Clyde Gaskins, a 54-year-old Lakemore native, has quite a lucrative hobby. Gaskins, who now lives in Las Vegas, participated in the World Series of Poker’s main event that took place in Las Vegas from July 8-17 and took home $20,441 in winnings.
Gaskins finished 610th out of 7,221 contest entries, the World Series of Poker’s third highest turnout for the main event. Although finishing in the top 10 percent with $20,441 in his pocket is much to celebrate, Gaskins’ final standings fail to communicate the extent of his impressive journey through the Series.
"I can’t even begin to tell you how exciting it was for me to play in this thing," said Gaskins.
Day one of the event gave Gaskins a lot of momentum. After paying his $10,000 dollar buy-in and receiving his $50,000 in starting chips, Gaskins sat down at table with seasoned professionals for the first game of day one. It proved to be one of the most risky and impressive games of his career to date.
"We got 50,000, so I thought ‘well, there’s no way I’ll be in an all-in game day one,’ but it happened," said Gaskins.
It came down to Gaskins and one other player who bet all $50,000. Despite the massive risk, Gaskins kept his cool and made a pivotal call that won him the game and $153,900 in chips, putting him second overall. By the time all of day one’s games were done Gaskins sat in a respectible 31st place (the second place finisher ending up winning $4.7 million and 31st place took home $214,000).
"That got rid of a lot of the ‘do I belong here’ stuff.' But, you know, I believe in myself. He played the hand like he was scared. You should never play that way," said Gaskins, talking about his day one opponent. "He should have never shoved all in there."
During the next three days Gaskins was able to increase his earnings to as high as $484,000 in chips while sitting at tables with notable pros such as Allen Cunningham and Jonathan Little.
"To get through day three with all these top pros and go from $99,600 to $484,000 with them at my table all day was just wow. It’s really a dream come true to play in this thing, and now I’m living my dream, you know, I’m like ‘God, I could really win this thing.’"
On the fourth day of the Series Gaskins’ streak came to an end at 610th place, but that still left him with more than $10,000 in net earnings and a list of players that finished below him thousands of players long.
Gaskins still considers Lakemore home, where friends and family call him Ed or Eddie, but in 2008 the budding professional poker player moved to Las Vegas to turn a lifelong love for poker in to something much more than just a hobby. He currently works as a tournament director at a casino.
"I was able to make it in Lakemore. I made decent money, I paid my men well when I had my painting company," said Gaskins about his hometown. " But I don’t want to be where I just make it, and when I came out here all of a sudden I saw the opportunity to make money and I took advantage of it."
Leaving home for Vegas to live a poker-based lifestyle hasn’t all been a dream come true.
"I miss my grandkids growing up and my son and daughter becoming adults. I do miss that part," said Gaskins, "but you know what I did myself better by moving out here."
But Gaskins is skilled and surrounds himself with the game, constantly studying. He plans to return to the The World Series of Poker’s main event next year.
"It’s a whole new life, really," he said.