January 31, 2011

AUSTRALIA: Grandfather wins poker crown

MELBOURNE / The Age / Culture / January 31, 2011

By Lorna Edwards

WHEN David Gorr shows up for work at his city insurance company today, it's a fair bet he will have the best story in the office about what he got up to at the weekend.

The 68-year-old Malvern grandfather just happened to defeat a field of 721 to win $2 million in the world's second-richest poker tournament, the Crown Aussie Millions, in Melbourne yesterday.

Along with the cash prize, Gorr walked away with a diamond-encrusted gold bracelet and the sort of bragging rights that poker players travel the world in the hope of winning.

David Gorr  Photo: Angela Wylie

But the massive pay day didn't diminish the computer analyst-programmer's work ethic.

''I will be at work during the day as it would be silly for me not to pop in tomorrow,'' he said.

''I haven't missed a day of work since 1976.''

Indeed, stamina and discipline both played starring roles in his victory. The tournament ran for seven days and when he reached the final table, which began on Saturday at 12.30pm, he was one of just eight contenders.

Gorr, who was low in chips, fought his way through to the final two, with young British player James Keys his opponent. And if the possibility of a $2 million payout wasn't enough pressure, there was the spectacle of it.

The two finalists were ushered into a purpose-built film set at Crown Casino from from where the play-off was broadcast. It was watched live by 500 spectators and attracted a worldwide audience on the internet.

Undaunted, Gorr then calmly earned the winner's trophy and the cash prize. Speaking afterwards, he said his health was part of the secret to his success.

He said while younger players were generally more mentally alert, he took no medication and kept himself fit by running - something he had done for the past 30 years.

''If you are not right on the game and you smoke and you are not fit and eat the wrong foods, then I think you are not as good as you can be at the table,'' he said.

With only one previous big win at an Adelaide tournament in 1996, Gorr decided to change tactics. ''I used to be a conservative player and I would wait for the better hands to play but to win tournaments you have to mix your game up and play a variety of different hands.''

Gorr was remarkably relaxed about the prize yesterday as he pondered how to celebrate with all his family and friends.

He said he was financially established, so most of the money would go towards helping out his two children and five grandchildren.

''I could buy another car, which I probably won't do, and I could go on a couple of extra holidays but that's the only difference it would make to me,'' he mused.

Then another idea popped up.

''I might just go to a few extra poker tournaments overseas, actually.''

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