EVENT #40: $1,000 buy-in Seniors Championship (No-Limit Hold’em)
PRIZE POOL: $3,773,700
FIRST PLACE PRIZE: $613,466
PLACES PAID: 423
Travis Baker Wins 2015 Seniors Poker Championship
Oklahoma Amateur Player Tops Field of 4,193 Players, Collects First WSOP Gold Bracelet
Baker’s WSOP Cash Worth $613,466
Latest Champion Blisters through Final Table in Quick Time
Runner Up Carl Torelli Posts 14th-Place Finish in 2014 and 2nd-Place Finish in 2015
MEET THE LATEST WSOP GOLD BRACELET CHAMPION
Name: Travis Baker
Birthplace: Tulsa, OK (USA)
Current Residence: Enid, OK (US)
Marital Status: Single
Profession: Construction Manager
Number of WSOP Cashes: 1
Number of WSOP Final Table Appearances: 1
Number of WSOP Gold Bracelet Victories: 1
Best Previous WSOP Finish: None
Total WSOP Earnings: $613,466
Personal Facts: This was Baker’s first time to cash at the WSOP and only the second event he’s entered
[Note: All statistics above include the results of this tournament]
If you blinked, you might have missed it.
Travis Baker, a 50-year-old construction manager from Tulsa, OK is the latest winner at the 2015 World Series of Poker.
Baker topped a massive field of 4,193 players in the annual Seniors Championship ($1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em) event. He blistered a final table in less than five hours, winning one of the quickest final sessions when play got down to 5 players. So dominant was Baker’s last day performance that he wiped out his last four challengers in just 35 minutes.
“I’m so overwhelmed right now,” Baker said afterward. For me this is gratifying and satisfying. It’s an exclamation point.”
Baker’s victory wasn’t so much a shock, but the manner in which he won and the speed by which he brushed everyone aside on the third and final day left everyone scrambling to play catch up. Media covering the event, and even the live stream announcers were caught trying to speak and type fast enough, filling in the blanks of those who were eliminated.
Baker enjoyed the tournament of a lifetime, which was played Friday through Monday at the Rio in Las Vegas. It almost looked too easy. Baker ranked 11th in chips after Day One. He was 10th in chips after Day Two. He entered the final table with the chip lead, lost two big hands, and then rebounded in a flurry that left the ESPN Main Stage dark hours before most events even get started.
“I always felt comfortable while playing, Baker said. “I never got nervous or anything. It was partly because everything went my way. Even after I had a few beats (early at the final table), I stayed patient and that kept me going.”
Amazingly, this was Baker’s first time ever to cash in a WSOP event. It’s only the second event he’d entered a tourney here in Las Vegas, after a mostly forgetful event and non-cash way back in 2007.
“I’m just a regular weekend tournament player from Oklahoma,” Baker said. “I saw Moneymaker win in 2003 and since then, I’ve been playing mostly small tournaments around, like in Choctaw and Hard Rock Tulsa. But I’ve never experienced anything like this.”
From the $3,773,700 prize pool, Baker’s share of the money came to $613,466. “I have no idea what I’m going to do with the money,” Baker said, still in a state of shock and disbelief. “I haven’t even had time to think about that yet.”
The Seniors Championship remains one of the annual classic’s most popular events. It’s also been its fastest-growing over the past five years. This marks the third consecutive year this event has drawn more than 4,000 entries.
As for his immediate and future plans, Baker didn’t seem much interested in celebrating.
“I’m an old man, now,” Baker said. “I think I’m going to go take a nap.”
Among the more notable players who made the final table, gold bracelet winner and former November Niner (2012) Steve Gee was there, finishing in 8th place. Carl Torelli, a former Wall Street investor, now retired and living in nearby Pahrump, NV, finished as the runner up. Quite impressive was the fact Torelli played in this event for the first time last year, and finished 14th. That’s a 2nd and a 14th place showing back-to-back in huge 4,000-player fields.
Following Baker’s finish in the top spot, the descending order of results and payouts was as follows:
Second Place -- Carl Torelli (Pahrump, NV) -- $378,766
Third Place – Jim Hopperstead (Cookeville, TN) -- $274,989
Fourth Place -- Michael Smith (union, KY) -- $202,157
Fifth Place -- Justin Tucker (Flushing, NY) -- $149,929
Sixth Place -- Lee Budin (New Albany, OH) -- $112,154
Seventh Place -- Stephen Nussrallah (Alpharetta, GA) -- $84,644
Eighth Place -- Steve Gee (Sacramento, CA) -- $64,417
Ninth Place -- Shane Goldsmith (Newton, KS) -- $49,435
OTHER IN-THE-MONEY FINISHERS:
Aside from the final table finishers, other gold bracelet winning players who cashed included – Dao Bac (86th), T.J. Cloutier (126th), and Ted Forrest (347th).
Dr. Bruce Van Horn, who was runner up to Huck Seed in the 1996 Main Event Championship, finished in 108th place.
Glenn Galfond, father of this year’s gold bracelet winner Phil Galfond, cashed for the second time in the Seniors, taking 173rd.
Hal Lubarksy, who is legally blind, cashed in this event, finishing 207th.
Allyn Jaffrey-Shulman, who won this event in 2012, cashed in 372nd place.
The Seniors Poker Championship is open to players age 50 and up. This year for the first time, there’s also a “Super Seniors” event, which is open to players 65 and up.
Average age of participants was 60 years. There were 3,930 men and 262 women who entered. The oldest player was age 92. There were 40 different countries represented.
A tournament similar to the Seniors World Poker Championship was first played in 1993. It was spread at various locations in California and Nevada during the first eight years of its existence. Then, in 2001 an exclusive event for seniors was added to the WSOP schedule. Jay Heimowitz won the first official WSOP Seniors championship gold bracelet.
A woman has won the Seniors Championship just twice. That took place in 2006 and 2012 when Clare Miller and Allyn Jaffrey-Shulman were the winners, respectively.
The oldest winner was Paul McKinney, who was 80-years-old when he won the Seniors Championship in 2005. McKinney, from West Virginia, made a famous quip following his victory. He shared his secret for success by saying, "I like moonshine whisky, big cigars, and young women."
The seniors’ event is a No-Limit Hold’em tournament. This has been the game since inception at the WSOP in 2001. The buy-in has always been $1,000.
This year’s tournament awarded the famous “Golden Eagle” trophy, which is engraved with the winner’s name(s). The trophy is a keepsake that is passed forward from champion to champion, similar to the tradition of the Stanley Cup in the National Hockey League.
(Note: Will appear 48 hours after event concludes)