Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter. - Mark Twain
Anyone who believes poker is entirely a young person's game hasn't been paying much attention to official results from the 2013 World Series of Poker.Several legendary figures from the past are showing they still have enough fuel and fire in the tank to make deep tournament runs, competing for gold bracelets among players who are often young enough to be the icons' grandchildren.Demonstrating that age is merely a number and not a state of mind, quite a few players who were the very best in the world during the 1970's and 1980's are showing that poker exceptionalism has no expiration date. As this year's series heads into its late stretch is about to be complete, let's take a closer look at some of the most inspiring stories from the past and present. These poker greats reveal to all of us that while winning is important, what may be even better is simply staying in the game. These legends have not only stayed in the game for a long time, they also continue to compete at the highest level.
Let's meet the 2013 WSOP MVP Legends, so far:
Artie Cobb – Four-time gold bracelet winner Artie Cobb is a living legend in Seven-Card Stud circles. He won three titles in Stud, plus another in Stud High-Low. Remarkably, he won the $1,500 buy-in Seven-Card Stud High-Low Split gold bracelet back in 1983 and thirty years later made it to the final table of the same event, ultimately finishing in eighth place. Cobb is a wonderful ambassador of the game. His trademark is wearing hand-crafted funny hats each time he makes it to a final table. Let's hope we'll be seeing many of the great Artie Cobb's hats in the future. Michael Moore – The winner of this year's $5,000 buy-in Limit Hold'em event came close to WSOP glory 18 years ago when he finished tenth in the 1995 Main Event Championship. Moore posted modest results until late last week when he finally won his first gold bracelet at age 63. When he received his prize, Moore announced to the crowd, “Look out, Phil (Hellmuth)....I'm coming after you.”Freddie Ellis – The 2009 Seven-Card Stud World Champion almost repeated his exemplary feat again this year, coming in third place in Event 23. Ellis, a successful businessman and former recording artist from New York City, could have been one of the most senior winners of all time had he won a few weeks ago at age 78. He'll have to wait until two years from now to possibly break the Johnny Moss' record (he was 80 when he won his last of nine gold bracelets).
Perry Green – No one remembers who finished second, it's said. Well, that's not really true, not when someone finishes second to poker icon Stu Ungar. Green may have finished as the runner-up in the 1981 Main Event, but prior to that he won three gold bracelets, starting in 1976. Green, a fur trader from Alaska, shows no signs of slowing down. He's cashed at least once during each of the last four years at the WSOP – including a ninth-place showing in the $1,500 buy-in Pot-Limit Omaha High-Low Split event held last week. Green also outlasted more than 6,000 players in last year's Main Event, finishing in 152nd place. Remarkably, Green looks pretty much the same as he did nearly 40 years ago when he attended his first WSOP.
Those four fellows have all made it to the final table this summer. Here are some other players who have made runs into the money that you should keep an eye on heading into the home stretch of the bracelet events: Billy Baxter – If Lowball poker had a godfather, it would be William Baxter, originally from Augusta, GA. He's won a staggering seven gold bracelets over the course of an illustrious poker career, all in various forms of Lowball. True to his legendary status, Baxter cashed again this year, in the Razz event. He was inducted in the Poker Hall of Fame in 2008. One of the least-known things about Baxter is, he never played Hold'em tournaments until 1997, when he entered the Main Event Championship. He ended up finishing 22nd. The player he backed (Stu Ungar) ended up winning the championship.T.J. Cloutier – Six-time gold bracelet winner and Poker Hall of Fame inductee (Class of 2007) Cloutier pasted two cashes this year.Jay Heimowitz – Six-time gold bracelet winner Jay Heimowitz, who made a fortune as the distributor for Anheuser-Bush (beer) in New York City, cashed this year in one event.Berry Johnston – Five-time gold bracelet winner and Poker Hall of Fame inductee (Class of 2003) Berry Johnson cashed once. He holds the record for cashes the most consecutive year at the WSOP, at 28 years (1982 through 2010).David Sklansky – Three-time gold bracelet winner David Sklansky posted four cashes at this series. He's arguably the greatest poker theorist of all time who's ideas and writings revolutionized the game on many fronts.Barbara Enright – Proving that the list of poker legends is not just a good-old-boys network, three-time gold bracelet winner and Poker Hall of Fame inductee (Class of 2007) Barbara Enright cashed once, so far.Chris Bjorin – No senior player is competing at as high a level in recent years as Swedish-born Londoner, Chris Bjorin. He's already posted two cashes in 2013. Bjorin also cashed in four straight Main Event Championships between 2008-2011. He also final tabled the Main Event at WSOP Europe in 2009.With slightly more than three weeks still remaining in this year's summer series, there remains a lot of poker still to be played, including more than 20 more gold bracelets. One thing is for sure – while the young stars continue to amaze us, don't count out the old timers just yet.