Nothing at stake in billionaire bridge game


Associated Press

OMAHA, Neb. — Two of the world’s wealthiest men sat next to each other at a card table Saturday, both wearing scowls of concentration as they studied the cards held close to their chests.

But this was no high stakes, Las Vegas poker game. In fact, it wasn’t even a real game, just a couple of exhibition hands of bridge with nothing more at stake than the competitive natures of two men who’ve built empires from the ground up.

Microsoft Corp. founder and chairman Bill Gates and his pal, Warren Buffett, founder and chairman of investment company Berkshire Hathaway, faced off with their bridge partners before a crowd of spectators, media and friends before the start of a local bridge tournament.

In June, Forbes magazine ranked Gates the world’s richest man with $60 billion. Buffett ranked fifth with $28 billion.

"It’s my house against his house," Buffett joked on the way into the Omaha Bridge Club. But Gates, whose home and land in the Seattle suburbs are valued at nearly $110 million, wasn’t up for that wager.

"No money, no money," he said smiling, following Buffett into the southwest Omaha club.

Gates came to Omaha to play in the tournament at Buffett’s invitation. Both are self-described bridge junkies, although Gates is a relative newcomer compared to the older Buffett, who has played for years.

The experience their partners bring doesn’t hurt any, either, both noted. Gates’ plays with Bob Hamman of Dallas, the World Bridge Federation’s top-ranked player for 15 years. Buffett’s longtime partner, Sharon Osberg of San Francisco, is a two-time world champion.

The group often plays online on the Internet site, "OK bridge."

Neither man had trouble concentrating on the game Saturday, even as the crowd of over 50 people buzzed around the table and popped a succession of flashbulbs of the two men at play.

"Bridge does that for you," Buffett said. "If I were heading for the electric chair, all I’d ask is to play bridge. In fact, I’ve done that on a doctor’s table, you know, if they’re doing something unpleasant to me. I just pull out a hand and play."

Gates, who arrived in Omaha late Friday and planned to stay at Buffett’s house over the weekend, agreed.

"The only thing that’s intimidating is that your mistakes are being broadcast," Gates said, referring to a number of television cameras capturing the game.

Neither Gates nor Buffett played a perfect hand. Gates and Hamman won the first hand, before Buffett and Osberg rebounded on the second.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Marysville firefighters respond to a 12-year-old boy who fell down a well Tuesday May 30, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Photo provided by Marysville Fire District)
Marysville firefighters save boy who fell 20 feet into well

The 12-year-old child held himself up by grabbing on to a plastic pipe while firefighters worked to save him.

Highway 9 is set to be closed in both directions for a week as construction crews build a roundabout at the intersection with Vernon Road. (Washington State Department of Transportation)
Weeklong closure coming to Highway 9 section in Lake Stevens

Travelers should expect delays or find another way from Friday to Thursday between Highway 204 and Lundeen Parkway.

Students arriving off the bus get in line to score some waffles during a free pancake and waffle breakfast at Lowell Elementary School on Friday, May 26, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
800 free pancakes at Everett’s Lowell Elementary feed the masses

The annual breakfast was started to connect the community and the school, as well as to get people to interact.

Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring speaks at the groundbreaking event for the I-5/SR 529 Interchange project on Tuesday, May 23, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
$123M project starting on Highway 529 interchange, I-5 HOV lane

A reader wondered why the highway had a lane closure despite not seeing work done. Crews were waiting on the weather.

Justin Bell was convicted earlier this month of first-degree assault for a December 2017 shooting outside a Value Village in Everett. (Caleb Hutton / Herald file)
Court: Snohomish County jurors’ opaque masks didn’t taint verdict

During the pandemic, Justin Bell, 32, went on trial for a shooting. Bell claims his right to an impartial jury was violated.

Gary Fontes uprights a tree that fell over in front of The Fontes Manor — a miniature handmade bed and breakfast — on Friday, May 12, 2023, at his home near Silver Lake in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Everett’s mini-Frank Lloyd Wright builds neighborhood of extra tiny homes

A tiny lighthouse, a spooky mansion and more: Gary Fontes’ miniature world of architectural wonders is one-twelfth the size of real life.

Will Steffener
Inslee appoints Steffener as Superior Court judge

Attorney Will Steffener will replace Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Janice Ellis, who is retiring in June.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Lawsuit: Defective inhaler led to death of Mountlake Terrace man

Pharmaceutical company Perrigo recalled inhalers in September 2020. Months earlier, Antonio Fritz Sr. picked one up at a pharmacy.

Steven Eggers listens during his resentencing at Snohomish County Courthouse in Everett, Washington on Wednesday, May 31, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Life in prison reduced to 38 years for 1995 Skykomish River killing

Steven Eggers, now 46, was 19 when he murdered Blair Scott, 27. New court rulings granted him a second chance at freedom.

Most Read