Just days ago, David Hatfield faced an interesting proposition. He’d just won a $10,000 seat into the World Series of Poker Main Event via a Copag contest. A simple purchase of a few decks of cards outside the tournament area came with a scratch-off ticket. Ten winners would then square off on the PokerGO WSOP set in one hand of Texas Hold'em with the winner securing a seat in the Main Event. Quickly after his win though, someone made a pretty nice offer.
“I’ll give you $9,000 for the seat,” a man behind Hatfield said, ready to pony up the cash right there.
Would he take a free $9,000 or try his luck in the biggest poker tournament in the world? For Hatfield, it was a pretty easy decision. He’s now seated on Day 1B decked out in his Copag gear and hoping the big run continues in his first-ever Main Event appearance.
“I thought for about five seconds and said no,” Hatfield said of the offer. “Just to make Day 2 on a freeroll would be really big.”.
Not many players in the Main Event field are on a freeroll. When he initially scratched off his ticket, Hatfield wasn’t quite sure if he’d actually won.
“I showed him and said, ‘It looks like a winner,’” he says. “He looked at it and goes, ‘Hey we got our first winner.’”
Visiting Las Vegas with his wife and one of his two sons, Hatfield played a few WSOP events without much luck so far. That changed with the Copag contest however, and he’s now added to that vacation for more time at the tables.
On Saturday, the winning players returned to the Horseshoe for the 10-handed, single-hand showdown. All players received their two cards and were told to keep them face down. The dealer then peeled off the flop of A-A-4. All players then turned over their cards and Hatfield and one other player took the lead, both holding a 4.
The turn and the river were then put out and Hatfield and the other player still had the best hand for what would have been a chopped pot. However, the dealer did not see this and initially said a King-high hand won, reaching to muck Hatfield’s cards. But he quickly brought the error to the dealer’s attention.
“I’ve got a four and there’s a four on the board,” he said at the time. “Don’t I have Aces and fours?”
The dealer corrected the mistake, but Hatfield now faced a second hand against the other player who had the same hand. The tension mounted even more as another hand was dealt. This time Hatfield had A-2 and caught a 2 on the flop. However, his opponent caught a 5 for a bigger pair.
With just two cards remaining, the retired manager of a sporting goods store from Sarasota, Florida, needed some help. That didn’t come on the turn. With just five outs remaining, Hatfield caught another deuce on the river for three of a kind and the $10,000 seat.
He adds simply: “I was freaking out.”
With his wife and son now at home, Hatfield extended his Sin City vacation even longer and has now been here more than two weeks. He says one of his sons doesn't quite believe that he actually won.
“He thinks I’m bullshitting him,” Hatfields says. “I sent him a picture of my (Copag) hat and he said, ‘You could buy that at the T-shirt shop.’ He’s giving me a hard time.”
The longtime poker player now has plenty of proof. He’s glad to have rejected that $9,000 offer and is looking to turn his freeroll into an even better story. The trip to Las Vegas was meant to include some WSOP events, but not necessarily the $10,000 tournament.
“I basically had to make a decision as to whether I want to play in a number of events like the seniors, the bounty, and the Millionaire Maker, with the possibility of winning something to get into the Main Event or just come pay this,” he says.
The Copag win meant he could play them all. No stranger to poker, Hatfield has been playing for years and just loves the game. What’s his strategy for Day 1?
“I go with patience and mental focus,” he says. “Those are my keys.”
Hopefully for Hatfield that pays off – and he can at least prove his son wrong. He is indeed actually a Copag winner and playing in the Main Event.