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Friday, July 07, 2006

Poker Pros Lurking Around WSOP Satellite Tables

 

Even if you're not planning on playing in one the featured events of the World Series of Poker (WSOP), there's still a chance to face a familiar professional if you decide to play in the satellites or cash games. Poised around the rails of those tables are televised pros, eager to grab the buy-in money needed to enter the bigger tournaments. If you're lucky (or unlucky, depending on your goal), these players might even sit down with you and play a hand or two. One willing professional is Ron Rose, the 59-year old World Poker Tour (WPT) and WSOP Champion who relishes the opportunity to play at the WSOP, but doesn't really care to throw down the hefty money needed to enter.

"The way I figure it, if I can't beat 10-players and earn the buy-in, I'm probably not good enough to win anyways, so why waste the money?" Rose said.

Rose has never paid full price for his Main Event entry and rarely pays the whole buy-in for his entries into the smaller events. The veteran player said he normally wins the money he needs in one or two tries, good enough to ensure his chances at the big money for fractions of their potential cost. He is not the only player to employ this tactic, as most entrants into the WSOP events come via satellite, but he is probably one of the method's biggest supporters.

"Tournament poker is about beating the other players," Rose said. "Satellites are a great way to see if you have what it takes."

Rose has proven he has what it takes. The businessman turned professional poker player basically used his Internet business success as a satellite into the sport. Using the healthy bankroll he earned after selling his start-up company, Rose took up poker to fulfill his childhood dream of becoming a professional.

Touring the United States and Europe in the early part of this decade, Rose first found fame in 2001 at the Aviation Club in Paris, earning the title of Best Overall Player by winning three tournaments in one week.

A well-rounded player, Rose won two Omaha tournaments and one Limit Hold'em tournament that year, only to return in 2002 and take home a No Limit Hold'em title. He likes all types of poker, but tournaments are his forte.

He continued to play solid poker after Paris, winning the 2002 Omaha Hall of Fame Poker Classic in the states, but he didn't get his big television break until the WPT stated airing episodes in 2003. In the sixth WPT telecast, Rose was featured at the final table with Andy Bloch, Phil Ivey, Layne Flack and the winner, Howard Lederer.

After a couple of tough hands, Rose finished sixth at that table. However, later in the year he won the Reno Hilton World Poker Challenge, a feat that netted him nearly $200,000 and a coveted WPT title. Due to the popularity of the upstart WPT, he virtually became a household name overnight.

His most impressive victory is probably his least known. When the WPT aired the "Battle of Champions" opposite the Superbowl Pre-game Show, Rose proved he belonged with the games top pros, solidifying his standing in the tournament poker community.

If you add the WSOP gold bracelet Rose won in summer of 2003 at the no Limit Hold'em Seniors event, Rose won and cashed in more major tournaments in a one year span than most players do in a lifetime.

"Playing professionally was always a dream of mine," Rose said. "I love the competition in tournament poker and so far it's been good to me."

Although he considered retiring from poker to pursue other life goals, Rose is back on the scene in 2006, ready to take a run at the biggest prize pool in tournament poker history.

His journey will begin with the satellites. As of Friday, June 30, Rose had won a couple smaller satellites and pocketed several coveted WSOP $500 tournament entry chips. He said he's slowly building a bankroll that will allow him to put down the money needed to play for the bracelets.

He plans to play in the No Limit Hold'em Seniors event on July 12, the tournament he won three years ago. He also plans to qualify for the Main Event through the $1,000 satellites offered daily until the Main Event begins in late July.

But if you're looking to play with Rose while he's trying to earn his seat, there are a few things you should know.

Although many players in the satellites bargain at the end to ensure a piece of the winner-takes-all prize pool, Rose is reluctant to do so, especially if he has a lead. He's there to win and he believes deals often kill the spirit of the satellite tournament.

"I will make a deal if the offer is beneficial to me," Rose said. "But I never bring it up, I leave that to my opponent."

He also plays for keeps. Poker is like a business to Rose and although he's extremely personable away from the felt, when seated at the table, he's not your friend. Guard your chips carefully; Rose said he plays every satellite like it's the Main Event.

If your goal at the World Series is to come play against the professionals, but you're not looking to play in the grueling three-day events, your best bet is at the satellite tables. Chances are, you'll run into a familiar face like Ron Rose. Just don't get too attached to your chips.

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