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No oatmeal at the poker table

Oct 1, 2002 5:25 AM

   You just never know who you might run into in a poker game. Case in point was when players at the Binion’s Horseshoe poker room found themselves dueling for chips with veteran Quaker Oats pitchman and actor Wilford Brimley this past week.

   Those who follow major poker tournament play would already know that it was no bargain going up against this charming, rustic-looking actor with his famous walrus-like mustache. He is a veteran player, and he definitely knows how to play poker.

   Although unable to play in this year’s World Series of Poker, Brimley is one of two celebrities (Gabe Kaplan being the other one) to regularly hit the tables each spring, looking for THE championship title in poker at the WSOP. In fact, in 2001 Brimley nearly made it to the final table of the main event.

   “I had pocket queens and went all-in for about $265,000 with a fella that had A-8,” Brimley explained. “He drew out on me (he hit another ace). I was the favorite in that hand, you know, but he beat me fair and square, and then ended up making it to the final table.” he explained.

   It wasn’t really poker that brought the affable Brimley to the Horseshoe tables this past week, but he did manage to work in a little poker during his brief stay. He was married on Thursday, and then he and his new bride Joan celebrated his 68th birthday on Friday.

   “Binion’s Horseshoe is the only place I ever play poker in Las Vegas,” said Brimley. “I usually only make it here three or four times a year, but this is the best place to play. I didn’t get to play long, but Joan knows how much I enjoy it and wanted me to play some while we were here.”

   Born in Salt Lake City, where he now lives, Brimley was raised in Santa Monica, CA. He did some interesting work prior to becoming an actor, including stints as a farmer, rodeo rider, ranch hand, racehorse trainer and blacksmith. And a little known fact about Brimley was that he also was a bodyguard for Howard Hughes for a short time.

   He started his acting career working mostly as an extra and a stuntman in western films with his good friend, the late Richard Farnsworth. His true acting debut came in “The Electric Horseman” (1979), and was followed by many more film roles that included an acclaimed role in “The China Syndrome” (1979), plus “Brubaker” (1980), “Absence of Malice” (1981), “The Natural” (1985), “Cocoon” (1985), “Cocoon: the Return” (1988), “The Firm” (1993), “My Fellow Americans” (1996) and many others. He was a regular on the TV series “Our House” (1986-1988) and “The Boys of Twilight” (1992), and appeared in many TV movies.

   When asked if he will be back to play in the WSOP again, he responded, “If at all possible, I will be there. There’s nothing else like it in the world.”

   SOMETHING FOR THE LADIES ONLY. The Hustler Casino will hold its first annual Ladies VIP Passport Poker Tournament the weekend of Oct. 18-20, which will kick off opening night in the Sports Bar with an all male Hustler Hunk review, followed by tournament play at 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday’s tournament will be limit Hold’em, while Sunday’s action features a mix of Hold’em, Stud and Omaha Hi-Lo. Both tournaments will cost $50 plus $10 with no re-buys and will include a free buffet meal. Winners will receive a poker cruise for two or a trip to Costa Rica.

   PROMOTIONS IN THE ROOMS: Poker Manager Ric Baum at Circus Circus shows player appreciation by offering several promotional cash rewards in addition to treating his players to an evening food buffet at 4 o’clock each day Monday through Friday. Cash prizes up to $100 are given each day for fours of a kind or higher, with $20 prizes going to losing full houses. T-shirts and $50 cash prizes are drawing prizes given to players during Monday night’s pro football game telecast, and graveyard shift players earn drawing tickets starting from midnight to 8 a.m. every night for $100 prizes given at 8:30 (winners must be present to win). See Ric for more details. Sam’s Town will play host to a $5,000 free roll tournament on Nov. 5th.  Poker room manager Dick Gatewood says players must log in 50 hours of play during the month of October to qualify for a seat in the tournament. Players will receive a Sam’s Town logo shirt for every 50 hours of play they record during the month. Gatewood also announced that bad beat jackpots are starting for Omaha and 7 card Stud games (they’ve had one for Texas Hold’em), and a lucky player each quarter of Monday night’s pro football telecast could win up to $100 if their ticket is drawn. Players start earning drawing tickets for full houses or better from 9 a.m. Sunday. Ask Dick for more details.

 (If you have poker news or items of interest for GamingToday poker readers, you can call me at 702-798-1151 Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific Time, fax at 702-798-2069, or send me an email at [email protected])