By Sean Chaffin
When Joseph Seimas looked at his computer screen in late November, he knew he’d won a $10,000 guaranteed tournament at ClubWPT. He just couldn’t figure out how much he’d won. It had been a pretty good couple of weeks for the 66-year-old poker player from Tracy, California.
The week before Seimas won what he believed was the same tournament and scored a nice $2,500. But this time a top prize wasn’t listed and the runner-up payout showed a $2,500 prize instead. He told his wife Dawn that he’d won the event, which featured 400 players, but needed to visit the ClubWPT website to find out.
“Once I figured it out I told my wife, ‘I think we’re going to Vegas,’” Seimas says. “She was happy.”
Seimas hadn’t just won any tournament, the event was a monthly final for the $200,000 ClubWPT TV Challenge. The challenge awards six seats to play in Las Vegas at the HyperX Esports Arena, filmed for TV with $50,000 going to the winner. Just making the final table guaranteed Seimas at least $10,000 in addition to a $3,000 travel package. The challenge kicked off in November and runs through April at ClubWPT.
After hearing her husband would be playing in Las Vegas on television, Dawn had one response: “You’ve got to win the $50,000.”
A ClubWPT Diamond member playing on the site since 2008, Seimas has plenty of experience online. This isn’t the first time he’s qualified for a live tournament on ClubWPT and also won a tournament in the past to play at Bay 101. That’s why he joined – for a shot to win entry into larger tournaments.
When COVID-19 made live poker impossible at times in 2020, Seimas decided to play more and become a Diamond member. That has paid dividends, but his TV Challenge win didn’t seem possible early in the tournament.
“I wasn’t doing very well in the beginning,” he says. “I lost over half my chips and then picked up Aces.”
That big hand seemed to kickstart his tournament run. He found two callers after three-betting and then added another Ace on the flop. An opponent moved all in, Seimas also went all in, and the third player called both. He picked up a huge pot and continued rolling. Entering the final table, Seimas sat fourth in chips but was able to rally, and was close to even when finally heads-up for the title.
At ClubWPT, Seimas is a regular – playing Diamond cash games daily as well as qualifiers for the big monthly tournaments. As a longtime WPT fan, having the chance to play on the television show is a dream come true. That may be the case, but Seimas is taking this opportunity seriously and plans on working on his game before heading to Vegas when the final table is announced later this year.
“I didn’t think this would ever happen, but here I am going to be on TV,” he says. “I’ve been to WPT Boot Camp in the past. I’ve also [recieved coaching] for the past two years to improve my game, and it seems to be working. I’ll probably spend some extra hours playing live games before the tournament.”
When not playing poker, the father of three works as a manufacturer’s representative for an agricultural business and covers the western United States. He learned to play poker in high school, playing Seven Card Stud and Five Card Draw with friends.
However, poker took a backseat when he and Dawn started a family. It was some TV time with his daughter that led to a return to the poker felt.
“One day my daughter Valerie was home from college and watching poker on TV,” he says. “I had never heard of Texas Hold’em, but told [my family] I was sure I could do very well. So I decided to read a book on Texas Hold’em.”
After finishing the book in 2005, Seimas heard on the radio that a World Series of Poker Circuit event was headed to Lake Tahoe. He played in a qualifying event and came in fourth. He didn’t win a seat but had a great experience – and was hooked on poker.
Seimas is now a regular at Casino Real, Bay 101, and Sycuan Casino in California as well as Peppermill in Reno. Some of his agricultural customers gave him the nickname “Cowboy Joe” – fitting for a poker player who works in farming.
What does this cowboy plan on doing with his recent winnings? Poker comes to mind, but this family man has some other ideas as well.
“I plan to play [more major tournaments] and a World Poker Tour tournament,” he says, “and then go on a cruise with my beautiful wife.”
Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer in Crandall, Texas, and his work appears in numerous websites and publications. Follow him on Twitter @PokerTraditions.