James Moore is the newest member of poker’s gold bracelet club.
The medical physician and radiologist from New Hope, Pennsylvania won the $1,000 buy-in Super Seniors No-Limit Hold’em Championship, which was played over three days and nights and just concluded at the Rio in Las Vegas. Moore lives about five miles from Washington Crossing, which is where George Washington famously crossed the Delaware River during the American Revolution.
Mr. Moore fought a tough battle of his own and crossed a threshold of a different sort. He collected $230,626 in prize money, making this the biggest win of his career. This marked Mr. Moore’s second time to cash at the series, after finishing in 149th place in the Seniors No-Limit Hold’em Championship two years ago.
"This is an unbelievable thrill for me,” Mr. Moore said afterward, visibly and emotionally moved by his feat. “I had absolutely no expectations. It's every poker player’s dream – and mine just came true.”
This relatively new tournament attraction, now in its second year, came as an offshoot of the Seniors World Championship -- open to players 50 years and older. The caveat of the “Super Seniors” is that players must be 65 and up. The age bracket restrictions didn’t dissuade another large field from showing up as 1,476 silver seniors flooded into the 2016 World Series of Poker with great enthusiasm.
“I was feeling really good about this tournament and my chances entering Day Three,” Mr. Moore said when asked about his journey to victory. “I had lost a lot of my stack on Day Two. But today I felt good. Things seemed to work better for me. It wasn’t a cake walk. But things worked out.”
Mr. Moore won his well-deserved victory by coming out on top at a final table which included players with plenty of playing experience. The final nine also included one former gold bracelet winner who was aiming for what would have been his second WSOP win – Fred Berger, from New Orleans, who ended up finishing in sixth place.
The ultimate moment of triumph came after a see-saw heads-up battle. Mr. Moore temporarily lost the chip lead and was down by a 3 to 1 margin, before storming back into the chip lead in the last 20 minutes of action. With blinds high enough to put either player all in at just about any instant, he scooped the final pot of the tournament against Charles Barker who finished as the runner up. Mr. Barker, a 74-year-old business owner from Dallas, received $142,461 as his payout and a hearty handshake from the new champion.
This big turnout created a prize pool totaling $1,328,400. The top 222 finishers collected prize money.
“There’s no question this is a terrific experience for those who play in it,” Mr. Moore said about the special significance of an event open to elder players. “The men and women are just so kind. It’s not just a poker experience. It’s a social experience beyond compare.”
Aside from the winner, here’s a brief report of the other top finishers who made the final table:
Second Place: Charles Barker, from Richardson, TX finished as the runner up. He is a 75-year-old business owner, who happens to be from the same hometown as poker legend T.J. Cloutier. This was Barker’s ninth time to cash at the series. He pocketed $142,461.
Third Place: Steven Krupnick, from Miami Beach, FL is a sailor. He braved a few waves in this tournament and landed on the beach with a $102,052 payout.
Fourth Place: Charles Rinn, from Langruth, MB (Canada) cashed for the first time ever in a WSOP event with this fourth-place finish, which was worth $73,943.
Fifth Place: Eugene Spinner, from Crested Butte, CO can now brag he’s a perfect 2 of 2 in cashes in the Super Seniors. He took 114th place last year and followed that up with a fifth-place showing here, which paid $54,197.
Sixth Place: Fred Berger was the WSOP veteran of the bunch, having won both a WSOP gold bracelet and a WSOP Circuit gold ring in his past glory. The New Orleans businessman who goes back more than four decades in the game raked in $40,191 for this deep run, which pushes him close to $700,000 in career WSOP earnings.
Seventh Place: Arthur Loring, from Palm Beach, FL now has four cashes in WSOP events, including this first final table appearance. He also finished in-the-money in the 2004 WSOP. Loring was paid out $30,159.
Eighth Place: James Parrot, from Huntington Beach, CA ruffled his feathers and colored up for a $22,902 payout. This was his first time ever to cash at the WSOP.
Ninth Place: Vern Soeldner, from Eau Claire, WI cashed for the first time in a WSOP event. His debut showing paid $17,604.
This was the 31st official event on this year’s schedule. This leaves 38 gold bracelet events still to go at the 2016 World Series of Poker.