WSOP seniors event shows class

June 30, 2015 3:02 AM


Seniors World Series of PokerI don’t think I have ever enjoyed playing in a tournament as much as I did the Seniors’ event at the WSOP this year. I can’t wait until next year to play it again.

If some of the younger generation could take some advice from an old man, maybe it’s in all our best interest to be more civil at the table. It got me to thinking that if we could clone the seniors and make them ambassadors for poker, we could grow the game 10 times the size it is now.

There was a feeling of family I have never experienced before. Players respected one another and thanked the dealers for dealing when they left the box. There was no abuse; it was just players trying to get to know one another and play with respect for each other, the dealers and staff.

“Oklahoma Johnny” Hale, founder of the Seniors Championship, deserves a great deal of the credit. He and his family work so hard to make the senior event a success every year. Maybe the friendly atmosphere comes from seniors being able to relax in their later stage of life since they’ve been there and seen it all. Whatever the formula is for success, I wish it could be replicated in more tournaments.

It reminded me of how poker should be and may never be again. Back in the day you would judge players not by how much they won or how many bracelets they owned, but by what a great person they were to play with and how they handled losing.

These young online players, with their super aggressive win-at-all-cost attitudes, do not always make it such a pleasant experience at the live poker table. It never really came into focus for me as it did at the Rio a few weeks ago.

Nowadays a player can’t say, “Thank you, nice hand.” because his opponent has ear phones on and could not care less how his opponent handled himself at the table. The industry needs young players to grow the sport, and they need to take a good look at how poker could benefit from all the players showing a little love instead of driving players away.

I am hopeful this will just take time to evolve. The good news for our industry is they are the future and entering the gaming industry by the millions. I am raising two teenagers of my own, so I speak not only as a player but a dad who is working on teaching my kids to be more socially outgoing and polite. Believe me, it’s hard. They spend all day playing video games that are all about killing your enemy in the most violent way possible.

Before the event, Hale recognized some major poker players who are no longer with us, which was a very touching moment. We have lost legends of the game this year like David “Devilfish” Ulliott and Eskimo Clark who have gone on to the great poker game in the sky. I really enjoyed playing poker again and, God willing, I will not miss another senior event.

Robert Turner is a legendary poker player and billiard marketing expert, best known for inventing the game of Omaha poker and introducing it to Nevada in 1982 and to California in 1986. In the year 2000, he created World Team Poker, the first professional league for poker. He has over 30 years experience in the gaming industry and is co-founder of Crown Digital Games. Twitter @thechipburnerRobert can be reached at