By Sean Chaffin
It was the wrong day to be the guy wearing a tropical shirt on the subway. The train made an unscheduled stop and police officers pulled out the handcuffs him and shuffled him off into a squad car. New York defense attorney and ClubWPT qualifier Paul Seres (pictured) knew he had work to do. His client faced a conviction and some hefty jail time.
Seres, 53, remembers the 2016 incident well and knew his client was innocent.
“He’d never even been on a train in his life and was visiting from Delaware,” Seres recalls. “A woman got on the train and thought he was the guy that had abused her two weeks earlier on the same train. He had never even been in New York.”
After obtaining credit card receipts corroborating that he wasn’t in the state at the time and giving the man a lie detector test, his client was proven innocent.
“Ultimately the case was dismissed, but it’s just amazing how a false identification can get a guy that’s never even been in the state so jammed up,” he says. “The reason she made the misidentification is that the person who committed the crime against her was wearing a Hawaiian shirt, and when my guy got on the train he was also wearing a Hawaiian shirt. That obviously triggered something in her mind. What a nightmare for the guy.”
An expert at battling it out in the courtroom, Seres also enjoys some combat at the poker table and is among the field in the WPT Gardens Poker Festival on Day 1b. He hosts a home game back in Long Island and won his way to the Gardens after winning a qualifying tournament on ClubWPT.
The site is the tour’s sweepstakes poker site, where players can pay a small monthly subscription for a chance to win a share of $100,000 in cash and prizes each month. The site offers plenty of action and even chances to win spots in major WPT tournaments. Seres hopes his score on the site turns into something even bigger.
Courtroom to Poker Room
A native New Yorker, Seres has been playing cards for years. He and his friends play a regular game of $1/$2 No Limit Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha. He’s also a regular at casinos in the Northeast including the Borgata, Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun, and Parx. The father of four has converted his entire living room into a poker den for his weekly games.
“You know I’m divorced because no woman would let her living room like this,” he says laughing.
After a friend qualified on ClubWPT for a tour event, Seres was inspired to get in on the action and signed up a year ago. After some deep runs in some Sunday qualifiers, he made a final table two months ago but came up just short of the WPT entry package.
“I realized that if you come in fifth, you might as well come in 2,500th,” he says. “You get some points, but in regards to a trip, you get nothing. It taught me a valuable lesson, and jockeys and NASCAR racers have to know this, and that’s to time your move right. At the final table, it’s all about timing your moves.”
At five players, blinds were so big relative to the stack sizes that being the short stack still meant he could let others knock each out and have a shot at the title.
“In two hands, you can basically move to the top spot,” he says. “And that’s basically how it went when I won. I just came on hard down the stretch. I was short-stacked at fifth, fourth, and when it was three. Then when I was third I knocked out the guy who was second and I had a few more chips than the guy who was in first.”
After promising to call his friend if got heads-up, a suited Ace landed in front of Seres and his opponent moved all in just after he dialed. After some thought, he made the call. His opponent tabled King-Jack and Seres prayed his hand could hold up.
“No King, no Jack, no King, no Jack,” he said as the flop, turn, and river hit the board.
All the while, he provided commentary for his friend on the other end of the line. The hand held, and Seres was headed to the Gardens after such a close call only a month earlier.
The mistaken identity incident certainly isn’t the only interesting case Seres has been taken. As a practicing defense attorney for almost 30 years, interesting clients regularly walk through his office doors.
That’s included some lower-level people in John Gotti’s sphere. The mafia boss and former head of the Gambino crime family died in a federal prison hospital in 2002 and he’s dealt with some underlings’ drug cases and other charges.
“One good case I did for them was where a town was trying to close down a topless bar they owned,” he says. “I was part of civil litigation against the town to try and keep it open. It got settled – they had to fix some violations and pay some money in fines but it got to stay open.”
When not filing motions, reading briefs, or playing poker, this attorney can be found on the golf course or spending some time by his pool. He also supports all the New York sports teams and has been a Jets season tickets holder for 30 years.
Seres has been looking forward to his shot here in Day 1B at the Gardens. The biggest tournament he’s ever played was a $600 buy-in, so this $5,000 Main Tour event is quite a step up. He planned to play a bit tight early to get a feel for the action.
“To me, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, which is why there’s a little bit of pressure on me,” he says. “I feel like I’ve got to seize the opportunity because who knows if I’ll ever have this chance again. My biggest strategy is not to mess it up. If it’s my time and this is my destiny, I just don’t want to mess it up.
“I’m going to let the game come to me, play when the wind is at my back, and try not to make any stupid, ill-timed big bluffs. Basically, play ABC poker and hope that’s it’s my time.”
No matter the outcome, Seres loves his job and knows there will always be more business. He notes: “I’m in the one business where crime does pay.”
Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer in Crandall, Texas, and his work appears in numerous websites and publications. Follow him on Twitter @PokerTraditions.
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