Successful businessman and 2015 One Drop High Roller runner-up weighs on on the Seniors Championship event
June 17, 2017 (Las Vegas, NV) - In a poker world that is full of hoodies, headphones and five-minute tank-calls on the flop, the $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em Seniors Championship at the World Series of Poker provides a different atmosphere for players over the age of 50.
The 2017 edition of the Seniors Championship event allowed a single re-entry for the players. That helped generate a record-setting field of 5,389 entries, which is up from last year’s record setting 4,499-entry field.
Super high roller regular Bill Klein has been eligible for this event for several years and notices a dramatic difference between the super high-stakes action he usually partakes in compared to this field.
“These guys, this is pure recreation,” said Klein. “They are chasing a dream. And people got excited yesterday just to get to dinner break. Other guys got excited just to bag up. They are all so excited that they made the money. It’s just kind of fun to see that again. It’s almost like watching little kids. It’s fun to see it that way.”
Klein is used to staring down players wearing sunglasses and being as still as possible to give away as little as possible about the strength of their hand. In this event, the players are much friendlier to each other and are much more likely to have conversations about something other than poker.
“There is some,” said Klein about the comradery between the players in the field. “They are more likely to talk about their hip replacement or they are excited that their wife let them come do this. The younger guys, they don’t talk about their elbow hurting or their knees are bothering them. They don’t worry about their wives because they are doing this for a living.”
Coming back from the dinner break on Day 2 of the event, Klein is among the bigger stacks in the field. Between his stacks size and his experience with some of the best players in the world, he was in no immediate danger of busting.
There were still players that were at his table that made him weary, though. They just make him uncomfortable in a different way than the top pros do.
“I’m now down to a table where there are a couple guys that make me uncomfortable when they make a play,” said the Laguna Hills, CA resident. “I’ve gotten so used to playing in the high-limit events with all the young guys and a lot of the Europeans, the Germans especially. I feel more comfortable with them.”
One obvious dynamic that the Seniors event gives Klein that he doesn’t have in other events is there is less of an age disparity. It’s a pleasant change of pace for him to play with players who are all in his general age range.
“The scary part is that I played in an event recently where I got down to three-way action and I looked at the other two guys and I said ‘I bet if I added both of your ages together and I added both the Obama administration and the Bush administration, I would still have you covered,’” said Klein. “I had them by four years. Here, every so often, I can look at a guy and say, ‘Nice play, kid’ and he’s 65. It’s pretty fun.”
Klein’s best finish at the WSOP came in 2015 when he finished second to Jonathan Duhamel in the $111,111 High Roller for One Drop for more than $2.4 million. A win in this event would be worth $617,303 and his first bracelet, but he wouldn’t be taking any of the profits for himself.
The successful businessman decided that he would be donating his winnings to charity. He’s yet to decide on which charity (or multiple charities) will get the money, but it will be something local in Orange County, California and will benefit children in some way. The specifics of his donation will depend on how much he cashes for.
Regardless of his finish, he’s enjoying playing a different style of poker. A style that more closely resembles what older pros discuss about the days when the series was held downtown at Binion’s.
“These guys are a lot more old school. It’s a different type of poker. And they are all having a good time. I think that’s the biggest deal. It’s so well organized and it moves along at a good pace. They all know that eventually, everybody loses except for one guy. You almost always lose your last hand.”
When it comes to the increase in players this year, Klein doesn’t believe it’s because of the re-entry, he chalks it up to the advances of modern medicine.
“I think it’s because we are living longer,” said Klein with a laugh. “I don’t think there is any doubt about it.”
Day 2 of the Seniors event wraps up on Saturday night and they are scheduled to play down to a winner on Sunday.