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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Fine Line Separates Gambling from Investing

19 October 2005

Walter Clyde "Puggy" Pearson, a 76-year-old professional gambler, poker player and former World Series of Poker champion, once made this observation: "Ain't only three things to gambling – knowing the 60/40 end of the proposition, money management and knowin' yourself".

When Bill Miller, manager of the high profile Legg Mason Value Trust, heard the quote he commented: "It's all you need to know about investing".

Miller is recognized as one of the top money managers in the world. The trust he manages set a financial world record by beating the S&P 500 an unprecedented 14 years in a row.

When the editors of the highly respected and widely read financial periodical Money Magazine got wind of the correlation that Miller made between gambling and investment money managers, they got an idea:

Why not arrange a Texas Hold'em Poker match pitting the nation's most successful financial advisors against professional poker players? The idea gave birth to the Money Poker Challenge, a winner-take-all competition which was held at Harrah's Las Vegas in late 2004.

Miller was invited to play in the match along with the following other world class money managers:

  • John Rogers, CEO of Ariel Capital Management, a fund which returned 21 percent a year over a five year period, better than 97 percent of all stock funds.
  • Bill Gross, Chief Investment Officer for Pimco. Gross, a former professional blackjack player, is widely regarded as the world's top bond investor.
  • Mario Gabelli, CEO of Gabelli Asset Management, a 28-year-old firm that manages nearly $30 billion in assets.

The quartet of financial gurus was pitted against professional players Johnny Chan, a two-time winner of the World Series of Poker, and Jennifer Harman, one of the top female players in the world. Pearson was invited but was unable to attend. The table of eight included a writer from Money Magazine and one other player.

The one-day tournament is chronicled in the May 2005 edition of Money Magazine.

Gabelli wound up winning the Challenge, but it was the third place finisher, Rogers, who found the competition so interesting that he decided to enter the 2005 World Series of Poker, which was held earlier this year in the new convention center at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

"The thing that was interesting is that they thought there was a real correlation between skills you need to be a good poker player to being a good money manager," said Rogers, 47, who is from Chicago. "The themes of discipline, patience and creativity all come to play. I thought it would be fun one more time to have a chance to play in the one big World Series and to have that once in a lifetime experience.

"The other thing that piqued my interest is that we have always over the years owned a lot of stock in the various gaming companies. It's interesting to see this growth area, how fast it's growing and how important it has become. It helps me as an analyst to get out there and experience it first hand to really get a flavor of what's happening, how Vegas is changing, and what the important growth areas are in Las Vegas."

Rogers entered the showcase main event of the WSOP, the No Limit Texas Hold'em Championship, which drew 5,619 players from all around the world and a record $56,190,000 prize pool.

"I was pleased just to make it through the first day," said Rogers, who lost after the first break on the second day. "Just to feel the energy was something. The intensity was really there. Everybody was really concentrating and it was quiet a lot. Not much bantering at all. The professionalism of the group was a little higher than I had anticipated. It was fun to see the movie stars and the poker stars which were all so accessible. It's something I'll be able to tell my grandchildren about some day."

Eighteen ESPN cameras recorded the entire seven week WSOP competition. The network is currently airing one-hour highlight programs culminating with comprehensive coverage of the dramatic final table on Nov. 15.

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp