A few months ago we posted an article on up and coming poker players from around the world that were under the age of 25. Following the Poker Boom, the face of poker became younger and younger to the point where it seemed that only the young man can compete in the modern poker world.
Has poker evolved in recent years to the point where only the young have a reasonable expectation to win? To examine this point, just take a look at the World Series of Poker. The WSOP is often considered the showcase of poker elites. As such, if poker is a young man’s game, they should be taking the majority of the titles right? Let’s find out if that’s indeed the case.
Young Man’s Game? The Seniors Beg To Differ
If poker is a young man’s game, then tell me why the Seniors Championship has outdrawn every other event outside of the Millionaire Maker and the Colossus. The Seniors Championship set yet another record with 4,499 players taking to the felt last week. That is nearly twice as many as every other non-gimmick event on the WSOP schedule. (The Colossus and Milly Maker are designed to draw insane crowds.)
Over the last few years, Seniors have come out in droves to play at the WSOP and prove that this game is not just a game for the young. No other event has enjoyed the consistent year-over-year growth that the Seniors Event enjoyed from 2004 through 2014. The field has more than doubled since 2008 and odds are it will continue to grow.
So Do the Super Seniors
The Super Seniors Event was created in 2015 to give players age 65 and older an opportunity to compete against players their own age. Last year, the event drew 1,533. This year, the numbers dipped slightly but it still drew 1,476 players. The final table included WSOP bracelet winner Fred Berger and heads-up was a spirited contest between eventual winner James Moore and Charles Barker.
We often hear that poker tournaments are tougher on the older generation due to the physical and time requirements. Well, an average of 1,500 players the last two years have proved that there’s still plenty of poker to be played in one’s golden years.
Oh, Did We Already Forget About Last Year’s Main Event?
If you needed proof that “Anyone Can Win” at the World Series of Poker, just take a look at last year’s November Nine. Two members of the final table were age 60 and older. At just 72 years young, Pierre Neuville was cheered on by many including our own Jennifer Newell as he navigated his way to a 7th place finish.
However, it was 61-year-old Neil Blumenfeld that would surprise the poker world as he found a way to make it to the final day and eventually finished in 3rd for $3.39 million.
How About 2016? The Young’uns are Dominating Right? Not So Much
Through 32 events, only 3 of 29 bracelet winners (we have three repeat winners) are 25 and under. Only 9 of 29 are under 30. That’s a little less than 32% of 2016 winners. One stat that we do find interesting is that there are as many bracelet winners 40 and older this summer as there are under 25.
Of course, in all fairness two of those wins by the over-40 crowd are the Seniors and Super Seniors champions. Even removing those wins, that’s still 7 bracelet winners over 40.
Only one bracelet winner, Alan Percal, is under 25. So far this year, it seems that the 30-somethings are dominating the bracelet counts.
Erik Seidel Isn’t Exactly a Spring Chicken
Finally, if there is one player that is the standard-bearer for the older generation, it is Poker Hall of Famer Erik Seidel. Believe it or not, Seidel is 56 and will turn 57 later this year.
Looking at his stats, Seidel has won $18.7 of his $29.1 million in lifetime earnings after turning 50. He is a former #1 on Poker’s All-Time Money List and is presently #2 overall. He also has eight WSOP bracelets.
Now before you say it, we know that many of his scores in recent years have come via High Roller events. However, considering that those events are riddled with elite poker pros, his accomplishments at his age are even more impressive.
Seniors Stats:— WSOP (@WSOP) June 20, 2016
Average player age: 60.79
Oldest player: Herman Moonves (95 years, 10 days)
4,068 US players
431 Non-US players
Give the Young Credit Where Due But Age is Still Just a Number
There are advantages to being young that we cannot deny. Those of us that are 35 and older know our limitations compared to when we were in our early 20’s. However, the advantages of youth don’t seem to be impacting the game like they were in the years following the Poker Boom.
At the same time, we have to remember that some of the younger players that were around at the start of the Poker Boom are now some of the 30 and 40-somethings that are taking down many of the titles mentioned earlier. Also, there is just so much information out there that one can use to improve their game, older players can take the extra time and still learn enough to be competitive.
Poker is a lot like the Toby Keith song “As Good as I Once Was.” Some of us may be a little older and may not have exactly the same stamina as the younger players. However, thanks to the great equalizer known as poker, we may not be as good as we once were but we’re still as good once as we ever were.