The World Series of Poker Main Event means a lot of things to a lot of people – for those deep in the poker world it’s pretty much another day at the office at the busiest time of the year. For others, the Main Event is a bucket list item – talked about among friends in home games across the country, a dream of playing with the best in the world. Tom O’Meara from suburban Atlanta shared the dream of playing in the Main Event and put it on his bucket list last year.
But O’Meara never got his chance to play.
O’Meara was an active recreational poker player that played in home and bar games all around the city when he had the chance. He made a close group of friends over 15 years ago through a tennis league. When the poker boom hit O’Meara and his friends began a regular home game that grew into them becoming regulars with the Atlanta Poker Club – the city’s largest rec league.
O’Meara had plans of playing the Main Event this year, but in 2016 O’Meara developed pancreatic cancer. The disease moved quickly and O’Meara passed away earlier this year, but not before he paid his bucket list forward and changed the lives of his five closest friends.
Milos Tzimourtas was a close friend of O’Meara and was in Australia earlier this year when he received a call that visibly still shakes him when bringing it up. O’Meara knew he was at the end and changed his will to put five friends into the Main Event this year.
“Well most of us were longtime friends – we live in the same subdivision and met during tennis,” said Tzimourtas. “We caught the poker bug and we all played together.”
“When he knew the end was coming he called all of us individually,” said Tzimourtas. “He said ‘I’m buying you into the Main Event’ and I was like ‘What are you talking about?’
“Tom always wanted to play the Main Event – it was his bucket list item. We kept saying, ‘Yeah, yeah we’ll go,’ and last year he contracted pancreatic cancer. Of course, we told him we were going to go, but he didn’t make it.”
Tzimourtas and his friends are all playing on Day 1B. Steve Pavlichek, Keren Jackson, Jerry Hanes and John Nicol are tweeting with the hashtag #WSOPTeamOMeara for their friends to follow the action.
“He felt kind of cheated by life,” said Pavilcheck. “The Main Event was his bucket list all the way until the end.”
“We were playing a couple times a week,” said Pavilchek. “We had our night we all went out and played with APC together. I ran a neighborhood home game that’s ran for a few years.”
“We’re here to enjoy the experience – I’m enjoying it for him and me. It’s what he would have wanted. My viewpoint is that if we happen to cash then it’s just gravy,” said Tzimourtas. “It’s not expectation, but it’s all our goal.”
Follow #WSOPTeamOMeara on Twitter throughout the Main Event to follow their progress.