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February 28, 2015

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Oldest player exits World Series of Poker

96-year-old Jack Ury uses poker to stay young


Courtesy of World Series of Poker

Jack Ury, 96 of Terre Haute, Ind., continues to hold the honor as the oldest player in the World Series of Poker’s No-Limit Texas Hold ‘em Main Event. Ury, seen here on day 1B Saturday advanced to the second day of the Main Event before eventually losing to Antonio Maestro on Tuesday.

Fast facts

  • Entrants: 6,494
  • Total prize pool: $61 million
  • Winner's circle: The top 648 players will win at least $21,365, according to tournament director Jack Effel. Each of the nine players at the final table will make at least $1.26 million, with the winner claiming $8.55 million.

Poker players might not respect registration deadlines, but they certainly respect their elders.

One day after nearly 800 irate players were turned away from entering the fourth and final start day of the $10,000 buy-in No-Limit Texas Hold 'em Main Event, the poker community's outrage and threats of law suits toward the World Series of Poker turned to a touching show of respect for the oldest poker player at the WSOP.

The field of 1,476 players in the Day 2A competition at the Rio stood to a roaring applause as 96-year-old Jack Ury bowed out of the Main Event Tuesday.

A throng of fans seeking photos and autographs flocked to Ury as his 32-year-old grandson, Seth Harrold, escorted him out of the tournament in a wheelchair.

"I enjoyed it, especially because the people gave me such a good applause," Ury said. "The people were all rooting for me, I wish I could have won for them."

Ury advanced past the opening day for the third straight year, starting Tuesday with 23,075 chips.

With Ury's eyesight and hearing greatly impaired, tournament officials allowed Harrold to sit with Ury and help him stack chips and communicate with others at the table. Harrold did not look at Ury's cards, nor make bets for him.

"It's fun and I know this makes him happy," Harrold said. "Everyone at the table is respectful and he loves it. Usually we start preparing for this in March because he'll talk about it all year."

After more than two hours of play Tuesday, Ury's stack had dwindled to less than 12,000 chips when he called an all-in raise with Ace-Ten off-suit against Antonio Maestro, who had Ace-Jack off-suit.

Both players paired their Aces on the board, but Maestro took the pot with the Jack kicker and ended Ury's Main Event.

"I was sorry, you know, but that's poker," Maestro said. "It was difficult to play with him, because the game was slowed down, but we understand. I'm impressed he can play the way he does."

Everyone at the table stood up to shake Ury's hand before his celebrity-like exit.

Although Ury had million-dollar dreams like everyone else in 6,494-player field, the Terre Haute, Ind., resident took his beat in stride.

"I didn't have good cards," said Ury, who started playing poker during the Calvin Coolidge administration. "Bad luck. I'm disappointed. I may not live another year, but if I do I'll be playing."

Ury has never cashed in a WSOP event, but the 96-year-old joked that only death would keep him from the poker table.

"They say you get lucky right before you die and I'm still here," Ury said. "I haven't died yet, so my cards will come."

That hope of capturing the elusive gold bracelet might actually be the secret to Ury's long life.

"Poker is keeping him alive, without a doubt," Harrold said. "He talks about this event all year and I know he'll talk about it until he is back next year at 97."

Steve Silver can be reached at 948-7822 or [email protected].

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