Florida businessman and high-stakes regular gives first bracelet to his son

July 7, 2017 (Las Vegas, NV) - James Calderaro has been a fixture in the poker world after his deeprun in the 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event, but he broke through for his first WSOP bracelet on Friday night in the $25,000 Pot-LimitOmaha High Roller event.

He secured the largest payday of his career, winning $1,289,074 after defeating a field of 205 players, but like his first major title, he doesn't plan on keeping the hardware for himself. 

"The bracelet is amazing to me because I had the WPT championship and I gave that to my first-born son and I promised my son and my daughter that they would get the next one," said Calderaro. "So, my second son got the bracelet, so now he's got that. But now, I have a granddaughter, so I got to get two more. So I can't quit."

With his 22-year-old son Anthony in the crowd throughout the final table, he was one of the first people Calderaro went to embrace after the final card was dealt.

"It means everything to get my boy, right here, his bracelet," said Calderaro. "Right here and him being here at the World Series means everything to me."

Calderaro is a successful businessman who doesn't derive his income from his poker results, but that hasn't stopped him from putting up some impressive results along the way. He's now earned over $2.3 million at the WSOP alone with most of those cashes coming in the bigger buy-ins.

Being as successful as he is away from the felt, sometimes he doesn't take the smaller buy-ins as seriously as he should.

"In the smaller events, I probably play the smaller events a little more wilder and try to get chips early and stuff like that," said the New York native and Florida resident. "I play tighter in the bigger events and play more snug, for sure. I probably play those a little more and with less of an attitude and just wanted to dance around and just have fun and stuff like that. So, I probably don't take those as seriously, which I should."

His success away from the table may hinder him in some of the smaller events because of his mindset, he knows that the outcome of any given poker tournament isn't going to affect his day-to-day life. Which helps him put pressure on people in some of the bigger buy-ins that may be more affected by where they finish.

"As far as the edge goes, yeah. I'd say it would because it doesn't mean as much to me as the people that play poker for a living," said Calderaro. "My financial income is not from poker so playing the game, losing or winning is not going to change my lifestyle... When you say the word edge, I never like to to use that word, but I think I play the game more so if I lose than, you know, then I lost - it's not a big deal. A lot of people it's a lot different for them."

Throughout the final table, Calderaro battled with Russian businessman Alexey Rybin. The two were constantly playing pots and one of the two had the chip lead for the entire final table. With each player having a deep and loud rail of support, the atmosphere of the final table felt more like a scene out of Rocky IV than most WSOP final tables.

Calderaro thrived in that environment. It suited his style his play and he was able to get the rest of the table to loosen up and have a good time.

"I love it. That makes it even more enjoyable for me," said Calderaro about the raucous atmosphere. "Because as you know, I like to shuffle it up, get people going, talk to them and everything else. As far as the loudness, that's usually my game anyway. I like to talk at the table, I like to go crazy and like to get people to talk.... I get people to laugh and have a good time. Because otherwise it's boring. I like getting wild and stuff like that. As far as the crowd goes, you know, sometimes my friends a little nuts."

When the final day of play got underway at 2 p.m., there were 20 players remaining, but it quickly got down to a final table. The tournament was played eight-handed, so when the final eight players were reached, Calderaro held a sizable chip lead over the rest of the table.

As the final table got short-handed, Rybin scored a massive double up through Calderaro, but that never fazed him. As far as Calderaro was concerned, this was his tournament to win..

"I never thought I was losing," he said. "Especially when I lost the aces to aces [hand], my rail and everybody else looked down and I looked right at my boy, right in the eye and said 'It doesn't mean nothing. I'm not losing this.' I knew I was never losing this."

Even before he took such a massive chip lead with only a few people standing between him and his first bracelet, Calderaro thought he was going to take it down.

"I was winning this, hands down," said the man nicknamed 'Caldo.' "From the time I walked in today. From the time I started playing."

It was with two tables left that Calderaro played a massive three-way all in against Rifat Palevic and Iraj Parvizi to knoc out two players and start to build the chip lead that he took to the final table.

On a flop of    , Parvizi checked, Palevic bet 375,000, Calderaro potted it to 1,400,000 and Parvizi jammed all in for 3,100,000. Palevic called and Calderaro called, having both players covered.

Parvizi showed     , giving him top pair and an open-ended straight draw, Palevic showed     , giving him bottom set, but Calderaro was in great shape with     , giving him the nut straight and top two pair. Calderaro turned a full house secure himself most of the pot and left Palevic drawing to one out for the smaller side pot.

Calderaro dragged that pot chipped up to almost a third of the chips in play with 14 players left.

"That man is, he's crazy," said Calderaro about Parvizi. "I love playing with him. I got friendly with him, but he's a wildcard. He loves to play, he loves to gamble and I love to gamble. It feels like I'm playing a cash game when I play with that guy.... We just got it all working and I loved the spot I was in. I couldn't believe he re-potted after I potted. And once I got that chip lead."

Calderaro rode the chip lead into the final table, but seemed to stay out of the way of some of the big pots that were played early.

Ben Tollerene was eliminated in eighth by Bryce Yockey after they got all in on the flop with Yockey having aces, the nut flush draw, and a straight draw against Tollerene's middle pair and a straight draw. Dan Smith was soon following Tollerene to the payout cage after he was eliminated by Rybin. Smith ran top pair, top kicker into Rybin's top set and the second nut flush draw, leaving him drawing very thin.

Tollerene earned $112,139 and Smith took home $146,961 for their respective finishes. 

Calderaro scored his first knockout when he sent Dario Sammartino to the rail in sixth. They got all in preflop with Sammartino showing      against Calderaro's     . Calderaro spiked an ace on the flop and Sammartino netted $197,007 for his sixth place finish.

Sammartino quietly has been quietly putting together a solid summer. The Italian pro earned his seventh cash of the series and his second final table.

Five-handed play was when Rybin scored a massive double up through Calderaro. They both got all in preflop with aces in their hand, but Rybin made quad queens to double up and take a big chip lead of his own. Eventually, he took the chip lead back, but Calderaro and Rybin would battle for the lead from this point on.

Rybin then eliminated Yockey in fifth and the final four players took a 60-minute dinner break. Yockey fell just shy of his second bracelet of the summer. He settled for $270,242 fifth place money.

Calderaro eliminated Artem Babakhanyan near the end of the first level after dinner to take the chip lead into three-handed play. During three-handed play, Esther Taylor seemed to stay out of the way of the two big stacks, allowing Rybin and Calderaro to continually put chips in the middle against each other.

After nearly two hours of hanging around, Taylor found herself all in and in trouble against Rybin. Rybin flopped trip sixes and had the lead against Taylor's pair, gutshot straight draw and backdoor diamond draw. She couldn't find any help and earned $543,713, the biggest score of her career, for her third place finish.

This was another impressive result for the Pennsylvania pro, who for the second year in a row, has been putting up impressive results. This summer alone, she's cashed eight times and made four final tables.

Rybin started out with about a 2-to-1 chip lead heads-up against Calderaro, but the chips were flying from the start of the match. Calderaro scored an early double up to take the chip lead back from Rybin and he never looked back. It was a short heads-up match that only lasted about 35 minutes before Calderaro secured what is now his son's WSOP bracelet.

Full Results
Relive the action through the live updates

Final Table Results:

1st: James Calderaro - $1,289,074
2nd: Alexey Rybin - $796,706
3rd: Esther Taylor - $543,713
4th: Artem Babakhanyan - $379,128
5th: Bryce Yockey - $270,242
6th: Dario Sammartino - $197,007
7th: Dan Smith - $146,961
8th: Ben Tollerene - $112,239