61-Year-Old Clare Miller Wins Seniors World Poker Championship. New Mexico grandmother is first woman to ever win seniors event, during week of her 41st wedding anniversary.
There was a point very late in the 2006 Seniors World Poker Championship when tournament officials approached the surviving players and offered them the option of calling it a night and returning the next day. The seniors had played two lengthy, grueling days during which more than a thousand players had been eliminated. Amongst the nine exhausted survivors, there were some weary faces. When the tournament director approached 61-year old Clare Miller, her answer was uncompromising and to the point.
“Deal the cards, we’re playin’!” she snapped.
Poker is a natural pastime for all seniors. It very well may be the only competitive game which allows persons 50, 60, 70, or even 80-years and older to compete on an equal playing field with younger players in their 20s and 30s. Where else but a poker table could a 61 year-old grandmother become a “world champion?”
Poker not only affords opportunities for seniors to compete and win. More important, poker brings people of all walks of life together in a friendly social atmosphere. Many friendships are built around poker tables. Kuei Chi Chang, an 80-year-old woman from Las Vegas, who competed in her first-ever poker tournament at the World Series of Poker last week, said it best: “Poker makes me feel young again.”
This year’s Seniors World Poker Championship was the largest such competition ever in poker history. In a World Series which continues to shatter every conceivable record ever posted in poker, 1,184 players flooded into the Rio Las Vegas to compete for over a million dollars in prize money, including first place—$247,814 in cash.
The event began with a solemn moment. The roll call of names from poker’s glorious past were called out over a silent room packed to full capacity. Poker’s proud pioneers were remembered—including Benny Binion, Johnny Moss, and Puggy Pearson who passed away only a few months ago. “Oklahoma Johnny” Hale was the perfect host for the proceedings. As the event’s Grand Marshall, Hale inducted two new members into the Seniors Poker Hall of Fame. Mike “the Mad Genius” Caro and Paul McKinney were introduced in a brief ceremony.
With that, the senior’s event began. The competition was open to persons aged 50 and older. The event attracted an eclectic mix of poker players. Paul McKinney, last year’s 82-year-old seniors champion (and the latest inductee into the Seniors Poker Hall of Fame) was on hand to defend his title. Jan Fisher, the popular writer and columnist for Card Player magazine entered, along with her father, Dr. Peter Fisher. The Fisher’s participation likely marked the first time that a father and daughter played together in the seniors championship. Also, a husband and wife from Alamogordo, New Mexico entered the tournament. Shelby Miller would outlast all but 39 players in this event. His wife, Clare Miller would ultimately fare much better.
The final table began with nine players, including one former winner, Ron Rose. The first player to exit was the well-known poker writer and commentator John Vorhaus, a.k.a. “JV.” The 50-year-old poker celebrity from Los Angeles, author of the highly-acclaimed “Killer Poker” book series, received $24,292 for ninth place.
Stan Schirer went out next. The 70-year-old Las Vegas retiree, originally from Nebraska, was the third-lace finisher in the WSOP main event back in 2001. This time he finished eighth, good for $26,936.
Doug Schuller, a concrete dispatcher from Fresno, California cemented a seventh-place finish. The 54-year-old said plays poker as a hobby. Not too many hobbies pay $32,323 in prize money – which is what Schuller took home.
Ron Rose arrived with most impressive poker resume – with several major tournament victories including a win in the Seniors World Poker Championship back in 2003. Rose’s bid to become the first two-time champion in this event’s history was foiled as the former Internet guru from Dayton, Ohio had to settle for a sixth-place finish. Rose earned $37,710.
David Claiborne was the next player to exit. The auto dealer from Twin Falls, Idaho drove off with $43,098 for fifth place. Claiborne also finished in the top five percent in last year’s main event.Judy Carlson was one of two ladies at the final table. Carlson ended up as the fourth-place finisher. The Blackhawk, Colorado poker pro added $53,872 to her poker brankroll.
Third place went to Jake “Doc” Wells. The horse veterinarian from Texas galloped off the final table with $74,882 in prize money.Clare Miller had the chip lead most of the way. There had been a point earlier in the night when Miller caught a big break. She won a race with ace-king versus pocket queens, which essentially gave her the chips that would propel her on to victory. “It was luck,” Miller modestly explained in a post-tournament interview. “You have to have a lot of luck to win.”
The final hand of the tournament came when Mike Nargi was dealt pocket threes and moved all-in. Miller, holding queen-eight suited, called. The final board showed 10-4-2-6-8. An eight on the river eliminated Nargi and gave Miller her victory.
The runner up, Mike Nargi is a 53-year-old former craps dealer from Arkansas, who now gambles professionally. Nargi had a nice run at the poker table before he finally sevened-out. Second-place paid $129,293.
Clare Miller was overjoyed with her victory. She broke into tears and her voice quivered as she experienced the thrill of a lifetime. Afterward, Miller told her own personal story that she and her husband had struggled in their earlier years together. Through a lot of hard work and love, the couple built a few businesses and eventually became quite successful. In their retirement years they turned to poker as an activity they could play and enjoy together. The fact that Mr. Shelby Miller finished 40th in the same tournament was clear evidence that this would be the Miller’s day. Fittingly, the happy couple is celebrating their 41st wedding anniversary this week.
Miller put everything into proper perspective when she was presented with the coveted WSOP gold bracelet and prize money totaling nearly a quarter-of-a-million dollars. “We are very lucky and live very comfortably now, so at this stage the bracelet is probably more important,” she said. “But they don’t mean anything compared to my 41-years with Shelby.”
Dieser Artikel erschien auf PokerOlymp am 18.04.2007.