Dewey Tomko UsA

Dewey Tomko

Dewey grew up in Glassport, Pa., a hamlet 15 miles outside Pittsburgh. As a child he played pinochle with his parents, but not poker. Later he learned that one of his grandfathers had been a professional gambler. Around age 8, he began playing blackjack for bottles against other neighborhood kids, and as a teen he became a caddy at a golf course, where the card games continued and the stakes grew, often losing all the money he just made caddying. By his teens, Dewey was playing poker at pool halls and winning more than he lost, and the earnings staked him through four years at salem College in West Virginia. several of his fraternity buddies found jobs in Florida after their graduation, and Dewey was visiting them in 1969 when he was offered a job as a kindergarten teacher in Haines City.

For the next six years, Dewey taught school by day and played poker by night. He honed his game at Winter Haven's Moose Lodge, and he crisscrossed the state to join high-stakes tables. The double life took its toll, sometimes Dewey arrived home from a distant card game just in time for school. Kindergarten teachers were encouraged to join their students on the floor for afternoon naps, and when parents arrived to pick up their children, they often found him dozing with the children. A skilled teacher who had a good rapport with the children, he was only making $6,000 a year as a teacher. The teaching actually started costing him too much money. Dewey was making $4,000 to $5,000 a night at poker, leaving games with $1000 in the pot to go teach. Once he devoted himself fully to poker, he established himself as one of the nation's best players. He became known for his fierce concentration, wearing earmuffs at the poker table and, more recently, earplugs.

Eventually Dewey's poker obsession took a backseat when he married in the early 1970s and became the father of three boys Derek, David and Drew. He scaled back on his poker, playing only in a few events each year and becoming a "human taxicab" for his kids. separating his family and his profession, he refused even to have a deck of cards in his home.

With his sons grown, Dewey returned to full-time poker about five years ago and made an immediate impression, coming one card short of winning the World series of Poker in 2001. The second-place finish in Las Vegas yielded his biggest payoff yet, $1,098,000.

Weird or not, poker has propelled Dewey on a life's journey he says is free of regrets. Cards carried him from a modest childhood to ownership of golf courses and casinos and to his current status as a poker patriarch who plays cards because he wants to, not because he needs to. Dewey has made as much money on side games as in tournaments and estimates his official career earnings at $10 million.

WsOP Main Event:

Dewey holds the record for consecutive entries to the WsOP Main Event, 2005 marks the 30th straight year that he will play in the $10,000 buy-in championship event. Twice the runner up there, the river has not been kind to Dewey. In both occasions the hand the World Championship was won and lost on, Dewey was in front only to have victory snatched away on the river. In 1982 Jack straus caught a higher pair on the river, and in 2001 Carlos Mortensen made a straight on the river, crushing Dewey's pocket rockets.

In his own words:

"That's the only thing I can do, I can't change a light bulb. They say God gives all of us one thing we can do, and I'm glad I was able to figure out mine was playing poker."

"When you lose, the agony of defeat is much greater than the joy of winning, You never learn nothing when you win. You learn when you lose. Poker gives you character. You can't win every hand; you have to be able to accept losing."

"For 15 straight years, I either played poker or slept," he said. "I didn't know who the president of the United states was."

Career Highlights:

Event Date Place Winnings
2005 Five Diamond World Poker Classic IV
No-Limit Hold'em Championship
$15,000 buy-in
12/12/2005 61st $24,150
2005 Five Diamond World Poker Classic IV
No-Limit Hold'em
$2,500 buy-in
12/6/2005 26th $3,835
2005 UltimateBet Aruba Poker Classic
No-Limit Championship
$5,000 buy-in
9/26/2005 70th $6,000
2005 36th Annual World series of Poker
No-Limit Two to seven Draw Lowball (Event 39)
$5,000 buy-in
7/5/2005 3rd $138,160
2005 36th Annual World series of Poker
No-Limit Hold'Em (Event 33)
$3,000 buy-in
7/1/2005 33rd $9,755
2005 36th Annual World series of Poker
Pot-limit Hold'em (Event 3)
$1,500 buy-in
6/4/2005 78th $2,215
2005 Third Annual Five-star World Poker Classic
No-Limit Hold'em Championship
$25,000 buy-in
4/18/2005 22nd $56,615
2004/2005 WsOP Circuit Event - Harrah's Rincon
No-Limit Hold'em
$1,500 buy-in
2/25/2005 1st $50,280
2005 L.A. Poker Classic
No-Limit Hold'em
$2,500 buy-in
2/16/2005 24th $4,874
2005 The sixth Annual Jack Binion World Poker Open
No-Limit Hold'em
$3,000 buy-in
1/22/2005 15th $10,797
2004 World Poker Finals
No-Limit Hold'em Championship
$10,200 buy-in
11/14/2004 35th $28,308
2004 35th Annual World series of Poker
No-Limit Hold'em World Championship
$10,000 buy-in
5/22/2004 225th $10,000
2004 35th Annual World series of Poker
Limit Hold'em
$5,000 buy-in
5/17/2004 27th $6,000
2004 35th Annual World series of Poker
seven Card stud World Championship
$5,000 buy-in
5/13/2004 8th $20,300

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