Yancy Gordley appears on ESPN’s World Series of Poker –
By Mark Carpenter –
“Hey look, Yancy Gordley is on ESPN!” That was the cry that spread around Peebles last month as local resident Yancy Gordley suddenly popped up on television screens. Gordley was in Las Vegas participating in the World Series of Poker, and happened top be at one of the network’s featured tables, which meant that his poker game and “poker face” were broadcast worldwide.
How did a fellow from Peebles end up sitting at a featured table on ESPN in Las Vegas at the World Series of Poker? Well, it all began right back here in Adams County with a group of guys who meet monthly for some pretty competitive poker.
“There’s a group of guys around here in Peebles and we get together once a month to play poker and we keep a point system,” said Gordley. “After 10 tournaments, whoever is leading in the points gets a trip to the World Series of Poker in Vegas. This is the ninth year we have done it, so there have been eight guys go before me., but I’m the only one who actually made it to ESPN.”
“Going into our final tournament here, I was in fourth place and the guys ahead of me went out and that opened the door for me to win it all. It’s $10,000 to play in the World Series of Poker and my buy-in and travel expenses are paid for through the money we raise from our group.”
Next came the trip to Vegas and the Rio Casino which left Gordley with many stories to tell and many memories to keep.
“I got out there and had no clue what to expect,” he says. “ESPN has made it popular and there were actually 7,800 players this year with three different starting dates. I started on the second day and they just assign you a table and a seat number and there is a lot of security. There were three giant rooms full of players, maybe 1,000 tables, but they have three featured tables that they use on ESPN. I get my seat assignment and John Hesp, who got fourth last year is the guest speaker to get things started. He’s from England and is very popular in the poker world. The seat next to me is open and I’m thinking that someone didn’t show up, and when Hesp finishes he walks towards our table and took the seat right next to me. You start playing at 11 in the morning and play until 11 at night which is pretty intense.”
“The tournament lasts for two weeks so the longer you stay in, it can be pretty brutal with 12-hour days. I sat next to Hesp for five hours and the guy on the other side of me was a poker pro, and found out soon that most of the guys at my table were pros, so I’m thinking ‘Oh boy’. Well, here comes ESPN around our table asking questions and doing little bios of each player and they moved us to the main table. They usually replace all the amateurs like me with pros but I got to stay at the table because I was the chip leader at the time. Once we got on TV, they had cameras all around that could zoom in on you and camera behind you that are cloaked in black so you can’t see them. We played for three hours on TV and went back to our regular table and I was with Hesp for almost 12 hours.”
As soon as Gordley realized he was going on television, he immediately contacted people back home and told them to switch their sets to ESPN. “Who’d ever though the first person from Peebles to be on ESPN would be me”, Gordley quipped.
Gordley made it into the next day before he finally ended up being eliminated.
“I was dealt a pair of jacks and I went all in and a guy called me and he had pocket aces. When they flipped the cards out, there was another jack so I had three of a kind against his pair, but the next card was an ace which put me out. If you make it three full days you are guaranteed $15,000 but I didn’t make it quite that far. No one from our Peebles group has yet to make the money.”
One of the things that a viewer can see in the TV broadcast is all of the mental tricks that each player brings, trying to bluff or intimidate opponents, the sunglasses, the deathly stares, the hoods to cover faces. Gordley appeared to the word wearing sunglasses, but not to give himself any kind of mental edge.
“The reason I wore the sunglasses was simply because all the television lights were so bright (John Hesp said I looked like a hitman). One of the guys next to me gave me about a three-minute stare during one of our games, trying to get a read on me and how I might be betting. TV always just shows the real intense moments, but realistically, everyone is around the table laughing and joking.”
“The dealer had an earpiece in where he could talk to the ESPN people and when you are dealt your cards you had to show your cards to the camera that is actually in the poker table, so you raise your cards up and the camera can see them and that’s how they put them on the screen. If you didn’t do it right, the dealer would tell you.”
Gordley laughs when he recalls the bio info that the network came up with on him.
“They talked about being from Peebles, the town’s population, and then mentioned the Cedar Trails Nudist Camp, a little humor for the broadcasters I presume after their Google search. Maybe they will sponsor us next year.”
“Overall, the experience was just great,” Gordley continues. “As a poker player, it was like a bucket list thing for me to do. You get to see all the pros in action and actually sit and play with them. It’s one thing to watch them play, another to be at the table with them. I got up to over 100,000 in chips at one time and then a guy with a full house did a number on my chips.”
The 2018 World Series of Poker was won by John Cynn, who took home a near $9 million dollar purse.