David Scheunemann
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After 18 years of playing Texas hold ’em poker in area casinos, David Scheunemann of Oceanside recently won the biggest pot of his life. Scheunemann placed fifth in the World Poker Tour Foundation’s three-day tournament at Pala Casino.

While Scheunemann wouldn’t disclose how much he earned by out-lasting 115 other players, he said, “In the mid four figures.” (The WPT website, however, indicates he raked in $6828.)

With a buy-in of $1100, anyone could have played in the tourney. Scheunemann got a free entry by winning other, smaller, satellite games at Pala.

On September 13, the top nine players from the previous two-day rounds entered into the finals. Actor and player Vince Van Patton joined them.

Scheunemann played for five and a half hours before going all in with two aces. His fellow competitor lucked out by pulling his third jack in the “river” (the final card dealt, face up).

To what does Scheunemann contribute to his success? “My good looks,” he laughed. “Really, practice and experience, and a very understanding wife.” “A supportive wife,” said wife Lori.

Most players don’t have “tells” — subtle body language or twitches as to how one is reacting to the dealt hand or bets, said Scheunemann. That’s in Hollywood movies.

“You try to read the other’s habits, watching how they bet in certain situations, ” said Scheunemann. He said he hadn’t played with many of his competitors before. “The guy that finished first [Brad Lawn of San Diego], I think he learned a few things from me. Sometimes I’d question his large bets and later he backed off a little.”

Scheunemann has some tips for amateur players: start in a smaller tournament, where the buy-in is only $25 or $50; look around the table for the “fish” (an inexperienced player most likely to be “eaten” by the more experienced) — if you can’t find the fish, it’s you; every bet should have a purpose — what do you want others players to do in response to your bet?; And the obvious advice for people who hang out in casinos, “Don’t gamble with money you can’t afford to lose.”

Another five hours later, Brad Lawn was declared the tournament winner. He walked away with his share of Pala’s guaranteed $100,000 pot — $27,305.

The WPT Foundation is the charity fundraising arm of the World Poker Tour. The Pala event presented a check for $20,000 to the Southern California Special Olympics.

The next big poker tourney in the San Diego area starts on October 22 at Oceans 11. It’s a weeklong event with a $1100 buy-in and a purse of $200,000.

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