Wanna chop? Not if you’re playing Mr. Burner

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It started with a $60 buy-in March 8 at Albuquerque Hard Rock poker room and ended June 21 with $12,500 in the pocket of Mitchell Burner. One of just two Albuquerque players to win the Tournament of Champions, which qualified them to attend the World Series of Poker, Burner elected to take the money instead of a chance at further glory. Since $12,500 is life-changing money for most of us, he made it known from the beginning he wouldn’t be interested in chopping the pot.

After a six-hour grind, two of the original 27 remained. In the pivotal hand, Q-10 earned him most of the chips, and Q-2 allowed him to take the rest. His opponent went all-in after the flop, but Burner had paired his deuce and had an outside flush draw. He was sitting on roughly 350K chips, and the call was only 70K.

He has played poker regularly for only three years, and a year of that was online. Working as a supervisor for the Groundskeeper, a commercial landscape company, his job recently took him and his crew to Holloman Air Force Base, about 50 miles from Inn of the Mountain Gods. That poker room is where I met Mitch and handed over all my chips during a Splash Tournament.

His wife happens to be popular Albuquerque KOB Ch. 4 morning news anchor, Heather Mills. They’ve been a couple for more than 11 years, during which her career has taken them from San Diego to Wichita Falls to Albuquerque. Burner didn’t say so, but it has to feel pretty good to share the spotlight with his talented wife, at least within the poker world. But if you ever have the pleasure of meeting this friendly guy in a hold’em game, don’t expect him to chop.

— Mary Bradley is Ante Up’s New Mexico Ambassador. Email her at anteupmary@gmail.com.