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Poker News | People in Poker | Poker Superstars

Bobby Baldwin

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Taken from Las Vegas Review Journal
Sunday, April 13, 2003
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal
Big games bring in big money, big names
Mirage Resorts' boss, buddies set up at Sam's Town

Bobby Baldwin
For the baseball cap-sporting crowd that frequents Sam's Town's cozy nine-table poker parlor, the eight players seated at a corner table last weekend looked like those at any other table in the room.
But appearances were deceiving.

At most of the Sam's Town tables, players buy in for about $100 and play low-limit Texas hold'em, Omaha or seven-card stud, with bets limited to $8.

A big pot in a low-limit game might contain $200.

At the corner table, the buy-in is also a hundred, but it's a "hundred large," $100,000. Bets range from $2,000 to $8,000, and six-figure wins and losses are the norm.

Almost all of the city's public big-money poker games take place in Bellagio's upscale poker room, but when Mirage Resorts Chief Executive Officer Bobby Baldwin wants to play against some of his longtime poker chums, he arranges a table at Sam's Town.

Baldwin, a former World Series of Poker champ and one of the city's top-paid gaming executives at better than $7 million in total 2002 compensation, was in action last Sunday, 24 hours after the game began, dressed innocuously in his own baseball cap.

More than $1 million was on the table, in stacks placed in front of some of the biggest-betting poker players around.

Lyle Berman, Lakes Entertainment chairman and the money man behind the televised World Poker Tour tournament series, was also in the game.

Berman, a World Series event winner and a member of the Poker Hall of Fame, was seated next to two-time World Poker Tour event winner Gus Hansen, a 29-year-old Danish pro.

World Series of Poker champ Doyle Brunson and money-game experts Chip Reese and Ted Forrest were also in the game.

"The boys are all here," Baldwin said as he surveyed the table. "It's nice to get together with the boys."
Baldwin, Brunson and Reese go way back, and when the three Las Vegans get an opportunity to play with big bankroll players, Bellagio's poker boss, Doug Dalton, makes the arrangements with Sam's Town.
Sam's Town's poker boss Dick Gatewood provides a table for the game, and casino host Sam Boyd, son of Boyd Gaming Chairman Bill Boyd, keeps the players comfortable with complementary rooms and other amenities as the game stretches from hours into days.

"The Boyds are superb hosts," Dalton said Sunday. "They really treat the players well."
The game used to take place at the former Regent Las Vegas, now the Rampart Casino. When the Summerlin property closed its poker room more than a year ago, the game moved east to Sam's Town.
The big money table rotates between six or more games, testing the players' versatility.

"They play 'em all," Dalton said, including Chinese poker, triple draw lowball and deuce-to-seven lowball.
Some of the players also visit the Sam's Town craps pit, killing time before the poker game gets going or in hopes of recouping poker losses.

April and May are prime months for the big game, as many of the world's top cash players travel to play in the side games that accompany Bellagio's Five-Star World Poker Classic tourney and the World Series of Poker at Binion's Horseshoe.

The Bellagio tourney continues through Friday; Binion's World Series begins Tuesday and concludes May 23.
Forrest, an occasional tournament player and one of Bellagio's toughest cash players, said last Sunday that the opportunity to play in such a large game made it an easy choice to pass on the $1,570 buy-in tournament events at Bellagio.

"You'd have to finish in first or second place in the tournament (just to equal the amount winners garner at the big-money ring game)," Forrest said as he took a break from play after 24 hours in action.
Who won and who lost? The boys weren't talking.

"Money changes hands, hundreds of thousands at a time, but these guys aren't going to want to talk about that," Dalton said.

Dalton said the camaraderie between players explains why the tough poker players seek a game with world-class opponents.

"Usually you want to find a game where you have a big edge," Dalton said. "There's no big edge in this game, but they're friends. They like to play together."

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