Tom Taylor from Bakersfield, Calif., took down the Central Coast Fall Classic at Chumash Casino on Nov. 9 to earned $20,280.
Taylor, 69, has been playing poker for about 30 years and plays in a tournament at least once a week. This is the largest tournament of his career.
The $75K guarantee event drew 507 players with a $200 buy-in ($180 if they registered early). Taylor made it through 12 hours of play and won a heads-up showdown with Jorge Vera, 25, of Santa Barbara to win the tournament, which was an 18-and-older event.
“I guess I showed those young guys that I can still do it,” Taylor said. “It was tough. I was hanging on by the skin of my teeth there for a while, and those young guys will run you over if you let them. I was just about down and out. I had to start shoving all-in (with about 100 players remaining). And I was down again at the final table, but I was able to hit a couple of big hands, double-up a few times and take the lead.”
Before the players made the money, Taylor was down to his last round of blinds. He came back from that deficit to arrive at the final table short-stacked. But he was able to take out a few players to double-up and give him an overwhelming chip lead when he and Vera got heads-up. Taylor said, “You have to get lucky, but also play it right when you do.”
On the last hand, Taylor shoved all-in with A-K and Vera called with A-6.
“Second place is fine with me because I wasn’t even supposed to be here today,” said Vera, who took home $10,140. “Today’s my brother-in-law’s birthday party, and I was waiting on a call from my sister, who needed a ride to go set up for the party. She finally called and said she didn’t need a ride, so here I am playing for the championship.”
Joining Taylor and Vera at the final table were (in order of finish) Tim Selby of Paso Robles, Joshua Mondragon of Salinas, Dana Chase of Santa Barbara, Robert Perry of Buellton, Logan Nettles of Los Olivos, Nick Bonnefoi of Simi Valley, Ryan Lanse of Ventura and John Jaffe of San Luis Obispo. Third through 10th place paid between $5,070 and $1,216.
“It’s one of the biggest events we do each year, which means it’s a great opportunity to see all of our regular players and a lot of new faces in one room for one great tournament,” said Ian Adams, poker manager at the Chumash Casino Resort. “It’s our largest guaranteed prize pool of the year.”
— Email Kittie Aleman at email@example.com.