Tom Taylor, a 69-year-old from Bakersfield, outlasted 506 other competitors to claim first place and more than $20,000 in the 2013 Central Coast Fall Poker Classic on Saturday at the Chumash Casino Resort.

Taylor persevered through 12 hours of No-Limit Texas Hold’em action and won a heads-up showdown with Jorge Vera, 25, of Santa Barbara to win the tournament, which was an 18-and-over event.

“I guess I showed those young guys that I can still do it,” said Taylor, who walked away with $20,280. “It was tough. I was hanging on by the skin of my teeth there for a while, and those young guys will run you over if you let them. I was just about down and out. I had to start shoving all-in (with about 100 players remaining). And I was down again at the final table, but I was able to hit a couple of big hands, double up a few times and take the lead.”

Taylor amassed an overwhelming chip stack that proved to be too much for Vera when they entered heads-up action.

“Second place is fine with me because I wasn’t even supposed to be here today,” said Vera, who took home $10,140. “Today’s my brother-in-law’s birthday party, and I was waiting on a call from my sister, who needed a ride to go set up for the party. I was 90 percent sure she was going to call, so I almost didn’t even enter. She finally called and said she didn’t need a ride, so here I am playing for the championship.”

Joining Taylor and Vera at the final table were – in the order of finish – Tim Selby of Paso Robles, Joshua Mondragon of Salinas, Dana Chase of Santa Barbara, Robert Perry of Buellton, Logan Nettles of Los Olivos, Nick Bonnefoi of Simi Valley, Ryan Lanse of Ventura and John Jaffe of San Luis Obispo. Third through 10th place paid between $5,070 and $1,216.

In the field of 507 players, the top 75 won prize money, ranging from $1,054 for 11th place to $365 for 75th. Participants paid a $200 buy-in ($180 for early bird registration before October 27) to play in the one-day tournament, which boasted a guaranteed prize pool of $75,000.

The Central Coast Fall Poker Classic is one of two large tournaments the Chumash Casino Resort hosts each year in its Samala Showroom. Each entrant starts with 10,000 chips, and, after a one-hour opening round, the blinds increase every 30 minutes.

Located on Highway 246 in Santa Ynez, California, the Chumash Casino Resort is owned and operated by the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. The casino’s gaming floor is open 24/7 and features 2,000 slot machines, dozens of table games, bingo, poker and daily cash and prize giveaways.


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