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Locals in World Series of Poker

April E. ClarkGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. Larry Dragon’s golfing buddies call him “Lucky” – and he’s hoping the moniker rings true this week in Las Vegas.Dragon, a professional mediator from New Castle, is still alive in the main event of the World Series of Poker, taking place at the Rio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. He played Friday, July 6 and Tuesday, July 10, and resumes competition Thursday, July 12. “It’s pretty wild,” Dragon said of the competition. “There’s a combination of skill and luck. It does require a lot of thought – besides the physicality, it’s a lot like golf. It’s something you don’t ever master. Every situation is different. Just like in golf, every shot is different.”When he began the world championship tournament play, the field included more than 6,300 people, Dragon said. By Wednesday’s end, there were 750. Dragon began with 20,000 chips and by Tuesday was up to 85,000.

“You’re not in the money until there are 621 players left,” he said, by cell phone from his Vegas hotel room. “My chip stack is pretty low right now, but one good hand and I could be back in the game.”Dragon is participating in the $10,000 World Championship No-Limit Texas Hold-’em competition.Lucky for him, he didn’t have to pay the $10,000 entry fee.Dragon won entry into the tournament while playing in a poker fundraising benefit in Aspen. “Some wealthy person donated $10,000 to the event, but the money had to be used for the World Series of Poker,” he said. “If I win any money, I only get 64 percent of the winnings. Ten percent goes to the charities involved (in the Aspen benefit), and 26 percent go to the other people who were at my table that night. That means I have a lot of people pulling for me.”The winner of the WSOP goes home with $8.25 million. But Dragon doesn’t try and think about the jackpot.”It’s probably the most mentally stressful, pressured thing I’ve done in my life,” he said. “It’s pretty intense – very grueling.”The first day of competition, Dragon played poker for 12 hours, with breaks. He said at least 95 percent of the big names in poker are out of the series.”That’s how difficult it is,” he said. “The greats make mistakes, too. They get knocked out, too. It’s really an amazing event – there are people here from all over the world.”During the tournament, Dragon has spotted celebrities such as “Spiderman” star Toby Maguire, “Everybody Loves Raymond” comedians Ray Romano and Brad Garrett, and talk-show host Montell Williams.”Ray Romano survived the first day, but was knocked out the second day,” Dragon said. “Brad Garrett had the TV cameras on him all the time. You can buy massages at the table, and when Brad Garrett won he was kissing the dealer on the head and he ended up buying massages for everyone at the table.”Unlike many celebrity poker players, sunglasses are not Dragon’s style.”I will not wear sunglasses,” he said. “I don’t need to hide my eyes. At one table, there were probably three or four (people wearing sunglasses) in a table of nine. They watch too much TV.”Dragon is not the only valley poker player in the WSOP. He said Shannon Hudson, of Glenwood Springs, remains on the roster of players.Contact April Clark: 945-8515, ext. 16601aclark@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO


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