Single page view By Jay Lovinger
Page 2

Back in the late 1940s and early '50s, when modern art was booming in America, the ultimate no-no for an artist was to be bourgeois – meaning anything middle class and tacky, like desiring large amounts of money and other material rewards. Modern artists were notorious for demonstrating that they were not, in any way, bourgeois by, for example, peeing on expensive living room rugs during parties given by their Park Avenue patrons. Finally, Andy Warhol decided the ultimate bourgeois thing was the fear of being bourgeois, and to demonstrate this, he took an ad out in the Village Voice, a prominent New York alternative newspaper, that consisted only of his name and phone number and the following promise: "I will endorse anything for money."

Well, I'm ready to go the late, great king of pop art one better: I'm ready to sell my soul to anyone for money.

Yes, I'm looking for a backer to pay my way into the World Series of Poker championship event – the standard deal, the same one Stuey Ungar got from Billy Baxter back in 1997, full payment of the $10,000 buy-in, in exchange for 50 percent of the profits.

Since The Kid won the whole thing that year, for a record-tying third championship in the main event, it turned out to be a pretty good deal for Baxter. Stuey won $1 million, meaning Baxter got $500,000, or a 4,900 percent net return on his investment. Well, that's nothing compared with the possibilities for anyone with the imagination and foresight to back me. With 5,000 or more entries expected this year – there were 312 in 1997, the biggest field ever (at that time) for a poker tournament – first prize should be somewhere between $8 million and $10 million, so the return on the same $10,000 investment Billy provided Stuey could bring back $5 million, or a cool 49,900 percent net return on your money.

Jackpot Jay horse

Of course, since this year's championship will take eight days instead of the four days it took back in 1997, your annualized profit percentage will be relatively lower. And my odds of winning the championship are probably slightly lower than Stuey's were. But still …

It's pretty obvious what the advantages of this arrangement are to me:

(1) Amortization of risk.

(2) Quantum improvement of the chances of ending my yearlong odyssey as a poker pro in the black.

What's in it for you, dear benefactor? Well, a lot:

(1) It's better than buying a bunch of lottery tickets. This can be calculated with exact mathematical precision … assuming a few things. We know, for example, that winning $5 million in a lottery is roughly a 15,000,000-1 shot, after you take out the state's exorbitant share (our local governments, though elected by us, make casino operators and numbers runners look generous by comparison) and the money that goes for lesser prizes.

But what are the chances of Jackpot Jay winning the WSOP? Not fabulous, I admit, but a lot better than 15,000,000-1.

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Let's say, for the sake of argument, there will be 200 top pros in the WSOP whose chances of winning are 20 times as good as mine. Let's further postulate that there will be another 1,000 entrants who have twice as good a chance to win as yours truly. And let's further suppose that of the roughly 4,000 additional players expected to compete, I am somewhere in the middle, with as much chance to beat out the bottom half as the top half have to beat me. I figure that makes me roughly a 4-1 shot [(200 x 20 + 1,000 x 2 + 2,000)/2,000] against any other individual player – or a 20,000-1 shot to win the whole thing.



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