Poker Players Never Retire

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November 4th, 2018
Back Poker Players Never Retire

It's a fact you can take to the bank: poker players never retire.

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Well, maybe never is too strong a word. I can see a player hanging up the cards if illness comes along or if he or she moves to a place where legal poker is not available. Or a player might take up another hobby that takes up his time and energy and that provides him with more pleasure than a card game.

A couple of years ago I spent some time with Doyle Brunson and asked him about his retirement plans. Doyle just gave me a grin and shook his head.

'Would you retire from writing?,' he asked me. It's an old Yankee trick to respond to a question by asking one of your own.

'Never,' I said. 'It's too much fun.'

'That's the way I feel about poker. 'Poker is a skill game, not a gambling game although there are a lot of gamblers who play poker. I'm going to stay at this game as long as the good Lord gives me the sense and capabilities to play it well.'

About a month ago...

... Doyle seemed to have changed his mind. Citing his wife's failing health, he said he planned to pull back from long tournaments or cash games and spend more time at home with his wife. While I thought that was a good decision, I found myself thinking that poker without Doyle Brunson just would not be the same.

When I played poker in Brownsville, PA. where I worked as editor of a daily newspaper, we had a regular player named Andy. He had been born in Russia and became a coal miner at an early age, a profession he stayed at all his working life.

A Veteran Player

He was in his early 90s when we met. He played at the Elks Club, where we had a game three nights a week, and at private home games. Andy was a good solid player and you had to work hard to take his money. The last time I saw him was about five years ago. I don't know if he has gotten the 'golden handshake,' but I hope he is still around. He was a colorful character who was fun to play against.

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I think it's great that casinos and poker rooms have facilities to accommodate poker players in wheelchairs and even players who have problems with failing vision. The poker room managers give every assistance to elderly players with physical or vision problems in order to make them as comfortable as possible.

Some casinos even stage special tournaments for senior citizens. They restrict the play to players over a certain age. These tournaments are very popular to the older players and if you are over 50 or 60, you should look into them.

I have written past columns about my friend Oklahoma Johnny Hale and his creation of the Senior World Series of Poker for players over the age of 65. As far as I know, this tournament is still going on and is gaining popularity with players around the country.

As for my own plans...

...I don't intend to retire from poker or poker tournaments any time in the near future. And if something happens to me while I am playing, I hope I have pocket aces when it occurs.

Good luck. Let the games begin.

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