Businessmen Surprise in $111k Buy-in WSOP One Drop Tournament

Brandon Steven
Brandon Steven

Poker-playing businessmen are proving they can swim with the big fish of the poker world in the 2013 $111,111 buy-in WSOP One Drop tournament.

Brandon Steven, Dee Tiller, David Einhorn and Kathy Lehne were among the numerous non-poker pros who bought into the massive 166-player tournament.

Common wisdom is that it’s the business-owners that attract such a large amount of poker pros in a huge buy-in tournament but several businessmen have been cleaning up in the first couple days of One Drop.

Steven, who owns several car dealerships and the Wichita Thunder hockey club, thinks that poker pros tend to underestimate what business-savvy individuals bring to the table.

“I think people like myself, who have skills in business and poker, have a bit of an edge in these tournaments,” he said.

“[Poker pros] think they have a bigger edge than they probably do because if you’re competitive in business and you negotiate for a living, like I do, it’s all about reading people. The cards in front of you are just part of the deal.”

Steven is hardly a poker amateur, however. He finished 10th in the 2010 WSOP Main Event and most recently placed fifth in the 2013 WPT World Championship.

“I love the competitive nature of poker,” he said. “I just love it. I’ve been a competitive person my whole life and this is the ultimate competition I think.”

Oil Tycoon Dee Tiller Plays Biggest Cash Games in the World

Dee Tiller

San Antonio’s Dee Tiller, an oil and gas provider to major oil companies such as Conoco and BP, doesn’t feel out of place amongst elite the young guns of the poker world.

“I play in some of the biggest cash games in the world, literally,” he said.

“In today’s world if you’re over 40 you’re considered washed up. They call you a ‘live pro’, which is a nice way of calling you a fish. I’m hyper aggressive so it doesn’t bother me. I’ve already showed a couple bluffs today."

Businessmen succeeding in a pro-heavy tournament is hardly unusual. Last year Guy Laliberté, Richard Yong and David Einhorn all made the final table of the $1 million buy-in Big One for One Drop.

It's All About the WSOP Gold Bracelet for Steven, Tiller

David Einhorn
David Einhorn at the final table of the Big One.

Of course this year’s One Drop first-place is nothing to sneeze at with a $4.8 million payout. For Steven and Tiller, however, it’s all about the bracelet.

“I need to win a bracelet,” said Steven. “I finished 10th in the Main Event a few years ago and that tore me up.”

Tiller agreed.

“A lot of my best friends in the world have bracelets. I said to myself ‘I’m going to come out and win a bracelet.’ That’s why I’m here.

It’s been a long-time dream for Tiller, who played poker against his parents for chore money back on the Ranch in San Antonio.

“When I lost, my parents kept it,” he laughed. “I wanted to keep that money so I had to get pretty good at poker.”

Till said that’s part of the appeal of poker.

“The great thing about poker is that a 10-year-old kid can beat you and a 95-year-old woman can beat you,” he said.

That goes for businessmen too, apparently.

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