Overheard at the Seniors Event at the Borgata Winter Poker Open

Paul Oresteen
Published by:
Posted on: January 7, 2024 4:15 pm EST

The Seniors Event delayed its start this morning with a giant crowd arriving bright and early for the 10am start. It wasn’t the worst news for the crowd, as Seniors generally like to be at the table from the start. Across a sea of well-worn ball caps, plaid button-down shirts and competing Jets and Eagles jerseys, the field was alive and chatty, fueled by industrial levels of coffee.

The senior senior

After the players had settled in for a couple levels, we found George Stricker, who at 88 years-young was the most senior Senior. He got a rousing round of applause from the room and seemed happy to have the honor.

As we found Stricker, he was facing an opponent on a spicy board of 9-8-7-K-Q. He tabled A-9 for a pair of nines, his opponent said, “I missed,” and mucked his hand.

“Good,” Stricker said as he dragged the pot. His game is pricklier than his newsboy cap and thick glasses would suggest.

Music to no one’s ears

The heartbreak of Plain White T’s “Hey There Delilah” fell on deaf ears as players debated the quality of pizza across the country. “Yeah, I won’t even touch pizza out there (destination unknown), it’s a joke,” we heard a player say through a thick New York accent.

“You know, Al Pacino said in a movie that, ‘Red’s no good west of the Mississippi,’ and I tink so too,” he added. “It’s the watah.”

“There’s a bagel place in California that engineers his water with minerals to taste like New York water,” a tablemate replied.

“Meh,” the first player replied with a dismissive hand wave.

Nine players per table, sir.

A few tables away, in a particularly tight grouping of tables, a dealer called out for a floor supervisor for a clock. With none in the immediate area, the dealer became exasperated and called for a floor two more times with urgency.

“Start it yourself!,” a curmudgeon said from a nearby table. The dealer ignored the unsolicited, terrible advice and within moments a floor supervisor arrived for the countdown.

Hot tea, hotter coffee, giant tray

Cocktail servers Karen and Marcella were swamped with dozens of orders of custom coffees and teas. Karen carefully stepped her way around the intimately spaced tables, “Sorry folks, I need some help getting by. I’ve got the big tray this morning for you folks.”

The tray had no less than ten coffees, five hot teas, a couple orange juices, a soda or two and bottled water filling the spaces between.

Easy money the hard way

“So, this kid and his friend knocked on my door the other week and asked if they could do anything to make some money,” a player said to his neighbor. “I love that kind of stuff; I shoveled driveways in Queens starting at ten-years-old.”

“So, I tell these kids I got some leaves they can rake,” he said. “I take them around the yard, show them what I want done and give them a couple of rakes and gloves. I leave the dog out there with them because he’s real calm and likes to be outside.”

“So, I could do this job in a couple-a-few hours myself, but I like that kind stuff. So, I ask how much do you want?”

“They say $50 each. I say naw, I’ll give you $15 each and if the two of yous does a good job, I’ll give you each $25,” he said.

“So, I look outside ten minutes later and they’re raking good. Another ten minutes I look outside and the rakes are on the ground and they’re playing with the dog,” he said. “I look another 15 minutes later, they’re gone, the rakes are on the ground and the dog’s just laying there.”

“So, I guess these kids didn’t need money that bad.”

Speaking of the kids

Andy Santiago is basically a kid today.

The youngest Senior we could find was Andy Santiago of Yardley, PA. He checks in at a spry 50 years and four months old. He’s playing his first Seniors event and would love to final table with Stricker.

Another floorman announced to the room that their dinner break would be at approximately 4:45pm – to a warm reception. The field was happy to hear as this a one-day event and the players that make the final table have a long day ahead of them.

The tournament clock shows 670 total entrants with 342 remaining in action at the end of Level 9.

All photos by 8131 Media – Alicia Skillman