Damn! I missed getting on the Forbes 400 list of the richest people in the world again. Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) bridge playing Bill Gates beat me out once more, coming in at $50 billion, down $7 billion from last year. He was followed by his bridge partner, Berkshire Hathaway’s (BRK/A) Omaha Oracle, Warren Buffet, at $40 billion, and Oracle’s (NYSE:ORCL), Larry Ellison, at $27 billion, who miraculously saw no change in his net worth. Of the three, Bill’s MSFT shares were far and away the best performer, soaring some 82% from the $14.50 low to $26.50, its cash mountain intact and Yahoo free. The total for the 400 plunged by a staggering $300 billion, from $1.57 trillion to $1.27 trillion. Thanks to the market meltdown, the price of admission to the exclusive club has cratered from $1.3 billion to a only $950 million, mere pennies when you think about it. The biggest gainer was Beal Bank’s Andy Beal of Dallas, the noted high stakes poker player who astutely hoovered up distressed assets when everyone else was puking them out. Now there’s a man after my own heart. What’s the secret to becoming an American billionaire? Have a rich dad. Four out of the top ten were the children of Walmart’s (NYSE:WMT) Sam Walton. Oh well. There’s always next year. Since I can’t be reborn as a Walmart offspring, I guess I’ll just have to work harder.