Your money is often what "stays in Las Vegas" when you leave the desert resort in Nevada.
However, George Whittier was able to take $5,000 home to East Amherst with him last month after the Thanksgiving Weekend. He pocketed that for his second-place finish in the Classified Classic, one of three High Roller tournaments in the Senior Thanksgiving Classic Holiday at Sam's Town Lanes.
Whittier, 72, a left-hander, earned second-place money in the tournament after losing to 55-year-old Clark Poelzer of Arden Hills, Minn., in the championship match, 239-193.
Former band director and coordinator of music for Clarence Schools before he retired in 1991, Whittier started going to Las Vegas for the High Roller tournaments in 1997.
"I have a good friend from Lockport, Don Voss, and he suggested that I go out there," Whittier said. "Since 1997 I've bowled in 28 tournaments there and made the finals 21 times. I've finished in the top eight once, but this was my best finish. Over the years, I've won $24,000 there."
Whittier has an athletic background, but he did not start bowling seriously until he was 56. He is an athletics Hall of Fame member at the Batavia High School and Fredonia State. A 1955 graduate of Fredonia, Whittier played three sports there -- basketball, baseball and golf. Until he was in his 60s, Whittier participated in the annual Fredonia Alumni-Varsity games.
"Finally, I told Greg Prechtl (former coach and now athletics director) that I was getting too old to chase those young guys around any more," Whittier said.
Not too old, however, to keep racking up good scores on the lanes.
Western New York pros on the Denny's PBA Tour will be shut out again from this week's TV finals (ESPN, Sunday, 1 p.m.) of the Beltway Classic at AMF Country Club Lanes in Baltimore.
Brad Angelo, Tom Baker and Joe Ciccone all lost their matches in the round of 32 Friday morning, despite some impressive bowling.
Angelo had the misfortune of running into local favorite Danny Wiseman of Baltimore in his match. He tried to rally after losing the first two games, winning with a 268 in the third and a 279 in the fifth. However Wiseman closed out the Lockport pro, 231-228, in Game Six.
Ciccone of Buffalo simply ran into a buzz saw in Sean Rash of Wichita, Kan. Rash's low game was 244 in sweeping Ciccone. His other scores were 300, 247 and 245.
Buffalo native Baker, who now lives in King, N.C., fell behind, 3-0, to Wes Malott then turned in a pair of 279 games before winning the sixth game (239-237) to square the match. However, the Texan turned it on in the finale for a 279-224 victory.
The first round in the Beltway was highlighted by a memorable duel between 2006 Bowler of the Year Tommy Jones and Hall of Famer Pete Weber.
Weber won the match in seven games despite the fact Jones was nearly perfect in two games (210-289, 248-227, 234-233, 223-249, 259-223, 256-290 and 234-219.
Angelo (234.79 average) qualified 19th, Baker (230.93) 25th and Ciccone (230.64) 26th. Jack Jurek of Lackawanna didn't make the cut despite averaging 220.93 for 14 games of qualifying.
>Season opens strong
For 22 years the Maryvale Holiday Kickoff Tournament at AMF Airport has been an early-season highlight to the Western New York high school season. This week 38 boys teams and 27 girls teams competed with the Tonawanda boys and the Lockport girls walking off with the team titles.
Shaun Bender of Tonawanda, who had the high series with 761 and had a 289 high game, was one of four boys who bowled games of 265 or higher. Brandon Kilijanski (West Seneca West), David Harhigh (JFK) and Zack Arth (Cleveland Hill) were the others.
Kerri Meden led the Lockport girls with a 266-748, both highs for the day. Brianna Larson of North Tonawanda and Stephanie Cape of Grand Island each bowled a 246 while Chelsea Dustin of West Seneca East had a high game of 245.
* Reigning Obenauer Masters champion Dan Patterson of West Seneca will defend his USBC Amateur Championship at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nev., on Jan. 8-11. Four berths for men and four for women for Team USA will be on the line in Reno.
* Hank Baker continues to be a dominating force in the the weekly Brunswick Senior Shootout at Transit Lanes. After 13 weeks, Baker was averaging 227.33, leading in earnings and had qualified for 11 events. Baker topped the qualifying with a 727, which included a 277 game, but he also swept through three matches, defeating Mike Slawiak, 246-211, Ray Bellet, 202-180, and Eric Maundrell, 213-182. Bowlers interested in competing in the Senior Shootout can do so by calling Transit Lanes (632-3838) and leaving a message for Gary Kinyon or Dave Miller. Members are not required to bowl the entire season.