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Gary Trask

Gary  Trask
Gary serves as Casino City's Editor in Chief and has worked as a writer and editor more than 25 years. The Boston native was a member of the Poker Hall of Fame's inaugural Media Committee.

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Around the WSOP: Former detective nets a bracelet in Seniors Championship

26 Jun 2008

By Gary Trask

Dan LaCourse spent his entire career as a detective sitting at a table and trying to read what the person across from him was thinking. On Wednesday night, he did it again, except this time it was under different circumstances and the end result was a victory in the $1,000 Seniors World Championship at the World Series of Poker that netted him a coveted gold bracelet and a $368,832 pay check.

Dan LaCourse

Dan LaCourse, a former police detective, called winning a WSOP bracelet "an honor." (photo by IMPDI for the 2008 WSOP)

LaCourse, 56, recently retired from the police force in Toledo, Ohio. One of his key roles was administering polygraphs and after his victory at the Rio he said that his training as a detective and examiner helped him at the poker table. He explained that most people reveal themselves through subtle gestures and mannerisms within three seconds of being of being confronted with a question or decision.

And it didn't take LaCourse much longer than that to dispose of second-place finisher Dale Eberle as the heads-up portion of the event lasted just two hands. Ironically, Eberle is a retired fireman from Akron, which set up an interesting finale.

"It's an honor I wanted my entire life," said LaCourse after winning the highest poker prize ever paid in the special 50-years-old-and-over event. "I have always wanted this and to be standing here with a gold bracelet and this moment is very special to me."

The seniors' event, which became part of the WSOP rotation in 2001, attracted 2,218 entries, creating a prize pool of more than $2 million. It was the largest seniors' event in poker history and the turnout shattered last year's record of 1,882. The 2,000-plus entries this year represent an 18 percent increase over 2007.

Included in the field were a number of big names and former bracelet winners. Fred Berger, who won the Pot-Limit Hold'em championship in 2003, finished in fifth place.Tom McEvoy (28th) and Men "the Master" Nguyen (45th) also each added to their respective legacies by cashing in the event. McEvoy has now finished in-the-money 39 times in his WSOP career and moved into a tie for 17th place on the all-time list with An "The Boss" Tran. Nguyen, meanwhile, scored his 58th-career WSOP paycheck and ranks the all-time list, behind only Phil Hellmuth, who with two cashes this year now has 65 to his name.

Other former WSOP gold bracelet winners who cashed in the event included "Captain" Tom Franklin (64th), John Esposito (107th) and Tony Ma(186th).

A special moment during the tournament came late in Day 2 when poker legend and 1972 world champion "Amarillo Slim" Preston was eliminated. As he left the room the entire room stopped play, and burst into a spontaneous ovation, which collectively paid tribute to the master showman and poker promoter. Preston did manage to cash in the event for the second straight year, finishing 91st. He was featured earlier this week on Casino City when we presented our list of the Top-10 Main Event champions.

Young Gun Mackey leads the $50K H.O.R.S.E. tourney

The Day 1 chip leader after one day of action in the prestigious $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. World Championship is James Mackey. If the name isn't familiar, you might as well get used to seeing him around because he is truly one of the rising stars in the professional ranks.

The Missouri native's first cash at the WSOP came in the form of a victory in last year's $5,000 No Limit Hold'em Championship when he became the third-youngest player to ever win a WSOP bracelet at 21 years, 4 months old. Since then he has cashed three more times, including a second-place in the $10,000 World Championship Mixed Event this year where he won $297,792 and a 25th-place finish in the $3,000 H.O.R.S.E. It appears Mackey, who has built up a purse of more than $1.2 million in winnings during his first three years as a pro, is not uncomfortable playing in mixed events.

Mackey attended the University of Missouri and that's where he met Blair Hinkle and Blake Cahail. The three former U-Missouri classmates are now all poker professionals and roommates, sharing houses in Las Vegas and back in Missouri.

In fact, Hinkle won his first bracelet earlier this year, just 11 days after his younger brother, Grant, won his first, making the duo the first brother combination to win WSOP bracelets in the same year. Cahail is the only one of the trio without a bracelet, but he does have two cashes this year: the $10,000 Heads Up event where he was 59th and the $5,000 No Limit Hold'em event where he placed 33rd.

Mackey will have a stack of 214,000 chips in front of him when Day 2 gets underway Thursday night. He's followed on the chipleader board by Pat Pezzin (200,400), Joe Cassidy (198,700) and Ralph Perry (195,300). Mackey will be hoping to reverse a trend that plays against Day 1 chip leaders this year. Through 42 events, the person with the lead after Day 1 has only gone on to win the tournament once (Vanessa Selbst is the only wire-to-wire victor this year and that came in Event #19).

Only eight players were bounced from Day 1 and the one notable name on that list was none other than The Poker Brat himself, Phil Hellmuth.

The event, which is being played this year in honor of the late David "Chip" Reese, drew 148 players – the exact same number as last year – and features a prize pool of more than $7 million. Just 16 spots will cash and the winner will go home with a cool $1,989,120.

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