By Sean Chaffin
Kevin McCormack (pictured) may spend three to five nights a week at the Gardens, but is adamant that he’s still a recreational player. He has a day job at a staffing company and is a regular at the Gardens – parlaying a penchant for smaller-stakes tournaments into some nice scores over the last year.
“I used to play online a lot about eight years ago,” he says. “Then I quit cold turkey and came back about 12 months ago. It’s been a good year. None of my wins are even tracked online. They’re all dailies for maybe $5,000 each. I’ve won the Friday night tournament three times in the last year.”
“I work 40 hours a week and come here about 40 hours a week. I live about 10 minutes away.”
McCormack now brings his skills to the WPT Gardens Poker Festival and hopes the nice streak continues. He makes his way into the event by way of the property’s Satellite Spectacular, which allows tournament players to accumulate and qualify for a $20 tournament.
The Spectacular awards entries into WPT events, including the championship here at the Gardens. Players earn points for entering and cashing in the property’s regular tournaments. The top five finishers earned entries into the WPT Gardens Poker Festival.
Starting chip stacks are determined by the number of points accumulated, and McCormack wasn’t near the top when cards got in the air.
“I came in at the bottom because I’ve been playing a lot of little tournaments at the Bike over the last couple months,” he says. “I just crushed through it for eight hours. I got down to the final table and people just kept folding.”
During the day McCormack recruits nurses for his company but gets away to play some cards at night. McCormack plays some cash games as well and really enjoys jumping in tournaments around the $150 to $500 range. He now has a chance a much bigger score, and bagged 93,300 on Day 1a.
“It’s been going pretty well – a lot of small pots, nothing big,” he says.
The Gardens has become one of his favorite places to play, and his efforts are paying off. He also likes the camaraderie among players and he knew many in the Satellite Spectacular.
“There’s a good group of regulars here,” he says. “There’s probably about 100 people that play here three, four, or five days a week.”
He adds about the property: “It’s beautiful, it’s great, and it’s local. And the chairs are real nice.”
In the rare hours he’s not working or playing cards, McCormack’s hobbies include playing any kind of game involving numbers or strategy. Betting on horses is also an occasional pursuit. He was drawn to televised poker while studying political science at the University of California-Santa Barbara, and played a lot from 2008 to 2010 before taking a sabbatical from the game.
Poker has become a nice hobby, not a full-time occupation. He’s pleased with that arrangement and plans to keep it that way.
“Now poker is super comfortable because there’s no stress,” he says. “It’s all fun.”
Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer in Crandall, Texas, and his work appears in numerous websites and publications. Follow him on Twitter @PokerTraditions.