When the $1,500 Monster Stack at the 2016 World Series of Poker bagged up after Day 3, 26 players remained from a field of 6,927. A couple of those players were two old guns, TJ Cloutier and Donnacha O’Dea, both legends of the game looking to make more poker history.
“I bet I’m the oldest one left,” Cloutier said with a laugh after bagging up a stack of 4.6 million.
For 76-year-old Cloutier, an old school Texas road gambler who’s won six gold bracelets, it was a chance to return to WSOP glory.
“Hell no, it’s the same thing,” Cloutier said when asked if he felt the game has passed him by. “It’s a miracle I’m here, though. Today I held jacks four times, and they held up three times and one time they didn’t. I held queens once, but I never held aces or kings. I finally got ace-king on one of the last hands and won that, but that was about it. I set the traps all day long.”
For Irish legend O’Dea, he’s chasing his second WSOP gold bracelet after having won his only one in 1998.
“I would be very happy, absolutely,” O’Dea said about the chance to win his second gold bracelet. “That would be a good thrill. To even get to the last table, it’s nice. It’s sort of a strange thing; the only two last tables I’ve been to in no-limit hold’em at the World Series is in the Main Event. I’d like to make the final table and take it from there.”
In 1983, O’Dea made the WSOP Main Event final table and took sixth for $43,200. In 1991, he took ninth in the WSOP Main Event for $17,250.
“I’m more of a cash-game player, as people probably know,” O’Dea pointed out. “The only place I play tournaments is in Vegas. I mainly play two or three hold’em tournaments to get in shape for the Main Event. I think they’re very tough as you get older because you’re moving tables all the time and the concentration, you’re actually tired. But it’s been fun.”
Going forward to Day 4 of the Monster Stack event, O’Dea bagged up 2.9 million in chips, good for 17th overall, whereas Cloutier’s stack put him in eighth position on the leaderboard.
Another area where Cloutier has one-upped O’Dea is WSOP Main Event final table appearances, as Cloutier has four in his career to O’Dea’s two. In 1985, Cloutier took second for $280,000. In 1988, he scored fifth for $63,000. In 1998 and 200, he made the final table again, placing third for $437,500 and second for $896,500, respectively.
“You know, the greatest thing about poker if you do it for a living like I have for a lot of years, is that it doesn’t matter what happens to your body because you’ve still got your brain,” Cloutier said in regards to the ability to still be able to play after over these years. “And the main thing about it is that it can help you from getting Alzheimer’s because you’ve got to use your brain.”
“Just because I’m getting older, I don’t feel like throwing in the towel,” O’Dea said about his play these days. “It’s nice to have a good run, get in the money. Last year, I played my usual six [tournaments] and I didn’t cash. Some people maybe play 20 and don’t cash, but I’m sort of like, ‘this isn’t good enough.’ I think I’ve played four now and cashed in two.”