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  • Skydiving Poker Tournament over Vegas

    Friday, July 28th, 2006 by Mike

JEAN, Nev. (AP) – In the skies over the desert outside Las Vegas on Wednesday, three amateur players and a would-be pro either learned how to keep a poker face at 15,000 feet or were booted off the plane.

The event was part of InterPoker.com’s Extreme Poker series and was scheduled during the World Series of Poker tournament, which began June 25 in the air-conditioned safety and comfort of the Rio hotel-casino.

In Extreme Poker, novice players battle in online tournaments for the right to play Texas Hold ’em in strange locations. The first was played underwater. The second was played on a polar ice cap in Finland.

This time Patrick Neary, 23, from Prince Edward Island, Canada, Jamie Glasser, 24, from Chicago and Fraser Linkleter, 28, from London and Nick “Stoxtrader” Grudzien, 29, from New York, piled into a Short’s Skivan plane to try their hand against Phil “the Unabomber” Laak.

It’s a gimmick, but all the major Internet sites have one, said Landon Cowan, Extreme Poker’s event coordinator.

“Party poker puts their guys up in luxury suites. Others give cash. InterPoker offered to throw you from a plane,” he said.

Grudzien, who recently quit his job to play professionally, also won a spot in the World Series of Poker through the Internet site.

Laak, host of “E! Hollywood Hold ‘Em” and winner of the World Poker Tour in 2004, was the only experienced professional poker player and experienced jumper aboard.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the fear on their faces. It’s a gross and wonderful feeling,” Laak said as the players went through their ground training.

“You’re all going down,” he told them. “Get it? Do you get it? You’re going down.”

Once airborne, the game started slowly.

Each player was given $2,000 in chips. The blinds started at $25 and $50 and doubled every 10 minutes.

Linkleter shook as he put out his chips or took his card, either from nerves or the vibration of the plane.

“I feel the need for speed,” the dealer, Stuart Richey said, checking the time. To avoid intense triple-digit desert heat and predicted afternoon thunderstorms, the game had to be completed before 11 a.m.

“I feel Fraser getting ready to suit up,” Richey said, surveying a dwindling stack of chips.

But Linkleter got lucky and won a couple hands.

Then Neary, holding two jacks, went all-in, and Glasser called, holding a king and queen. When the board showed seven, nine, a pair of 10s and a jack, Neary made three of a kind but Glasser made a king-high straight.

Neary jumped.

Laak was next to go when his bluff was called by Grudzien, who was holding a pair of sixes.

“I busted Phil Laak!” Grudzien said. Back on the ground he was more modest.

“It’s another feather in my hat, but I’m not going to take credit for it. It was a coin flip either way,” Grudzien said.

“I failed to adapt to Nick’s incredible aggressiveness,” Laak said later.

Linkleter held on before eventually losing to Grudzien. He screamed “yahoo!” as he fell.

Grudzien won with only a six and a nine against Glasser’s ace and nine when the last card turned was a six, giving Grudzien the winning pair

Glasser, who confessed a fear of heights, dropped silently.

Grudzien came down safely inside the plane to a red carpet reception on the ground and a trophy.

Then, no stranger to risk, he went back up for a free jump.

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