Ernest Bohn came into Event #40: $1,500 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo 8 or Better, his fourth World Series of Poker tournament, with nary a recorded live cash to his name. He left it a WSOP champion with a gold bracelet and $173,228 in prize money after getting through a field of 595 players.
The long, grueling days of tournament poker can be a grind on anyone. But, a 68-year-old relative tournament novice playing a 13-hour slog on Day 3, when tournament decisions are most pressure-packed and taxing on the mind?
One could be forgive for expecting such a situation to take its toll, but Bohn said he felt right at home.
"I'm not a good sleeper anyways," he said. "If I get two hours of sleep, three hours of sleep that's enough. So, I was wide awake."
Indeed Bohn appeared to be the man with the advantage against Bill Kohler as the night wound deeper, with the two battling short-handed and then heads up for several hours. Sipping the occasional Scotch, Kohler kept things lively throughout much of the day with a relatively constant stream of chatter.
However, by the night's end, even when he had surges into the lead during heads-up play, Kohler's table talk died down as it took all of his energy just to get the proper betting amounts out. The man from Cincinnati had come second in this very event in 2009.
"He was starting to play a little loose," Bohn said. "I said, 'This is my tournament.' I picked up on it right away."
However, Bohn didn't deviate much at all from his initial game plan. He came into Day 3 looking to play a solid game, and it was a plan he executed to perfection. He didn't seem inclined to do much stealing and seemed to have it almost every time he bet strongly, with his weakest holdings at showdown being mostly strong one-pair hands and one-way low hands.
"I made up my mind," he said of his approach to Day 3. "I'm gonna play cautious, I'm not gonna chase, and I'm going to play the best hands possible. It worked."
Most of Bohn's poker experience, he said, comes from playing in a $0.50/1 home game that runs every other Friday, with much of the action coming in stud and split-pot games. He also used to put in some hours at the tables in Atlantic City, once a haven for stud players, in years past.
It turned out to be enough to conquer a final table that included multiple-bracelet winners Ted Forrest and Max Pescatori, as well as high stakes expert Justin Bonomo.
While they battled and took each other out one by one, Bohn sat quietly, grinding and listening to his "good old rock 'n roll and country" to keep himself occupied and in line.
He took the lead into heads-up play, but despite the stacks being short, Bohn and Kohler sparred for two hours until the 68-year-old took command with a series of pots in the final level before they'd have bagged to come back for an unscheduled Day 4. When it was all over, Bohn let out an excited shout after showing hardly an ounce of emotion over the course of 13 hours.
"We're both retired now, my wife and I," said the former harness racing trainer. "We've been together 46 years, and we like to travel. We're going to do a little sightseeing. I'm happy as all hell."
Event #40 Final Table Results
|1||Ernest Bohn||United States||$173,228|
|2||William Kohler||United States||$107,063|
|3||Hal Rotholz||United States||$74,200|
|4||Tim Finne||United States||$52,272|
|5||Justin Bonomo||United States||$37,441|
|7||Shannon Petluck||United States||$20,214|
|8||Ted Forrest||United States||$15,245|