While the New York Giants emerged from the Valley this month as Super Bowl victors in spite of overwhelming odds, one Maricopa man beat a similarly stacked deck to propel himself to poker’s Super Bowl: the World Series of Poker Main Event.
A celebrity poker tournament hosted by former Arizona Diamondback Royce Clayton Super Bowl weekend at the Harrah’s Ak-Chin Resort and Casino made a winner out of Maricopa resident Jeromy McMahon. The computer software engineer beat a room full of athletes, celebrities, professional poker players and other area residents to gain a seat at the World Series of Poker’s Main Event in July at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
For McMahon, who has been playing poker off and on for the past five years, getting a chance to play with some of his childhood idols proved a memorable experience.
“Back in 1986, when I was playing Little League, I always wanted to be Jose Canseco and then there he was playing poker with me,” said McMahon of the former Major League Baseball star who made it to the final table.
McMahon overcame efforts from professional poker players, such as Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, Jamie Gold and Chandler resident Robert Williamson III – a man whom McMahon had lost to on multiple occasions in the past.
“As long as you get the cards, you should be fine,” he said. “If you have a good hand, you have to play the cards the way they are, but it was a little intimidating going against those guys.”
A bigger fan of blackjack, McMahon said he got into playing poker and other card games because of his skills with numbers.
When it comes to the World Series of Poker Main Event, however, it is a different set of numbers that worry him.
“When you are talking about thousands of people, it is a whole different ball game,” said McMahon of the close to 10,000 entrants that will take part in this year’s WSOP Main Event.
He said he will prepare by playing in some of the other WSOP events that kick off in March and will continue to research pot odds to get himself mentally ready to take on the world’s best this summer.
In addition to McMahon, Maricopa residents Troy Towne (fourth) and Lucky Sanderlin (sixth) place in the Top 10 of the Harrah’s event. It raised more than $40,000 for the Royce Clayton Foundation, which works to promote education, help homeless children, provide aid for battered women, develop athletic opportunities for minority youth and raise awareness for sickle cell anemia.