Gary W. Casiday, a 54-year- old from Santa Maria who has spent the past two years battling a serious heart condition, outlasted 490 other competitors to claim first place and more than $15,000 in the 2014 Central Coast Poker Championship on Saturday at the Chumash Casino Resort.
Casiday, with a mobile defibrillator strapped to his chest and a walking cane by his side, persevered through more than 12 hours of No-Limit Texas Hold’em action and won a heads-up showdown with Lawrence Ramos, 61, of Bakersfield to win the tournament.
The champion explained that the mobile defibrillator contains sensors that will alert medical staff at Cottage Hospital if a problem is detected with his heart. “I’ve been playing poker for more than 20 years and I’ve never won a tournament, until now,” said Casiday, who won the $15,777 top prize. “This feels so good, but I’m really tired and I need to get something to eat.”
“I’m surprised it didn’t go off when I won,” Casiday quipped. “When I got to the final table, I just kept moving all in whenever I had an ace, and it worked for me. It’s amazing. I finally did it.” The tournament reached the final two competitors— Casiday and Bakersfield’s Lawrence Ramos, who played just a few hands before their final clash. Ramos raised pre-flop, Casiday moved all in and Ramos called, showing a pair of 2s. Casiday trailed with a suited ace-7 of diamonds, but the flop helped both players—Another 2 gave Ramos a set while two more diamonds handed Casiday a flush draw. The turn card was a blank, but a Queen of diamonds on the river gave Casiday the ace-high flush and the tournament title.
Chumash Casino 5/3/14 Central Coast Poker Championship No Limit HoLd’em Buy-in $180 Players 491 Prize Pool $51,071 1. Gary Casiday ...... $15,777 2. Lawrence Ramos .... $10,624 3. Ronald Freeman ..... $5,949 4. Nicholas Ronyecz ... $4,437 5. Lakhamsor Cavanh ... $3,062 6. Johan Dewitt ....... $2,719
This article was featured in our June 2nd Digital edition PDF of Poker Player Newspaper.