Top ‘dreamer’ takes WSOP Circuit event

May 9, 2005 2:12 AM

Every successful person endures failure: whether it’s in business, athletics, or even relationships. In fact, failing is part of life’s process.

Meet Jerry Reed. He was a pitcher in the Los Angeles Angels farm system in the early 1960s. However, Reed was released before he could make it to the majors. Nights spent in hotel rooms in the minor league system did gradually lead to another competitive passion: poker.

"I used to play poker with the other ballplayers players at night," Reed said. "We used to make odds on who would be released the next day. I used to always be the favorite. Sure enough, one morning, I was cut."

After leaving baseball, Reed started and owned a successful video production business. His recreational interest in poker led to game development and a brand new advanced concept: a video poker table.

In the late 1970s, Reed developed a multi-player poker table with video graphics. He was inspired to develop the new high-tech table because many poker games (including all games in California) were self-dealt and riddled with problems.

Reed’s video poker table assured accuracy, randomization, and fairness to all players. He introduced the game in California. Unfortunately, legal authorities were confused by the "video poker" tag and thinking it was a slot-related device, they pulled the plug. Reed’s mistake was that he was too far ahead of his time.

Reed’s ”˜failures’ were, in fact, learning experiences which motivated him to try new things and develop alternative ideas to the status quo. Now age 67, he is promoting a new poker venture, and playing in major tournaments.

Lake Tahoe’s $500 buy-in, World Series of Poker Circuit no-limit hold’em tournament, attracted 182 entries competing for $88,270 in prize money. Day one resulted in the elimination of 173 players. The nine finalists returned on day two, with Jerry Reed holding a commanding chip lead over the field. Players were eliminated as follows:

9th Place: The final table started out with a bang. Steve Schiccitano was dealt pocket aces, flopped trip aces, and still lost the pot. Dan Owen had K-J, flopped a made-straight, and also had a royal flush redraw. The straight held up and Owen had avoided elimination, at least for the moment. Unfortunately, that would be Owen’s only bright moment of the finale, as he was knocked out a few hands later when his ace high failed to pair. Owen, a retired business executive, collected $1,764.

8th Place: Bobby ”˜Turbo’ Martin (second in chips) took a beat and then doubled up twice, putting him back into the race. Meanwhile, it took an hour before the next player was eliminated. Don Mullis was short-stacked throughout his stay, and finally went ”˜all in’ with second pair (9s), losing to Jerry Reed’s top pair (aces). Mullis has enjoyed a fabulous Lake Tahoe tournament, to date. This marked his fourth final table appearance, in six tries. Mullis, a classy North Carolina-based retiree who is traveling around the country in a mobile home, also won Event no. 4. 8th place paid $2,650.

7th Place: Keith Rahman made an ”˜all in’ raise from the button with A-9 and was called instantly by ”˜Turbo’ in the blind with A-K. Rahman failed to make a pair and went out in 7th place. The private security manager from Oregon locked up $3,530.

6th Place: Josh Ewing was making his second final table appearance. The 24-year-old Lake Tahoe local was blinded down to felt and ultimately took $4,415 for 6th place.

5th Place: Bobby Martin ordered a kamikaze (shot) and true to his maniacal image, moved ”˜all in’ for the fifth time in 10 minutes. Unfortunately, he picked the wrong time to be hyper-aggressive. Jerry Reed looked down and saw A-K and called the raise in a flash. Both players flopped an ace, but when a king fell on the turn, Turbo was drawing dead. Turbo finally ran out of gas, but did pocket $5,295.

4th Place: Mike "Shoes" Gambony, a former professional pool player who has converted to poker playing, went out next. The native Texan now living in Scottsdale, AZ won the Iowa State Poker Championship in 2001 and has also made three WSOP final tables. But his shot at victory in this event hit the rail. Fourth place paid $7,060.

3rd Place: That left three players remaining, with Jerry Reed holding a better than 3-to-1 chip lead versus both opponents. However, if Reed thought the final stretch would be easy, he was in for a battle. The trio played for 90 long minutes before Steve Schicchitano finally had to commit his final chips on a draw. Schicchitano was dealt 9-8 and watched as the flop came 10-10-7. An outside straight draw led Schicchitano to move ”˜all in,’ which was called by Reed with A-7. The second pair held up, and Schicchitano, a business agent from Pleasanton, CA was out with 3rd place prize money, $8,825.

The heads-up duel between Jerry Reed and Param Gill began with Reed holding a formidable 222,000 to 52,000 chip advantage. On the first hand of play, Reed was dealt A-A and raised, which caused Gill to fold. That hand would pretty much define the closing chapter of the tournament. Gill managed to survive six hands before the odds ultimately caught up with him and he was eliminated. Reed was dealt 9-5 versus Gill’s Q-4, which amounted to two ugly hold’em hands. But the worst hold’em hand can sometimes be a thing of beauty. Reed thought the flop was beautiful, when 7-7-5 put him into the lead. Successive rounds brought two blanks, and Reed was the latest WSOPC champion.