David Kluchman doesn’t don a hoodie and sunglasses at the table, and to the casual observer he doesn’t resemble the stereotypical poker pro, but after the Lexington, Massachusetts resident took down the World Series of Poker Circuit Main Event at Foxwoods Resort on Sunday, perhaps that perception will change.
After all, the $124,370 prize he pocketed isn't even the largest score of his career on the felt – that came back in 2012 in none other than the WSOP Main Event, where Kluchman made a deep run en route to a 63rd place finish. With his win here at Foxwoods, Kluchman pushed his recorded live earnings to more than $387,000, which isn’t bad for a man who describes his profession as “part-time poker player and full-time Dad.”
Kluchman topped a field of 376 entries to claim his first WSOP Circuit ring, as well as a coveted berth in the season-ending National Championship event in July, but his rise through the ranks was nearly halted a few levels into the first starting flight.
“I didn’t mind spending two bullets,” Kluchman said in the moments after his victory. “Things went badly in the first one, and I flamed out pretty early, but I jumped back into Day 1A in the third or fourth level.”
And he’s glad he did, because after navigating his way to Day 2, Kluchman went on to tear through a field sprinkled with seasoned Circuit grinders and professionals like Greg Himmelbrand (5th place), Will Failla (10th place), Christopher Csik (25th place), and Ryan Eriquezzo (31st place). By the time Day 2 ended Kluchman had amassed a huge chip lead over his nine remaining opponents, topping the 2 million chip plateau while only one other player had even crossed the 1 million mark. As Kluchman explains, it was a pivotal confrontation with Linsford Geddes late on the second day of play that propelled him to the eventual win – along with a little old fashioned run good.
“The key hand came on Day 2 when I rivered the full house against a flush,” Kluchman remembered. “But I had some luck too. I was all in and covered while behind twice during the tournament. Ran queens into aces, and I knew he had them from how he acted, but I had already committed myself and had to call. I told him ‘I know you have aces, but I’m calling, I just can’t fold… but I’m hitting the queen of hearts anyway.’”
Sure enough, the arrived right in the window for Kluchman, and it was smooth sailing from there.
During Day 3’s final table action Kluchman put on a clinic in selective aggression, picking his spots wisely and playing the big stack bully role to perfection. He knocked David Grandieri out in 7th place when his held over , before dispatching Seunghwan Lee in 6th place with the very same hand. Another pocket pair for Kluchman sent a short-stacked Greg Himmelbrand to the rail in 5th place, as Kluchman’s faded the world against Himmelbrand’s on a board. Spencer Champlin was the next to bow out, and Kluchman did the deed once again, outkicking Champlin’s with on the run out. The heater continued and Kluchman knocked out a player known only as “Blackjack” in 3rd place, flopping the wheel straight to best “Blackjack” and his pocket eights. Carrying a huge chip lead into heads-up play, Kluchman finished off the win by chipping Michael Thibeau down with a series of small wins, before winning a flip with pocket threes against ace-queen.
Kluchman’s passion for poker was evident during his winner’s interview, and it turns out he takes the game quite seriously, studying the mathematical components of the game with a few friends in high places.
“I grew up playing seven-card stud and five-card draw for pennies really,” Kluchman said. “Played a little bit online in the early 2000’s, but not much. Then I joined a home game and learned from some really excellent people. Can’t disclose any names, but they were members of the MIT blackjack team, so very mathematical types.”
Kluchman also attributed his poker acumen to participating in the Big August Rec.Gambling Excursion (BARGE), a community of like-minded poker players who convened online to discuss game theory, while also meeting annually in Las Vegas for an instructional convention.
“Those are people who really helped my poker development,” Kluchman said. “They started hosting games in 2008 or 2009, and it was a group of us who had sort of a learning game, lots of tournaments and cash games with the focus more on improving than competing.”
Kluchman already had plans to attend this year’s WSOP festivities, having won a satellite to earn a seat into the Main Event, but he says the Foxwoods score may prompt him to play an expanded schedule. In the meantime, Kluchman will head home to his family to celebrate his accomplishment.
“Can’t wait to get back to my kids, Caleb, Alex, and Collin,” Kluchman said. “So thankful for their support, as well as my wife Chris. She’s the best poker wife ever, so we call her B-P-W.”