It may have taken an extra day of play, but once the cards were in the air for the unscheduled finale to the $500 Casino Employees Event, it took Roland Reparejo just five minutes to lock up the first bracelet of the summer and an $82,835 payday.
The California chef turned poker dealer prevailed at a final table which saw numerous double ups and reversals of fortune, as nearly every player at the table saw their chip stack fluctuate from the top to the bottom of the counts.
"This is incredible to win," a jubilant Reparejo said afterward. "I've been coming here for years, usually to play in the Employee's event and the Seniors, too. I can't believe I won this. It's a dream to me."
Reparejo, who is 55 and now semi-retired, was born in the Philippines. He arrived in the U.S. at age 19 and worked for more than three decades as a chef. He started working in the kitchen at various restaurants, attended culinary school, and eventually worked his way up to an executive chef position. Reparejo was employed at various country clubs in the Palm Springs area, until leaving his job a few years ago to enjoy life more and play poker in his spare time. He also took a job working as a poker dealer, because as he says, "I enjoy the people and the game so much."
Looking back on a great life filled with lots of memories, the winner reflected on his years working as a chef, including many 16-hour days. When asked to compare his long career with the experience of winning his first gold bracelet, Reparejo made an interesting observation. "I used to work many long hours," he said. "It really wore me out, but this for me was even tougher. That's why I feel so good about winning it."
The tournament extended into an unscheduled third day of play due to a highly-competitive final table played the previous day, which left just two players -- Reparejo and the player who had largely dominated the event up until that point, Corey Emery.
Emery made a deep run in the Main Event in 2010, but came up short of the November Nine in 33rd.While this finish does not quite match his $250,000 payday in that tournament, Emery still collects an impressive $51,037 for the runner-up showing.
The final table consisted of primarily employees from California and right here in Las Vegas. Impressively, there were two dealers from the same California casino, Player's Club. Both Emery and fifth place finisher John Taylor call the casino home and they shared a rail of friends cheering for them.
This year’s Casino Employee’s event drew 876 entries and generated a prize pool of $394,200. The top 90 finishers made the money and some of the notables to cash included writer Lee Davy (86th), WSOP.com employee Danielle Barille (78th), poker floor person Andy Rich (47th), and PokerNews writer Mo Nuwwarah (19th).This is the 18th year the Casino Employees Event has graced the WSOP schedule. It originated in 1983, ran through 1985, and became a permanent fixture on the schedule in 2000.Here are the final table results for the $500 Casino Employees Event:1st: Roland Reparejo - $82,8352nd: Corey Emery - $51,0373rd: Charles Nguyen - $33,0734th: Olivier Doremus - $24,2035th: John Taylor - $17,9756th: Brian Wong - $13,5287th: Marcin Sobczak - $10,3088th: David Luttbeg - $7,9479th: Kevin Chiem - $6,192