Sport: The High Rollers

The steak and drinks were on the house. The sated crowd in the main ballroom of Las Vegas' Desert Inn pushed heavily back from the tables and lit up complimentary cigars. Then, to a man, they reached for their checkbooks. These were no ordinary freeloaders; these were fast-money boys, big gamblers, high rollers. They were assembled to buy shares of the pot in the Desert Inn's fourth annual Tournament of Champions.

For the golfers themselves, the Tournament of Champions is the second-richest competition in the U.S. ($37,500 in prizes).* For gamblers, professional and amateur,...

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