Ask avid watch collector and poker player Ray Suppe. The Patek Philippe watch is a piece of real craftsmanship.
With ultrathin, self-winding movements, the small machine is geared to keep a perpetual calendar complete with moon phases and even leap years.
With ivory-lacquered dials and precision inner workings, the watch is a real feat of human engineering with a price tag in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
It looks cool, too.
Luckily for Suppe, the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas carries his dream watch.
“They’ve got the watch I’ve always wanted to buy,” he said. “Every little piece is handmade. They’re better than a Rolex.”
After winning a Platinum Pass at November’s Winstar World Casino in Oklahoma, he’s hoping to make a big enough score in the $25,000 PokerStars Players Championship (PSPC) to strap the new timepiece on his wrist.
Big win in Oklahoma
Originally from Oakland, Calif., 49-year-old Suppe moved to Fort Worth, Texas, when he was 27. The married father of three works in sales at a printing and direct mail company.
He is a regular player at the Winstar.
The win on the Moneymaker Tour came after winning a tournament at the property two weeks earlier. After his win, someone told him about the PokerStars event, and he fired three bullets on Day 1A.
The tour offers a $86 tournament (the amount Chris Moneymaker spent on a satellite event to qualify for his World Series of Poker win). The $30,000 Platinum Pass includes a $25,000 buy-in to the PSPC in January the annual PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, six nights’ accommodation at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas and travel expenses.
On the first bullet, Suppe lost a cooler when he got it all in with A-A to his opponent’s K-K. A third King fell on the flop.
On the second bullet, his Jack-high flush lost an Ace flush.
“But the third time was the charm,” he said. “I just got on some pretty good runs, but at the final table it got to the point where I couldn’t catch a hand.”
It was so rough, Suppe said he resorted to playing bad hands with hopes of snagging something good. He didn’t want to let the shot at a Platinum Pass slip by without giving it a real shot at the final table.
After a break, Suppe called a raise with 7-3. He caught two pair and busted a player with pocket Aces.
“He got up screaming and throwing a fit,” he said. “I was card dead, so I figured I’d open my range a bit and just go for it.”
The strategy of playing any two cards continued.
A hand with 7-4 offsuit also sticks out. With action on him from the big blind, Suppe put in a nice raise and caught an open-end straight draw on the flop.
Another player moved all in and Suppe called, catching a straight on the river. It was just that kind of night – even with some inferior hands, things seemed to go his way.
After a four-way deal, Suppe took home $2,900 and then went on to win the Platinum Pass as well.
Much bigger cash and the purchase of that dream watch are the next goals.
Big Bahamas plans
It will be a return stop to the Atlantis for Suppe, who first visited the resort a few years ago during a stop on a Caribbean cruise. He’s got some definite plans for the trip.
The Atlantis offers a fantastic snorkeling experience in its Ruins of Atlantis feature, which features “sunken ruins and artifacts of the lost city of Atlantis.”
On his previous trip, the exhibit was unavailable and he’s now hoping to check it off his bucket list.
In the 2.7-million gallon marine exhibit, visitors explore alongside sharks, spotted rays and thousands of tropical fish and marine animals including jacks, snappers and spiny lobster.
“It goes through the whole perimeter of the casino,” he said. “It is so awesome.”
Suppe’s wife, Holly, and two friends will be making the trip as well. They have plans for other excursions including a trip to feed sharks. They love the outdoors and enjoy traveling in the Caribbean with snorkeling a regular part of that.
Holly was certainly thrilled with his Platinum Pass win.
“No [email protected]#%ing way!” Suppe’s wife texted him afterward. “Good job, honey! You’re amazing!”
After his win, friends from across the casino ran over to congratulate Suppe on his accomplishment – and Holly went to work.
“My wife started planning the trip instantly and almost had the plane tickets already booked,” he said. “I said, ‘Well, I’ve got to get my boss to OK the vacation first.’ And then when I told my friend, he said, ‘Man we’re there. That would be so awesome to watch you win.’”
Back in the game
Card games were a big part of the Suppe household growing up. Cribbage was particularly popular, but the family eventually gravitated toward US poker.
When he got older, Suppe continued playing tournaments, some in underground rooms. But after going through a divorce and becoming a single dad, he put poker on the back burner for a while.
Beyond poker and collecting fine watches, Suppe also likes to draw and fish.
After leaving the game behind for nine years, he recently began playing again. He’ll head to the Bahamas for the Players Championship in two months.
As the tournament approaches, Suppe has plans to continue playing some small tournaments to work on his game. Either way, playing in such a major tournament will be a once in a lifetime experience.
“I think it’s really cool,” he said. “Can you imagine, for $86 you’ve now got a shot at millions. That’s everybody’s dream come true.”