'Seniors' Dan LaCourse wins WSOP bracelet

Jul 1, 2008 7:02 PM

Back in the Saddle by Johnny Hale | Carol, I busted a few more buttons off my vest this week!

I was honored to host 2,218 of "The Seniors" World Championship Of Poker (WCOP) at their annual event in the World Series of Poker with the largest prize pool ever – $2,018,380.

Dan LaCourse outlasted the field, which included 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) for his first WSOP bracelet. LaCourse spent 27 years in the Lucas County Sheriff’s Department in Toledo, Ohio. Five of those years were as a polygraph examiner.

Some of the notables to fall in the competition were "Amarillo Slim" Preston, Tom McEvoy, Men "the Master" Nguyen, Fred Berger, Tom Franklin, John Esposito and Tony Ma. LaCourse took home the top prize of $368,832. Berger finished fifth and took home $106.974.

I did the color commentary for about six hours on ESPN’s telecast of the event and am sure most of my comments will wind up on the cutting room floor.

All of you folks know that I talk slow and write long, but Howard, my co-announcer, said I could talk as slow as I wanted. I have been promoting "The Seniors" WCOP for ESPN and other television outlets for sometime and now it is big enough to be noticed.

"The Seniors" WCOP event was the largest that I have hosted with close to a 20 percent increase over last year’s old record of 1,882.

I created "The Seniors" WCOP about 20 years ago at Len Miller’s Oceanside Card Casino in California and have hosted events all over the world along with those on many cruise ships.

At the Orleans Open on July 15, Oklahoma Sarah will host the Whippersnappers and I will be in charge of The Seniors" in a tag team event called "The Battle of the Ages."

This is a charity poker tournament so the Orleans poker room and upstairs management have decided not to take any money out of the players’ prize pool. The Orleans poker room will donate half their fee to "The Seniors" Charity. And, on Aug. 24, we will host "The Seniors" [XV] WCOP at the fabulous Oceans Eleven in Oceanside, California.

Years ago I negotiated a contract arrangement with Binion’s Horseshoe to bring "The Seniors" WCOP No-Limit Hold’em event to the WSOP.

I remember one of the comments made by the Becky Binion, owner of Binion’s Horseshoe at that time.

Becky said, "Johnny. I do not want so much of you in the event. I am afraid that you will promote it so well that you will have more senior players than I do in the WSOP’s World Championship $10,000 event."

I had just enjoyed hosting the Inaugural event of The Seniors" with 396 players.

And you all know Becky eventually followed up with the decision to sell the WSOP to Harrah’s.

I remember telling my friend Gary Thompson of Harrah’s that my first goal was 1,000 seniors. Gary thought I was joking.

So far Harrah’s has not put any limitations on me and, if they do not in a few years, "The Seniors" WCOP at the WSOP will pass the $10,000 championship event in number of players.

Yes, it was with a great deal of pride that I saw the wheelchairs lined up in the front of that crowd, so large that Harrah’s had to put "The Seniors" event in four huge rooms.

A lot of my friends said some very nice words to me and thanked me for creating the event for them.

Many of them added, "this is the only event I play in at the WSOP!"

OK-J Tip of The Week

Just because there is snow on the top of a lot of "The Seniors" WCOP poker players doesn’t mean there isn’t a fire in the belly!

They have stood the test of time in life and poker. They know how to live and all of these players are winners.