Henry Gill stuffed the cash in an envelope and stuck it in the safe. He told his wife that when he retired in two years, he wanted to live out a dream and play in the World Series of Poker Main Event. After years of working as a general contractor including many concrete projects, that finally happened in December. At age 68, Gill left work behind and then advanced to Day 4 in his first attempt in the tournament. On Monday, Gill ultimately hit the rail in 957th for a cash of $22,500.

“Lucky,” he said of his performance during the action on Day 4. “I just got lucky. You’ve got to get lucky to win this.”

That envelope of cash came from some occasional extra jobs that weren’t part of his regular work. Over a couple years, that money went into the Main Event fund until he had enough and then filled up the envelope.

“It’s been a little bucket list to play the Main Event,” he said. “I don’t play cash, I just play little tournaments. I do a lot of jobs on the side. I have equipment, backhoes and trackhoes. People would call me, ‘Hey, can you come dig a pond for me?’ And I’d go dig a pond and they’d pay me $3,000 or $4,000 and I’d put it in an envelope. I saved up $10,000 and put it in the safe. I told my wife, ‘Don’t touch that envelope, that’s my buy-in for the Main Event.’”

The native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, now has more than $100,000 in live tournament winnings dating back to 2006. That includes some final table appearances in smaller events along the Gulf Coast.

Since retiring, Gill and his wife have made a few trips to Montana and South Dakota. However, he had to remind her that the greenbacks in the envelope are off limits for travel money after she inquired about the cash in the safe.

“I had some extra money,” he says. “I said, ‘You take whatever you want, but don't touch that envelope.’”

Gill’s son was playing the $777 Lucky 7s event on Sunday and his wife flew in Saturday after he bagged on Thursday. He’s pleased with how things progressed overall.

“I feel blessed,” he said. “I got a few hands. I got down to about 75,000 (on Saturday) but I built it back up. I had pocket Queens and got two callers with Ace-King and Ace-Jack, but a Queen came. So that kind of tripled me up.”

This contractor may be used to building houses, but was constructing a bigger chip count at the Horseshoe. The finish helped add a nice bullet point to his poker career.

“My goal is just to make the money,” he says. “To me that would be awesome.”

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WSOP, 2023 WSOP, WSOP 2023, Henry Gill