A Lawyer Interested In Upping the Ante

Is he poker-faced in the courtroom too? Tom Goldstein at the Palm.
Is he poker-faced in the courtroom too? Tom Goldstein at the Palm. (Jati Lindsay - )
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By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Thursday, October 16, 2008

High-powered Washington lawyer by day, high-roller poker maniac . . . when he can squeeze it in.

"I have a few day jobs," said Tom Goldstein, partner at Akin Gump and one of the country's experts on the Supreme Court. At just 38 years old, he's already argued in front of the justices 18 times, teaches at Harvard and Stanford law schools and writes the influential Scotusblog, a must-read for court coverage. Of course, he's on every "Top 40 Under 40" list of legal eagles -- earlier this year, Sony Pictures Television bought the rights to his life story; the project is in development.

But he's just as formidable at the poker table. "I was one of those people who just got caught up watching poker on ESPN," said Goldstein, who's been playing Texas Hold 'Em for five years. The husband and father of two is now a regular at top-dollar local games, often next to Rhett Butler, the Rockville pro who won $3,216,182 at the 2006 World Series of Poker Main Event.

Goldstein dominated a charity tournament Tuesday at the Palm, then donated the $2,240 first prize back to "Dress for Success," a program that provides professional clothing to low-income women reentering the workforce. In April, he beat 130 players to win a seat to the 2008 World Series in Las Vegas, where he lasted just two days. But during a break from the tournament, the soft-spoken litigator made a name for himself at an 18-hour cash game at the Bellagio: Goldstein started with a $12,000 stack of chips and built it to more than $100,000, winning and losing hands with more than $70,000 in the pot.

So, planning to join Antonin Scalia's poker game anytime soon? "I stay away from judges and justices," Goldstein told us yesterday. Probably a wise move.

Former First Lady Is Hospitalized After Fall

Nancy Reagan checked into a Los Angeles hospital this week with a broken pelvis and is expected to spend several days there.

The former first lady, 87, fell last week after getting up in the middle of the night at her Bel Air home. She didn't seek treatment then but went in Monday after her pain failed to subside. That's when doctors diagnosed a fracture. Her rep told reporters yesterday that she'll just need physical therapy, not surgery.

It's the second hospital stay this year for Ronald Reagan's widow, who also was treated for a fall in February that did not cause a fracture. In a D.C. visit last month to present a Reagan Freedom Award to Natan Sharansky, the always-slender fashion plate appeared fragile and did not take the stage.

How serious an injury? Katalin Roth, director of the geriatrics program at George Washington University Medical Center, said it doesn't take a very serious trauma for an elderly person with weak bones to suffer a fracture. Roth was surprised that Reagan had been admitted. "Generally the treatment for a pelvis fracture is to walk on it. . . . The worst thing for an elderly person is bed rest," she said. "Usually you treat the pain and keep her moving."


· The mystery illness that caused Janet Jackson to cancel several concerts this month? Migraines that created the sensation of vertigo, according to her rep. Yuck. She resumed her tour here at Verizon Center last night; look for J. Freedom du Lac's review tomorrow.

· Former GOP operative Allen Raymond did three months in prison and lost his political career for conspiring to shut down a Democratic phone bank in New Hampshire on Election Day 2002 -- but happy ending for the Bethesda man! Variety reports that his memoir "How to Rig an Election" will be turned into a movie by "Shattered Glass" director Billy Ray.

HEY, ISN'T THAT . . . ?

· Scott McClellan ducking into an advance screening of "W." in Silver Spring on Tuesday -- and darned if he didn't seem to be the only administration figure there. The bridge-burning former press secretary told a colleague he's reviewing Oliver Stone's Bush biopic for the new Daily Beast Web site.

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