Ex-salesman shoots for big poker stakes


ANTIOCH - A retired salesman has bluffed his way to the top without blinking an eye.

Allen Krell, a 59-year-old poker hobbyist, is one of six finalists at the LA Poker Classic playing No Limit Texas Hold 'Em for $200,000 and a spot in the World Series of Poker.

Unlike some professional players who conceal their eyes with sunglasses, the Antioch resident doesn't wear shades.

``The eyes tell a lot,'' Krell said in an interview this week, adding: ``I am pretty good at not being read.''

He chalks up the rest of his success to luck and the advantage of being an unknown player. Krell beat out 300 online players, all of whom were chosen randomly by Paradisepoker.com, landing him a spot in the first-round of the LA Poker Classic tournament. He competed against 180 players this month, reaching the final table of six.

This afternoon, he will try his hand against the five other finalists. Krell is guaranteed $25,000 even if he loses. If he wins, he will get $200,000 and a seat in the World Series of Poker which boasts a multi-million dollar prize.

But Krell isn't betting on it.

``I had my 15 minutes of fame,'' he said. Since picking up poker in the Marine Corps, Krell has played sporadically. A former optical salesman, he moved to Antioch 15 years ago. He frequents the Pacheco and Emeryville casinos and about three years ago began to play online.

The most he has ever won or lost in a sitting is about $8,000, he said. Overall, he comes out ``a little bit ahead,'' he said. But it becomes obvious that's a bluff, when a few minutes later, he acknowledges that he used to make a living playing poker when business was slow.

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