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Justin Hibbard
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August 09, 2006

Sand Hill Hold 'Em

Justin Hibbard

People who know me know that my wife is a professional poker player. She's ranked by Card Player magazine, finished in the money in the Omaha event at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, and has played at the same table as legends like Barry Greenstein, Scotty Nguyen, and David Sklansky. We have an occasional Tuesday night poker game at our house that includes a VC, a Google employee, and an Apple employee, all of whom have made significant contributions to the Hibbard family treasury (thanks, guys, keep it coming). So naturally I perked up when I heard about the third annual Sand Hill Invitational, a charity poker tournament at the exclusive Menlo Circus Club in Atherton, Calif. (not exactly Binion's Horseshoe). Among the playaz were partners at Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Benchmark Capital, and DCM-Doll Capital Management. Now, I love the idea of playing for charity, and it's great that the event raised money for Fresh Lifelines for Youth, a worthy cause. But let's be clear: This wasn't the kind of tournament where Chris "Jesus" Ferguson and Annie Duke drop in to rub shoulders with the whales. This was more like casino night at the office holiday party or, to put it less charitably, poker with training wheels. First, the participants played on teams--great for company morale, but real tournament poker is not a team sport. Second, the buy-in was a puny $250. A seat at the WSOP main event costs $20,000--now that's a buy-in. Third, the blinds started at $1-$2. With such tiny forced bets, nobody was going to be in danger of getting blinded off and having to go all-in. So, I have a message: If any of the fish, er, I mean participants in the Sand Hill Invitational ever feel like playing for real money, our Tuesday night game is always open to deep-pocketed donkeys, er, I mean newcomers, especially ones who like to call a lot and have recently sold a portfolio company for over $500 million.

01:11 PM

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