Bob Stupak III: Driving home final memory

February 22, 2011 6:00 AM


Folks, for the past couple of weeks I have been writing about the Polish Maverick, Bob Stupak, Vegas World Casino owner, gambler and poker player.

You know all my stories are at least 97 percent true since I kissed the Blarney Stone a few years ago. But this one is 99.99 percent pure – like Ivory soap, it will float.

My friend and fellow Oklahoman, Berry Johnston (a member of "The Seniors" World Championship of Poker’s Hall of Fame) won the America’s Cup final event. Stupak, true to his word, played Berry a no limit hold’em heads-up freeze out with his Rolls Royce in the balance.

But, Berry’s foot missed the log, and Bob kept the pink slip to his limo.

Fast forward a few months to the next poker tournament, the Stairway to the Stars held at the Stardust. This took place during the time frame when the movie Casino was being filmed. Billy Smith was the card room manager and Bob Thompson, the "Silver Eagle" and member of "The Seniors" WCOP/ Poker Players Hall of Fame, was the tournament director.

Thompson – one of the best – arranged to hold, in addition to the regular events, three special heads-up match play tournament events.

Like a tennis tourney bracket – first round with, say, 64 players was cut down to 32, then 16, then eight, then four and finally there were two left who played in a heads-up freeze out.

The events were $500 +50 buy-in, no limit hold’em, Omaha hi no limit hold’em and limit hold’em.

When the no limit hold’em match play was scheduled, there were an odd number of players. Thompson had the players draw for a bye in the first round and gave out several byes, thereby making the bracket work so that 32 players would remain after the first round.

I drew a bye for the first round; I am always lucky and try hard to STAY LUCKY!! Bob Stupak arrived at the Stardust tournament too late to enter and couldn’t play in the event.

He really wanted to play, so Bob Thompson told him he could play if someone who already had a bye would agree to give it up and let him play their position.

Thompson told me about it and I said sure, I will work out a deal with him so he can play, and I gave up my bye.

Keep in mind that Bob had previously beat my fellow Oklahoman Johnston in the America’s Cup.

My deal with Bob Stupak was this:

If I beat Bob, I would get the Rolls Royce, the chauffeur, a tank of gas and $500 expenses for one week. It did not sit well in Oklahoma poker playing circles that someone from Vegas could beat one of us Oklahoma boys.

Plus, I wanted to expunge the stain on Oklahoma poker.

The match was on and, of course, I beat him and won the Rolls Royce, $500 expense money and Bob’s driver for one week.

It would be better if someone else could finish this story, because in Oklahoma we only tell the facts, and the facts are I not only beat Bob and won the limo for a week, I also won the tournament.

In fact, I won all three of the Match Play events, and I still have all three trophies up at my ranch in Arizona to prove it.

We have a saying in Oklahoma for just about everything. The saying fits here: If it’s fact, it’s not brag.

My wife Carol’s mother and father were flying in for a visit, so I just put the limo at their disposal for the time they were here. It sure made me look good around the house!

OKJ Tip for the Week:

"Half our life is spent trying to find a good game of poker!"

The achievement of excellence as a poker player requires great effort, much planning, and even more time. If you play poker with mediocrity it will cost you more.

It will drain your energy, your money and waste more time than if you took the time to learn how to play good solid poker correctly.

Until next time remember to Stay Lucky!!