Andy Beal and the Corporation
Feb 13, 2006  
2006 Jason Kirk  

Andy Beal. Even if you do know the story of the billionaire banker from Texas and his challenges with a group of the best poker players in the world, you've probably never seen his face. And now, chances are that you never will. Beal, the billionaire banker from Texas, has apparently backed out of a scheduled appearance in the 2006 National Heads Up Poker Championship and is "done with poker for good." It appears that the man who became famous taking on the world's best in matches of heads-up limit hold'em never wanted his fame and is stepping aside before the spotlight arrives.

Those who don't already know the story of Beal taking on "the Corporation" should do themselves a favor and pick up The Professor, The Banker, and the Suicide King by Michael Craig. It's a spectacular history of Beal's challenges against the best in the world. Craig describes how, through sheer effort, Beal made himself into a formidable opponent for the top players in the world today. He studied up on limit hold'em and dedicated himself to being completely unreadable to his opponents. Beal also wielded a psychological weapon against his opponents: he forced them to play at higher stakes than they'd ever played.

In the beginning, the effect of playing larger stakes than those to which they were accustomed was the same for the professionals as it is for players much lower on the food chain who play above their heads - they were intimidated. Beal was able to put many of the pros off their games simply by being aggressive with them. As time went by, though, the pros were able to get a definite advantage over Beal. A big part of this was due to the pros combining their bankrolls to withstand the swings of the levels Beal wanted to play, but the play of individuals like Ted Forrest and Todd Brunson against Beal helped the Corporation to come out ahead in all the previous battles.

This time around, Beal met with the Corporation at the Wynn in Las Vegas for another $50,000-100,000 heads-up limit hold'em match. Beal didn't choose his opponents, so the lineup that faced him switched several times. He lost to Jennifer Harman but won back that and more from Ted Forrest. He won about $600,000 from David Grey in a very short span and was ahead in the neighborhood of $1.3 million after the first three days of play. Then, things changed. Ted Forrest took down a $4 million win against Beal and put the Corporation up approximately $2.2 million. After a day of playing Todd Brunson, Beal finally called it quits and left Las Vegas to go back home to Texas.

When Beal ended his last match against the Corporation he said he was finished with poker, but he came back again early this year. That makes it hard to say whether his pledge this time around that he's done with the game will hold true. On one hand, Beal has truly done it all - he's played the biggest game in the world and gave the biggest names in the poker world a run for their money. On the other hand, he didn't win - and he's got a history of coming back when he says he's finished. As time goes by, Beal's notoriety will likely grow to legendary status in the poker world even if his hands never touch the felt again. His fame will rest on the strong shoulders of his determination and courage in taking on the best poker players in the world - those are qualities that aren't easily forgotten.

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