Dan Lacourse outlasted a field of 2,217 other players including some of the most legendary poker players to ever hit the felt to claim the title in Event 42 ($1,000 No Limit Hold ‘em Seniors World Championship) to capture his first World Series of Poker bracelet.
Lacourse spent 27 years as a member of the Lucas County Deputy Sherrif ‘s Department in Toledo, OH . Five of those years were spent as a polygraph examiner.
“Having that experience as a polygraph examiner certainly helped in winning this event. As a polygraph examiner you learn about timing, speed and reactions. At this tournament you can watch players as they get tired, their reactions start changing, they think too much in the beginning of the game, but as they get tired they tend not to think as much,” said Lacourse. “You learn that an initial reaction occurs within the first three seconds and that is what I gauged a player by”. Lacourse’s sharp eye allowed him to best a field that included such legends as Amarillo Slim and Men “The Master” Nguyen.
Prior to the action in the final table getting underway both players and railbirds were treated to a special performance by Bruce Atkinson, a 71-year-old professional Elvis impersonator, brought the seniors and fans to their feet with his rendition of “Johnny Be Good”. Aktinson, who has performed for decades in front of WSOP audiences, also serves as the president of the European Poker Players Hall of Fame. Once Atkinson gave the okay to “Shuffle Up and Deal” play was underway with Dale Eberle, a 55-year-old retired firefighter from Akron, Ohio holding a slim chip lead.
Fred Berger, who was nearly able to make his early bird dinner reservation, was kept in play when his A-9 survived for a chop pot against Eberle’s A-10. It appeared as though Eberle had Berger outkicked with his 10 until a miracle queen came on the board, necessitating the chop. At first neither player realized that the queen caused a chopped pot and Berger made his way to the exit, however before all the chips were passed to Eberle and the cards were mucked, a few spectators shouted “Chop Pot, Chop Pot”.
Upon review officials noticed the queen caused the chop pot and gave Berger another shot at life. He made the most of his new opportunity, as just two hands later he was able to double up through Peter Silverstien and later Mark Fluss to get close to the 1 million chip mark and put himself right back into contention for the bracelet. Berger’s run would not last however, as just before the break he found himself all in with pocket two’s against the pocket jacks of Lacourse. When a jack hit the flop the miracle run for Berger ended, but in the process he picked up $106,944 which is $42,000 more than he would have received had he finished seventh.
When play resumed after the break, three players were alive to battle it out for the bracelet. Joining Lacourse in this three way battle were Eberle and Mark Fluss, a 52-year-old contractor from Scottsdale, Arizona. The first hand after the break Fluss, who was short-stacked and desperately in need of chips, pushed all-in with a pair of sixes. Lacourse called the all-in with an open-ended straight draw which was hit on the river sending Fluss to the rail. His departure set-up a battle between the two men from the Buckeye state, one representing the police and representing the firefighters. It was the heads-up match that both players were looking forward to happening ever since last evening.
“After talking with Dale when we were comparing retirement systems and the like we thought maybe it would be great if we ended up heads-up against each other, it would the best thing in the world, I couldn’t ask for anything more”.
Heads-up play began with the two community service hero’s making a friendly dinner wager over the outcome of this tournament with the winner buying. Three days of playing together and sharing stories had really created a bond between not only the two men. However the battle among the Ohioans would only last two hands. Lacourse, who made trip nines on the flop, check-raised all-in and gave Eberle no choice but to call holding a pair of Kings. The board blanked out and Lacourse rose to his feet and the two great heroes shook hands at center stage.
Lacourse’s victory was made sweeter by the fact that his wife booked a surprise flight at the last second Tuesday evening and arrived at the final table this afternoon with luggage in tow right as cards hit the air. Lacourse was originally scheduled to head home immediately after this event, but now with his wife here he will take a few days to spend with her, enjoy everything that Las Vegas has to offer and contemplate an entry into this year’s Main Event. Entry fee will not be an issue as Lacourse takes home $368,759 for his efforts in today’s event.
For a complete listing of payouts visit the WSOP results