It looked like it was not going to be an ordinary night at Dania Jai-Alai right from the beginning. After all, it was a birthday party for Dania Jai-Alai, celebrating the 55th year of operation.
The poker room was featuring another Dan LeBatard Celebrity Poker Tournament, guaranteeing a $5,500 first prize. Most concession items were 55 cents. And, there was free cake.
Then, it happened. Twenty minutes before the start of the poker tournament, Pablo Ugando from Hollywood, playing in a no-limit hold’em game, leaped from the table as he hit a royal flush in hearts. The crowd roared when they realized that the hearts jackpot was $11,080.
“I was just killing some time before the start of the tournament,” Ugando said. “This definitely covers my $50 entry fee and now I’m going to try to win the LeBatard.”
But, Ugando’s luck ran out and he was eliminated early. But, the two hosts, Dan LeBatard and Stugotz both got great cards and began accumulating stacks of chips.
Stugotz bowed out at 25th place, the best finish of all his tournaments. With the blinds high after 3½ hours of play, there were 20 players remaining at the final two tables, LeBatard being the chipleader.
Finally, with 13 players of the original 302 starters left, and LeBetard still the clear chipleader, they all agreed to “chop” the pot, each player collecting $857. LeBatard won the troph for his own tournament.
“What would you do,” he said sheepishly. “I have always been against “chopping” pots, I play to win. But, it is amazing that I got that far in my own tournament, it was the right thing to do,” he said.