Utilities employee wins World Series of Poker

Thu, Aug 26, 2010


Suppose you’re at the final table in the World Series of Poker. Play has gone on for hours, and it’s just you and another guy at the table. The pots aren’t six figures, or seven figures – they’re eight figures.

You’re holding your own, and you see that your opponent is tired and distracted. His concentration is lagging. His stack of chips is much larger than yours. You decide to bluff on the next hand.

The bets mount. You’re confident, reasonable, relaxed, cheerful. He’s sweating and uncomfortable. You have nothing – a pair of deuces. You keep betting. He’s thinking four of a kind – and your bluff works!

He throws in his hand. He was holding three aces!!

Your pile of chips is suddenly the highest. You take the next few hands and, against all odds, you win!

Sound like a poker player’s fantasy? It is – and that’s exactly what we saw when CSU’s John Fredell out-negotiated the representatives of the Bureau of Reclamation yesterday after days, weeks, and months of discussions over the price that CSU would pay to use the Pueblo Reservoir and other BuRec facilities to move and store SDS water.

BuRec held all the cards. The Bureau controls Pueblo Reservoir and other facilities in the Fry-Ark project, and they could have charged whatever they pleased. Their initial offer of $350 million was greeted with outrage and dismay by CSU, who knew that utility ratepayers would be stuck with yet another water rate increase.

Enter Fredell. He didn’t even have a pair of deuces – all he could do was argue for fairness and equity. He managed to persuade BuRec to make a deal for 80 percent less than their initial offer.

That’s like a gambler persuading the casino bosses in Las Vegas to reset the odds on the $500 slots so that he can win back what he’s already lost.

If Fredell made a deal like this for a private sector employer, he could expect a seven-figure bonus. Too bad for him – he’ll get a pat on the back from Jerry Forte instead.

And that’s like winning the World Series of Poker and not collecting the cash.

Congrats and thanks, John … and remind me never to play poker with you!

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