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Comins brings experience from playing against father to Main Event

8 Jul 2015

By Dan Podheiser
LAS VEGAS – Joe Comins has been preparing for his first World Series of Poker Main Event for 37 years.

Comins began playing Texas Hold’em with his father in 1978, long before the mid-2000s poker boom and the advent of online poker. He played his dad for his allowance money. And it didn’t take long for him to realize that if he wanted to have some change in his pocket, he better learn how to win.

“My dad taught the lesson of how you were going to lose, and you were either going to learn how to win or you would lose all your allowance money over and over,” Comins said.

By the time he was 9 or 10 years old, Comins says, he was finally able to start beating his father. That’s when he started to take the game seriously.

Flash forward to today, and Comins, who owns of a regional trucking company in Huntington Beach, California, has made it to Day 2AB of the 2015 Main Event. He’s come to the WSOP for the past eight years and had only played in smaller preliminary events prior to this year. This summer’s Main Event is his first – and it’s also the first time he’s made a Day 2 at the WSOP.

Back home, Comins and his wife of 15 years, Theresa, have a 2-year-old son named Thomas Joseph. According to Joe, it’s only a matter of time before he starts passing down the tradition of teaching poker to his son.

“He’s going to have to learn, he’s not going to have a choice,” Comins said. “He’ll learn one way or the other; the hard way or the easy way. We’ll see what choice he wants to make.”

Between working 60 hours a week and taking care of his little boy, Comins says he doesn’t have much time for poker. He squeezes in a few tournaments at local casinos whenever he can, but he admits it’s tough to keep his game as sharp as he’d like.

This year’s Main Event trip is a birthday gift from Theresa, who Joe says is supportive of his love for poker – as long as he continues to be successful.

“She loves the wins; losses aren’t so good,” Comins said. “As long as I cash (in the Main Event), she’ll be happy.”

Comins survived Day 1B of the Main Event with about 40,000 chips, and by the end of the first level on Day 2AB, he had chipped up to around 50,000. He spent about five hours the first day playing with Australian pro and six-time WSOP bracelet winner Jeff Lisandro, and adjusted his play accordingly.

“(Playing with Lisandro) probably helped me because it made me play that much sharper and made me make sure every bet I made was the right bet,” Comins said. “I never knew when he was going to play back at me.”

Comins made it through the day without playing any major hands with Lisandro, and came away from the experience with a renewed sense of confidence in his game.

“Overall it was great,” Comins said. “He didn’t play nearly as crazy as I thought he was going to play.”

Comins says his overall strategy in the Main Event is to survive as long as he can, and to not lose any big pots. He has a degree in finance, so his math skills help him make the right decision at the table most of the time.

Those skills undoubtedly blossomed nearly four decades ago when Comins took on his father for his allowance money. Back then, winning meant being able to afford the things a young boy would want to buy. Today, a deep run in the Main Event could be life-changing for Joe, Theresa and Thomas Joseph.

Update: Shortly after the second break on Day 2AB, Comins busted from the Main Event.
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