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Seniors Making it Happen at the 2012 World Series of Poker

Who says poker is a young man’s game! We expect the $1,000 Seniors Tournament at the World Series of Poker to go to someone over 50 (that is the requirement to play the event after all) but this will mark not the first 50+ winner at the 2012 WSOP, but the fourth! Not only that, but the Seniors Tournament is down to four players and three of those players are pretty well-known entities in the poker world, Dennis Phillips, Hoyt Corkins, and Allyn Jaffrey-Shulman.

With a record-setting field of 4,128 players (a record for both the Seniors Tournament and for any single Day’s flight in World Series of Poker history) the four remaining players are battling for one of the largest first-place prizes at the 2012 WSOP, with over $600k set aside for the winner –all four players are guaranteed a minimum payday of $199,023 for their efforts.

So how have the 50+ crowd been faring at the 2012 WSOP? Herbert Tapscott won Event #8: $1,500 Omaha 8 or better, David Arsht won Event #13: $1,500 No Limit Holdem, and Larry Wright won Event #30: $1,500 2-7 Draw Lowball. Not to mention that Andy Bloch and Phil Hellmuth both picked-up WSOP bracelets this year (Bloch is 43 and Hellmuth is 48).

Record-setting fields, AARP card-carrying WSOP winners, and a group of the most famous poker players in the history of the game all approaching middle age; maybe poker is on a downswing in terms of the younger generation, but it seems like the game is gaining traction amongst a slightly older demographic.

This shouldn’t be too surprising, since the generation that was attracted to poker thanks to the perfect storm in the early 2000’s that included the hole-card cam, James McManus’ Positively Fifth Street, Chris Moneymaker, the rise of online poker, and Rounders are now in their mid to late-20’s (or older), and the new generation of young players have grown up in a post-UIGEA world. The influx of young players has been slashed, and the balance of power appears to be shifting back to experienced live players.

Another storyline developing is Jaffrey-Shulman, the wife of WSOPE Main Event champion Barry Shulman. I’m not sure that the Seniors Tournament counts as an open-bracelet event, but considering women made-up only a small percentage of the field, and the event isn’t skewed towards women (like the Ladies Tournament) this could be the first WSOP event won by a women since 2008. Jaffrey-Shulman wasn’t the only female to make the final 10 either, as Carolyn Tulloch was the 10th place finisher in the tournament.

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