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Poker Player to Use Oklahoma Tornado Insurance Money to Enter Vegas Tournament

David McKenna, who’s made more than $250,000 in lifetime winning in major poker tournaments, is among the victims of the devastating tornado which ripped through Oklahoma almost a week ago. But unlike some, he isn’t looking to rebuild. Instead, he’ll use some of his insurance pay-out from the tragic event to enter the $10,000 buy-in World Series of Poker main event this summer in Las Vegas.

McKenna was a resident of the small Oklahoma suburb of Moore, which was among the worst afflicted by the series of tornados which hit the mid-West between 18th and 20th May. According to Reuters, the tornado, rated at the top of a five-point scale used to measure the destructive power of these natural events, killed 24 people – including seven children, in the town.

“Obviously the damage here is pretty hard to comprehend,” President Obama said during his tour of the devastation over the weekend.

But McKenna, despite the damage wrought to his hometown, which completely obliterated his two-story, five-bedroom home that was built with some of his poker winnings, remains optimistic.

“I have been so blessed,” father of three McKenna said of the support he’s received since the tornado, adding that he will not “rebuild” but rather “start new memories,” with his girlfriend who he plans to move in with.

McKenna has never been a fulltime poker player, but in 2009, the 47-year-old veteran registered nurse came third in The River No-Limit Hold’em Main Event, netting $220,000 in the process.

He hopes now, to take some of the insurance money to enter the $10,000 buy-in World Series of Poker main event this summer in Las Vegas.

McKenna said that losing his home and possessions, leaving him with nothing but the clothes on his back and his truck, is an opportunity to start again with a clean slate. A picture of him, stoically holding the US flag in front of his former home, now reduced to nothing but rubble, has already received over 130,000 ‘Likes’ on Facebook and has been shared over 16,000.

He’ll be hoping to carry some of that momentum with him to the WSOP tournament in Vegas in August where he hopes for a dramatic change in fortune.

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Bradley Chalupski

Bradley Chalupski made his first deposit onto an online poker site in 2009 and has been paying rake and following the poker scene ever since. He received his J.D. from the Seton Hall University School of Law in 2010.