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Gary Trask

Gary  Trask
Gary serves as Casino City's managing editor and has worked as a writer and editor more than 20 years. The Boston native was a member of the Poker Hall of Fame's inaugural Media Committee and a current member of the Women in Poker Hall of Fame voting panel.

Contact Gary at and follow him on Twitter at @CasinoCityGT.

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Hot run at Bellagio helps Raymer buy into H.O.R.S.E. Championship

28 Jun 2009

By Gary Trask

LAS VEGAS -- The numbers were down for the World Series of Poker's $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. World Championship that began on Friday, with just 95 players in the field after attracting nearly 150 in the previous three years.

And if it weren't for a missed alarm clock call on Thursday morning and an late hot streak at the Bellagio poker room early Friday morning by Greg Raymer, the field would have been also been missing one of the most popular and recognizable players in the game.


Fan-favorite Greg Raymer won $29,000 at the Bellagio poker room early Friday morning in a span of 45 minutes.

Raymer, the 2004 Main Event champ who placed 14th in last year's H.O.R.S.E. Championship, decided on Wednesday that he would not play in this year's event because the monstrous buy-in was not going to be picked up by his contract with PokerStars, since it is not being televised on ESPN. But on Thursday Raymer overslept and missed the start of the $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-low Split-8 or Better event that he planned on entering.

So with his wife and daughter on the East Coast for a wedding, Raymer had the night to kill in Las Vegas. He ventured over to the Bellagio to play in a $600-$1,200 mixed game and he told himself that if he had a big night, he would pony up for the H.O.R.S.E. Championship.

"I wasn't thinking that I had to win the whole 50 grand," he explained. "But if I had a decent night I figured I'd buy-in."

At around 12:30 a.m., Raymer was up just $2,000. With the H.O.R.S.E. Championship scheduled to begin on Friday at 12 noon, he figured his shot to buy-in was all over since if he wanted to play in it he needed to leave and get a good night's sleep. So instead of getting up and going home, "FossilMan" decided to play a little longer.

About an hour later, Raymer started running hot. Make that blistering hot. When the clock struck 2:30 a.m. he was ahead $29,000. That's right -- $29k. He did most of his damage in the final 45 minutes and he did it while playing primarily Triple Draw and Hold'em.

"When I got up and realized how much I was actually ahead, I said to myself, '$29,000 is pretty good for one night. Maybe I will play some H.O.R.S.E. tomorrow.'" Raymer chuckled.

And that's exactly what he did. But the cards didn't stay hot for Raymer. Instead he was eliminated from the H.O.R.S.E. Championship early on Day 2.

"Looking back I wish I had only won 10 grand that night," he said in a serious tone. "That way I wouldn't have played in the H.O.R.S.E. and I'd be up $10 grand. Instead I'm down $21,000. That's a big swing."

But don't feel too bad for Raymer. The big guy got his World Series off to a tremendous start this year when he placed third in the special 40th anniversary $40,000 No Limit event and cashed in for $774,927.

"That was a great result; I was thrilled with that," said Raymer, who also cashed for $9,579 in a $2,500 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball event at this year's WSOP and has more than $6.7 million in career-earnings to his name. "The good news is that I can get a bad beat in every tournament for the rest of the year and still make a profit this year. That's a good situation to be in."

As he left the Amazon Room on Saturday night with the H.O.R.S.E. tournament still going on behind him, Raymer was repeatedly stopped by fans in the hallway for autographs and to pose for pictures. He didn't turn down a single request. In fact, he responded to each fan with a smile and a handshake. He showed them the new fossils that he's selling on his Web site, which he personally autographs. He willingly talked poker and gave each person as much time as they wanted, even though he had just been bounced from one of the biggest tournaments on the WSOP calendar and saw a $21,000 chunk erased from his bankroll.

There's a reason why he's so popular.

Before he slipped out for good, Raymer was asked who he thought would prevail in the H.O.R.S.E. event.

"Honestly, there's not a player in there who can't win," said Raymer, who added that he thinks his best game in Stud 8. "I'm not dodging the question. I'm just saying that when this thing started with 95 players there were very few in the field that could not win. It's a world-class field. This is the type of tournament where you've got to play good and run hot. And everyone in there can do just that."

Including Greg Raymer, as some high-stakes poker players at the Bellagio found out early Friday morning.

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