New Jersey police officer and poker player Brian Keane entered the World Series of Poker Main Event on a unique freeroll. He co-hosts the Nerdthusiast Poker Podcast with fellow Garden State police officer Anthony Cicali, and both were contestants on the CBS game show Lingo earlier this year. The pair went on to cash in for $83,000 on the show and were determined to use some of those bucks to buy into the Main Event.
“Anthony luckboxed his way into winning a satellite seat, and I wound up selling a couple pieces and doing a couple swaps,” Keane says. “So I’m just parlaying that (Lingo) money and hoping to turn it into gold.”
Keane put in $5,000 of his own money and played in his first-ever Main Event on Thursday. He moved on to Day 2 and was seated in the Horseshoe on Saturday before his run finally came to an end. After a rough start on the first day, he’s hoping to turn his fortunes around during his second day of action.
“I didn't really have much going and came in kind of short today,” he said on Saturday. “But the experience is great, just seeing the excitement and all the players. The table talk was good. Everyone was friendly with one another.”
After coming into Saturday with 46,000 in chips, Keane was able to spin that up to 101,000 in the first two hours of play. He was stepping softly a bit, however, as the UK’s Benny Glaser was seated at his table to his left. Glaser has $7.1 million in live tournament winnings and won his fifth bracelet this summer after taking down the $10,000 Limit 2-7 Lowball Triple Draw Championship for $311,428. Keane enjoyed the challenge and experience of competing against Glaser.
“He's a phenomenal player,” Keane said. “I’ve really got to pick my spots because he's opening and three-betting a lot. But it's cool. I love it.”
The Lingo appearance came after Keane and Cicali applied a couple years ago for another game show. They never heard back, but the producers contacted them out of the blue last year about possibly appearing on a new show. That turned out to be Lingo, hosted by RuPaul.
Before appearing on the show, the two friends went through multiple interviews over several months. After officially getting the call, Keane and Cicali were off to Manchester, England, to compete. Lingo dates back to the original version in 1987 and featured teams of two competing against each other to decipher a series of word puzzles. Cicali and Keane proved to be savvy players and triumphed and landed $41,500 each.
“It was incredible, surreal,” Keane says of their appearance. “Anthony was actually really nervous. He won't admit it, but he was so anxious the whole day and usually the roles are reversed where I have high anxiety. But I was so chill because I was just like, ‘This is great. Let's just enjoy it.’”
Despite getting eliminated, Keane was pleased to just be part of the action in the WSOP Main Event. Lingo certainly played a role in making that happen.
“It’s an incredible opportunity because I wouldn't have paid my own way if I didn't have that extra scratch from the winnings on the show.”