing poker? I was there to emcee, watch some films and enjoy the Sundance atmosphere. As I walked table to table announcing hands, needling the stars and giving them props, and trying to inject a little more energy into the room, I barely looked at 40 percent of the hands that were dealt to me. It seemed as if every time I sat down, someone would call me over to announce a celebrity hand somewhere else, which was OK with me.
With 35 players left, the blinds at $75-$150, and a raise in front of me of $400 to go, I looked down at Ah-Qh and moved all-in. Annie Duke now grabbed the microphone to announce my all-in hand against my opponent’s Kd-Qd. She announced (correctly) that my Ah-Qh was a 2-1/2-to-1 favorite to win the pot over the Kd-Qd. Then the flop shocked the room — and me — when it came down Ad-As-Ac. I had flopped four aces, and someone in the room ran the numbers and declared that that was a 16,000-to-1 shot! Was this a sign of things to come?
The very next hand I raised it up with K-Q, and the big-blind player called me with A-10. The flop came down J-9-4, and we both checked. Then a ten on the turn (J-9-4-10) made me a king-high straight. My opponent bet out $1,000, and I decided that I needed to raise it up, and made it $2,000 to go. My opponent then raised my last $200, and Annie was on the microphone again, announcing another Hellmuth all-in, but this time my opponent was drawing dead.
When we hit the final two tables, with 18 players remaining, I had $24,000 in chips, and now I only had to walk a few feet to announce the other table’s key hands. At this point I was looking at almost every hand, and by now I had stopped drinking Dom Perignon. I still had a shot at winning this thing, but I wasn’t thinking too much about that possibility. I mean, this was an all-or-nothing deal, as Duke cleverly announced later. (“First place was a big house, and second place a TV?”) I was still content to emcee, and I was having a ball doing it.
When we hit the final table, Chris Masterson had the lead with $40,000 in chips, but I was right on his tail with $35,000 or so. Now I didn’t have to stand up anymore, since I could announce the hands right from my seat at the table. Amazingly, I had drawn the same seat that I had occupied all day long. We had had five starting tables, and I happened to draw what would be the final table (the one that never broke down), and then drew seat number five again.
Also at the final table were Annie Duke, Gina Gershon, Shannon Elizabeth and Reagan Silber, who was our host for the evening and the founder of the W Hotel Las Vegas, Casino and Residences. Gershon finished sixth when her Kh-2h failed to beat Silber’s K-K for a huge pot. She had to be over a 13-to-1 underdog with that hand. Elizabeth finished fifth when her K-7 failed to outdraw Masterson’s A-10. She was over a 3-to-2 underdog with her K-7. Duke, roughly a 3-2 underdog when her Q-10 lost to Silber’s A-4 all in before the flop, finished in fourth place.
Suddenly it was Masterson, Silber, and I, and we all had roughly the same number of chips. More about the Sundance Poker Festival next week.
Holding Ah-Qh, the flop will come down As-Ad-Ac:
A) one out of 8,000 flops
B) one out of 16,000 flops
C) one out of every 50,000 flops
D) 50 percent of the time, it does or it doesn’t!