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POKER AT LARRIGATA WITH PROFESSOR LARRY LINDSEY

Poker
By Wendeen H. Eolis
Poker Player Newspaper
August 13, 2013

A nine hour drive from New York City, six and a half hours from Atlantic City, and four hours from Washington D.C., Larry Lindsey welcomed his “Poker Week” guests at his spectacular ocean side house in Virginia Beach.  The former associate professor of economics at Harvard University, who served as special assistant to the president in the first Bush administration, has a wide circle of friends—notably including an eclectic group of poker players he wanted to know better.

The Cast

The parade of guests begins with the arrival of Will, a professional dealer from a Charlestown, West Virginia public card room. He worked well for long hours and played well in the sandbox when he was off-duty.  Billy, a quiet and intense competitor, showed up with his wife and baby in tow. Then there were John and Sam, friends from college. They work out hard in the gym and diligently at the poker table. Sumit, is a patent lawyer. He paid close attention to details at the game. Brandon brings smarts and wicked wit to the table. Finally Tom makes his entrance with a lovely at his side.  He came here more to socialize than in search of big winnings; he takes down more than his fair share of profits from the poker economy, according to his staunchest rivals.

Mother Jean, and Lovely Tammy tenderized the proceedings throughout the week. Larry added yours truly to the guest list, believing we could splice together our respective worlds of politics and poker  in early morning chats before the young guns shuttled over to Larrigata in golf carts from their own private group share residence—another of Larry’s houses situated just a mile down the beach road.

The common denominators that bind this spirited group are the playground of the Charlestown poker room and the high limit area of the Borgata poker room. up the coast a piece in Atlantic City.  Larry’s digs were dubbed Larrigata by his poker guests to honor him and his affection for the consummate poker room for customer service—the Borgata.

The players invited to Larrigata are recognized by peers as solid combatants. Some of them take down healthy six figure poker incomes yearly, and at least one is revered as King Midas with a golden touch.

I knew instantly the Larrigata line up would not provide an example of  predictably profitable game selection—unless the cards cooperated.  So my game plan was simple: give away as little as possible, play strong hands, avoid post flop activity that requires much guessing, and counteract bullying with trapping when given a chance. Above all, observe —and learn something.

The housing accommodations were actually better than spectacular. The action flowed continuously in the main house, alternating between good food, plenty of beverages with shots of tequila, the favorite, and generous doses of poker as the centerpiece of the festivities, here. The first house is Larry’s residence; the second served as home base for most of the guests. It was also the place to meet for pool, ping pong, and a screening of Rounders on the big TV. The activities were organized by Larry’s executive assistant, Liz, who alternated as concierge extraordinaire and chairman of the daily events, and she never missed a beat in her responsibility to keep Larry focused on vacation.

The boys were not shy about expressing their pleasure in being invited to this week long poker party, but you could see, every one of them was also on full alert aiming to strike the  perfect balance of competitor and comrade, and indeed they did—thanks mostly to Larry’s magic.

Our Host

The internationally recognized economist had long since concluded that poker is a game of skill, for those who pursue the math and social science, adeptly. But, for this particular poker week, Larry had a slightly different plan for himself and his hand-picked poker buddies.

He intended to create a seven day immersion into the lives of smart young bucks with poker savvy he has yet to fully cultivate. And, he intended for his guests,  a vacation like none other, and one that would offer life lessons as enlightening as a poker odds calculator. Larry scored on both objectives.

Larry Lindsey’s Books Show His Smarts

During one of many interesting life transitions, Larry met up with a psychologist who was an avid recreational poker player. She recommended the game as challenging, entertaining, and “therapeutic” Larry stepped up to the tables and embarked upon his poker education.

He brought sterling credentials to the table–a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University, and a success story in  the “publish or perish” world of academia. He counted several complex writings under his belt including the books The Growth Experiment: How the New Tax Policy is Transforming the U.S. Economy, and An Insiders View On How To Succeed In The Oval Office among them. In September, 2013, Basic Books will publish his latest book, The Growth Experiment Revisited.

A Sterling Resume

During the Reagan Administration, Larry served three years on the staff of the Council of Economic Advisers. He then served in the White House as Special Assistant to the President during the first Bush administration, which was where we  met, initially–linked by our respective work for the commander-in-chief. Larry’s government experience also included a five- year stint as a Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.  The next phase of his career was as a Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C.

During George W. Bush’s presidential campaign, we met again,  I in greater awe of Larry than the candidate—for his insightful peeling of the onion on new world economics. The former Texas governor and second Bush president looked to Larry as his key economic advisor early on.

In government we collaborated on the occasional issue from time to time, but lost touch in recent years until we bumped into each other in the Borgata Poker Room. Neither of us knew the other as a poker player. Larry had become chief executive officer of the Lindsey Group—still eagerly sought after for pearls of wisdom and for peeks into his crystal ball of economic predictions of the moment.

Poker Week: the Perfect Respite

During poker week Larry more fully introduced himself. A sensitized  and devoted Dad,  Larry occasionally encouraged Emily, his 19 year old independent daughter, who resides nearby (one of his three children), to take part in the festivities. She is cool, and knows she is an interesting handful to behold! Like myself, Larry’s Charlestown/Atlantic City  poker buddies were duly impressed as they gazed upon Larry in the sun of Virginia Beach.

During Larrigata festivities, Larry bet, checked, raised, and folded with the best of them in this mind bending game of poker that in his world is only sometimes played with cards. He  engineered the environment with seamless precision.  The testosterone moved up a notch each day, the competition stayed in the temperate zone, and there were no reversals of fortune—just a good time had by all.