There’s a saying that “age is nothing but a number” and in 2015 that fact was proved beyond any doubt thanks to four well travelled poker pros.
Between Neil Blumenfield, Pierre Neuville, Jon Andlovec and Doyle Brunson, the poker world was able to see that form is temporary but class is permanent.
Topping the table of seniors defying the odds and showing the young bucks a thing or two was Blumenfield and Neuville.
Despite advancing in years, the 61-year-old and 72-year-old not only managed to make it past more than 6,400 players in the 2015 WSOP Main Event, but actually gave themselves a real shot at winning it.
Neuville might have been one of the short stacks, but he had a wealth of experience heading into the final and he was certainly a flag bearer for those rich with life experience.
Despite faltering in seventh, the 72-year-old certainly showed that a poker player’s mind can still thrive even when the body starts to fail.
Blumenfield fared better in the finale and, had it not been for the dominant McKeehen, he could have won. An impressive performance by the veteran pushed him to third in the rankings before he eventually hit the rail with pocket deuces.
Despite missing out on the win, Blumenfield received a rapturous round of applause from the crowd and gave every aging grinder a rush of inspiration.
The growing popularity of poker among mature players manifested itself in a new event at the 2015 WSOP. With the seniors’ event getting bigger each year, the organizers decided to host a super seniors event for those aged 65+.
Despite that limiting the potential size of the field, an impressive 1,533 players anted-up $1,000 to take part in the tournament but only one could win. That man was 72-year-old Jon Andlovec from Carson City.
A former farmer who’s played poker all his life, Andlovec entered the tournament without any expectations but came away delighted after he outlasted Rod Pardey Senior heads-up to bank $262,220.
Aside from rolling back the years and claiming the largest score of his career, Andlovec explained after the event that the win was for his daughter who actually funded his tournament buy-in.
“I won this for my daughter Jennifer. I wasn’t coming to the WSOP, but she sent me $1,000 and said: dad, please go win the Super Seniors so that I can have an elaborate wedding,” Andlovec said.
We couldn’t recap a year of triumphs for the seniors without mentioning Doyle Brunson. Although the poker legend didn’t add to his bracelet haul in 2015, he continued to crush the biggest cash games in Las Vegas and all while waiting for major surgery.
After doctors discovered a cancerous lump on the top of his head, the 10-time bracelet winner was booked in for surgery. Despite being the 12th major surgery of his career, the poker pro still entered the operating room with some trepidation.
Fortunately, everything went smoothly and he was released from hospital and given the all clear a few days later. Naturally, in typically humorous fashion, Brunson told his Twitter followers the good news in the form of a joke.
“@TexDolly: Found out this big incision on my head is where @RealKidPoker paid the doc to try to extract some poker knowledge from my head. #didntwork,” tweeted Brunson.
As you can see, writing off those with a few more miles on the clock in poker is never a good idea. Just because the body is failing, it doesn’t mean the mind can’t stay strong. In fact, one of the reasons Doyle Brunson believes he’s survived so many surgeries is because poker has kept his alert and active.
So here’s to those in their silver-haired prime and all they’ve done over the last 12 months.