05/31/2004 12:00AM

Funny glasses, serious dough


After winning the World Series of Poker on Friday night, Greg "Fossilman" Raymer didn't look in the ESPN cameras and say, "I'm going to Disney World."

Instead, he talked about how he had already been to Disney World two years ago. Killing time while his wife and daughter were shopping, he bought some reptile-eye sunglasses at the Tower of Terror gift shop. He uses the glasses when staring down opponents, which he did often in outlasting the rest of a record field of 2,576 and earning the $5 million first prize.

Raymer entered the final table on Friday with $8.2 million of the total $25.76 million in chips. He used his chip advantage to systematically beat down weaker opponents. He stared them down with his glasses, and his big, hulking frame. He was the Tower of Terror.

"People do not like to look at these," Raymer said. "It's easy to have a pronounced staredown when you don't blink."

Raymer is full of gimmicks - his nickname comes from his penchant to collect antique fossils and use them to hold his cards, and he wears beads around his neck like those found at Mardi Gras. His motto is, "I only appear to be wacko - in reality, I'm much worse."

But despite his eccentricities, he is a serious poker player. A 39-year-old corporate patent attorney in Stonington, Conn., he is a regular at the Foxwoods Casino poker rooms and travels the country for big events. He also plays online, which is how he earned his seat in the $10,000 buy-in World Series of Poker championship a week before the start of the event. Raymer put up a $150 entry fee at pokerstars.com in a shooter tournament - 81 people play at nine tables of nine, with the survivors facing off at the final table for the $10,000 WSOP entry fee. But even if he hadn't earned a seat, he was planning to put up the $10,000 in cash to play.

Raymer said that with such a large field, he was obviously lucky to win.

"Luck is something you see in the rearview mirror," he said. "That's not a tangible thing while you're playing. You just have to play the cards you're dealt."

As for leading the final table wire to wire, Raymer said, "From playing so much, I'm comfortable with a chip lead. You have to know when to push and when to sit back. As soon as they get comfortable, you push again."

The tournament is contested using Texas no-limit hold 'em, in which all players are dealt two cards and then share five community cards to make the best poker hand. The event's final showdown came in the seventh hand in heads-up play, with Raymer facing David Williams of Dallas. The "flop" - the first three face-up community cards that are dealt - was 4-2-5. The next card was a 2, and then another 2.

Raymer held a pair of 8's, which gave him a full house of three 2's and two 8's. Williams also had a full house, but his pair was 4's, as he held an ace and a 4.

Williams, who was trying to become the youngest WSOP champ in history at age 24, settled for the second-place prize of $3.5 million - not bad for a student at Southern Methodist University.

Williams also made the field through a shooter tourney at pokerstars.com. For trivia buffs, Pokerstars was also where last year's champion, Chris Moneymaker, qualified, and this year the website sent 316 players, with four making the final table.

Josh Arieh of Atlanta was third and collected $2.5 million. Dan Harrington, the 1995 world champion and the third-place finisher last year, won $1.5 million. Glenn Hughes of Scottsdale, Ariz., finished fifth, earning $1.1 million.

Sports book notes

Buddy Rice and Jimmie Johnson were the pole sitters in the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600, respectively. They were sitting even prettier after posting wins on an auto-racing doubleheader Sunday - and so were the bettors who backed them.

"The public always bets the pole sitter," said Micah Roberts, auto-racing oddsmaker for the Station Casinos. "Rarely does the pole sitter win, but it's fresh in people's mind because they rarely talk about who qualified second or third, and so on. Bettors did very well."

That was especially true Sunday as Rice, who opened at 20-1 to win the Indianapolis 500, was bet all the way down to 8-1. Johnson had been one of the co-favorites at 8-1 in the NASCAR race and was pounded down to 9-2.

With the Indianapolis 500 shortened by rain to 180 laps (instead of the scheduled 200), the question comes up about which wagers are valid. Basically, all of the driver results to win the race or in matchups are considered action. Props such as the number of lap leaders or the number of drivers on the lead lap are considered no-action and are refunded regardless of which side you bet.

Horse racing bits

With Hollywood Park running on Memorial Day and taking Wednesday off, the free contests at the Coast Casinos and Station Casinos will be taking Wednesday off, too.

When the Coasts resume on Thursday, the "Pick 5 Contest" will have a carryover of $13,000 for anyone going 5 for 5 on the first five races at Hollywood. The jackpot grows by $1,000 each day it is not hit. There is also $1,500 in daily prizes for the player compiling the most contest points.

Coast has already announced that as a kickoff to Belmont weekend, it is doubling the prize fund on Friday, so there will be $3,000 in daily prizes and a 5-for-5 jackpot of $2,000, or potentially $15,000 if no one hits it Thursday.

Stations resumes the "Free Match Play Challenge" on Friday, with $2,000 in the daily prize pool and a $750 bonus for a perfect card.