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Gary Trask

Gary  Trask
Gary serves as Casino City's managing editor and has worked as a writer and editor more than 20 years. The Boston native was a member of the Poker Hall of Fame's inaugural Media Committee and a current member of the Women in Poker Hall of Fame voting panel.

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Rand's run as semi-celebrity at WSOP Main Event comes to an end

11 Jul 2019

By Gary Trask
Kevin Rand, a copy editor from Texas, bowed out in 84th place at the WSOP Main Event on Thursday.

Kevin Rand, a copy editor from Texas, bowed out in 84th place at the WSOP Main Event on Thursday. (photo by Gary Trask)

LAS VEGAS – Kevin Rand’s day started with a hero’s welcome at breakfast on Thursday morning.

As the 38-year-old copy editor from Austin, Texas approached the bar at Hash House A Go Go at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, he incited a huge rise from the waiters who have been serving him his two eggs over easy and crispy bacon every day for the last week.

“There he is!” shouted Bobby the waiter with a huge smile. “We weren’t sure if you were going to see you again. Guess this means you’re still alive!”

Indeed, Rand was alive and well on the morning of Day 6 of the World Series of Poker’s Main Event. After maneuvering his way to the final 106 players of a field that started with a near-record 8,569 entrants, Rand wasn’t about to change his breakfast routine.

“I’ve been coming here every day, so I’m not going to switch it up,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll be here for breakfast for the next four days.”

Of course, that would bring him to Monday, when the 50th Main Event champion will be crowned. And if that was to be the case, Rand would start getting recognized by a lot more people than just the friendly servers at the popular breakfast spot at the Rio. And that’s exactly what the WSOP Main Event is all about. Regular guys who play poker recreationally, taking time off from their “real job” to pony up $10,000 for the chance to secure a spot in poker history forever.

When we spoke to Rand at the same breakfast bar 48 hours earlier, he was relieved to have just made the money, but said he wasn’t satisfied. Heading into Thursday, he had 7.135 million chips, good for 23rd out of the 106 players remaining, which meant he had a different mindset.

“It’s for real now; the vibe has changed,” he said. “There’s a chance I could make a really deep run. I’m just going to try and stay on the clock and acquire chips. Do what I have to do to keep building that stack.”

While Rand was participating in his first Main Event, he’s been playing poker seriously for almost a decade. His biggest score — by far — came back in January when he took home $147,327 after winning a WSOP Circuit Event at Choctaw Casino Resort - Durant, prompting him to take a shot at poker’s most prestigious tournament. He took two weeks off from his copy editor job at Apple, booked a one-way ticket to Las Vegas and had every intention of staying until the final day of the Main Event. His parents, who were on a pre-planned trip to the Grand Canyon, arrived in Las Vegas on Tuesday to cheer their son on.

“My boss doesn’t even know I’m playing,” he said with a wry smile.

In the end, Rand’s lucky breakfast couldn’t help him overcome a couple of untimely decisions. Early on in the day, with a pair of eights, he tried to bluff Yuri Dzivielevski, who called and flipped over a straight. After the first break of the day, Rand got moved to a secondary featured table and was suddenly mic’d up and sitting under the hot TV lights.

Hopefully his boss back in Texas wasn’t watching PokerGo. If she was, she didn’t get to watch her star employee for long. Less than an hour later, with his parents on the rail, Rand pushed his final 1,210 million chips in from early position with A-K offsuit. Alex Foxen, the No. 1-ranked Global Poker Index player in the world, reshoved for 1,510 million and then Zackary Koerper called from the big blind. The board went blank for Rand and the dream was all of sudden over.

“It’s hard to process, to be honest,” Rand told us as he walked to the cash out window to collect $82,365 for his 84th place finish. “I’m sad. I’m tired. I wanted more money, but, hey, overall I know this is a huge chunk that I can add to my bankroll. It was a blast out there.”
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