LAS VEGAS – (May 29, 2015) – Brandon Barnette, a poker supervisor from Corona, Calif., called his wife, at home with their four-month-old son, on Friday, May 29 around 1:00a.m. to tell her he had won it all. Brandon emerged from the kickoff event of the 2015 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas the champion with total winnings of $75,704 after beating 687 competitors. The victory marked the Pechanga Resort & Casino poker supervisor’s first gold bracelet win.
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“I’m looking at the bracelet in my hand right now,” said Barnette about 12 hours after defeating his last opponent, Greg Seiden of Las Vegas. “I can’t believe it’s here. It really hasn’t hit me yet and the whole thing is really surreal.” Barnette and Seiden had been dealers in WSOP events in previous years, 2010 and 2012 for the 29-year old Barnette.
After two days of serious competition in the Casino Employees event, Barnette made it to the final table of nine as the leader. As other players dropped off and the contest came down to just he and Seiden, several hands rattled his nerves. Despite coming in the table’s chip leader, he was down to $200,000 while his opponent held onto $3.2 million. He says his challenger got “sick” cards in the river, amazingly good hands aligned with his skill that allowed him to take the lead.
“I knew I needed to fight my way back over the course of the next few hands. I just stayed confident and it worked out for me.” Barnette fought, going all-in several times, and finally won the whole tournament with a full house.
After getting a few hours of sleep on Friday morning, Barnette stepped in front of the cameras again for the official bracelet ceremony that afternoon. “This is such a blessing for me and my family,” he said. Barnette’s family life during the last year mirrors the coaster of emotions from the two-day poker competition. He was married in May 2014, welcomed his first son in January, he and his wife moved out of his in-laws house and into their first house together in Corona in April and now the win at the WSOP.
The Casino Employees tournament is not his first world championship, however. Barnette is a former Team USA roller hockey player with three international titles. He says before he started at Pechanga Resort & Casino just over two years ago, he was on the verge of moving to France to compete on the professional roller hockey circuit with many more fans in Europe. He cites the recruitment deals not working out to his liking that made him stay in Southern California. He landed a job as a poker dealer at the Pechanga Poker Room and within a year, he was promoted to a supervisor role.
“He’s a great person, and a great employee,” says Pechanga Poker Room Manager, Richie Lopez. “Though he did only ask me for the time off to compete about two weeks before the event. He came to me and was really confident about asking for the days. He said he was going to win this WSOP event. And he did!”