By Sean Chaffin
Not many players can say they won the first WPT event they ever played. For Aaron Van Blarcum (pictured), that notion became a reality in on September 5. The winner of the WPT Legends of Poker, the second stop in Season XVIII, is now in the field on Day 1b of the WPT Borgata Poker Open for his second event.
“It finally sunk in over the last week,” he says of his win of $474,390. “My friends and family were super excited. I haven’t played in a lot of tournaments so now that I’ve started playing in them, the last few I’ve actually done pretty well.”
That is certainly true. Along with his WPT win at the Bicycle Casino, Van Blarcum also played in his first World Series of Poker Main Event this summer and finished 212th for $50,855. After that success, he decided to play more tournaments with bigger payouts and fields, and the Legends of Poker fit the bill.
The Legends win vaulted Van Blarcum from just over $72,000 in lifetime live tournament winnings to more than $500,000 and he’s also now a WPT champion. The win seemed even more unlikely considering he started as the short stack at the final table.
A big EDM (electronic dance music) and techno music fan, much of his travel schedule focuses on festivals. He and some friends from the Miami area even hit a festival in Ibiza, an island in the Mediterranean Sea off the east coast of Spain, over the summer.
Beyond music and festivals, poker is his main interest away from work. He is a regular cash game player and a regular at Oklahoma casinos. Traveling is a major part of his interest in music festivals and his new focus on tournament poker also complements that love of travel
A few friends made the trip to the East Coast with Van Blarcum. As a lifelong Dallas Cowboys fan, the trip to Atlantic City also offered an opportunity for some football.
“I’m trying to travel a lot more as I get older, and poker tournaments help a lot,” he says. “They give me a reason to be here besides just traveling. We came here and then we drove down to Washington D.C. to watch the Cowboys game yesterday.”
Now his name adorns the Champions Cup and he earned a $15,000 entry into the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions. Van Blarcum is also the leader in the Hublot WPT Player of the Year race with 1,200 points, just ahead of WPT Gardens Poker Festival champion Roger Teska.
The structures and chance at big payouts are what originally attracted the 43-year-old to the WPT. He’s hoping that continues here at the Borgata Poker Open.
“Whenever you do get down to that final table, I want to win real money,” he says. “I’d rather really get paid if you make it to the final table.”
After scoring almost a half-million dollars, Van Blarcum didn’t make any big purchases – just putting it in the bank for savings and more poker. Back in Dallas, Van Blarcum works as an auto leasing agent. His boss has been quite understanding about his poker life and worked with him so that the new WPT champion could chase his poker dreams. Van Blarcum does some of his work while on the road and now has more WPT events on his schedule to chase the Player of the Year title.
“I’m going to play all the rest of them this year,” he says, “and just kind of see what happens.”
Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer in Crandall, Texas, and his work appears in numerous websites and publications. Follow him on Twitter @PokerTraditions.