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Never Better: Meet the 2015 Spirit of Poker Living Legend Nominees
They might not always stand in the lamplight of the highest-stakes games or the biggest tournaments.
Or, like in the case of Erik Seidel, they may still.
But without these players there wouldn’t be a World Poker Tour. Or a Bobby’s Room. Or even, maybe, a World Series of Poker.
If you think poker is a young man’s game consider this: There were almost 4,200 players in this year’s WSOP Seniors Championship. And with Neil Blumenfield and Pierre Neuville there are also two players over 60 in the November Nine.
if you get the chance to play in an international poker tournament, speak to the seniors; they're usually the most fun to talk to. And boy do they have stories to tell.
PokerListings created the Living Legend Award back in 2012 to recognize the contributions of players over the age of 50 who made the game of poker what it is. Who laid the foundation for what poker could and can still become.
Past winners Neuville and Thor Hansen give way to a new winner in 2015 that's among the following eight names. Whom do you think deserves it the most? Vote and let us know right now!
Cashes last 12 months/2015 WSOP: 14/4
You know how people travel less when they get older? Not Konstantin Puchkov. Puchkov appears at so many poker tournaments around the world you start to wonder if he has a twin brother.
From Russia through most of the European countries across the Atlantic to Las Vegas, Puchkov’s been there. And he's cashed. Over and over again.
Puchkov’s passion also shows in his second-favorite hobby – breeding horses. In an interview last year Puchkov told us that when he started he gave all the foals poker names like “Freeroll," “Full House” and even “Full Tilt Poker."
Nominated each year for this award count on Puchkov making it for many years to come if he doesn’t win this year. Or, likely, even if he does.
Cashes last 12 months/2015 WSOP: 26/5
Dan Heimiller has seen some bad times. Especially early in his career. When he finally saw some success he decided to take the liberty of making the move to full-time poker.
That was roughly 25 years ago. He now has $5.4 million in live cashes including a victory at the WSOP Seniors event last year.
Heimiller has seen it all, played it all, and every second of his sentences will make likely make you laugh.
With 266 live cashes Heimiller has become pretty much the Bob Dylan of poker, if you consider that Dylan’s “Never Ending Tour” began in 1988, only three years before Heimiller started out.
We stopped counting his cashes for 2015 after the WSOP finished but you can count on him cashing at least twice since you started reading this article.
Cashes last 12 months/2015 WSOP: 0/0
Although Greenstein hasn’t made any big appearances on the live stage in the last 12 months he’s certainly a hallmark of poker both pre- and post-Moneymaker.
Aptly named the “Robin Hood of Poker” for giving all his winnings to charity he was one of the most prominent members of Team PokerStars. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who has promoted the game more than he has.
Greenstein was a fixture on all the major poker shows, playing the highest stakes and being involved in one of the biggest pots ever played on TV when he lost a seven-figure pot to Tom Dwan.
Showing he hasn't lost his love of the game at all he's also still active at the highest stakes of play-money poker where he's perpetually interacting with fans and celebrating the game of poker.
He's also won the Sunday Billion, PokerStars' marquee play-money tournament, twice. Greenstein has three bracelets, triumphed at the WPT and amassed more than $8m in tournament winnings and is the author of the modern poker classic, Ace on the River.
Cashes last 12 months/2015 WSOP: 6/2
He’s known mostly for his Hollywood career but his poker results go back to 2004 - at least officially. He's also one of the most passionate, enthusiastic players we’ve ever met.
This summer he made his first WSOP final table. Impressively it was in a No-Limit Hold'em shootout event, meaning he beat two tables of world-class professionals.
Despite his age Woods is a fan of the new generation of online poker players and he still sees himself as a student of the game.
He’s also a role model for amateur players with the way he sees the game, saying that he’s “more motivated than ever," enjoys the game while still taking it seriously and revels in the idea that everyone can win.
“I hope what I do for the game is that I make it appealing to people that the game needs,” he told us this summer. Mission accomplished.
Country: Costa Rica
Cashes last 12 months/2015 WSOP: 2/0
It’s no exaggeration to say that Humberto Brenes brought poker to Latin America.
When he won the only $10k event outside the WSOP in Tunica in 2002, one year before the boom, poker was so rare on Costa Rican TV that whenever the finale was shown again people thought Brenes had won yet another tournament.
Brenes is humble enough to say he’s not the best player in the world and he’s never had the ambition to be a superstar. But he’s definitely proud of his significance for the poker world, and rightly so.
For eight years he was a member of Team PokerStars Pro and his winnings surpass the $6m mark.
Brenes has already been nominated for the Poker Hall of Fame but hasn’t been inducted yet. It should be only a matter of time.
Cashes last 12 months/2015 WSOP: 2/0
Jackie Cachia is living proof that it’s never too late to learn to play poker.
She started playing at a relatively late stage in her life but once she did she quickly became a regular at her local casino, the Portomaso in St. Julian’s.
Now Jackie has cashes at WPT and IPT events, the Battle of Malta and the Irish Open. Her biggest result was a third place in one of the tournaments of the Extravaganza series at The Palazzo in Las Vegas.
In Malta Jackie is a local hero and if you get yourself a ticket to this year’s BOM, chances are you’re going to meet her. You won't be disappointed.
Cashes last 12 months/2015 WSOP: 2/0
One of the wittiest, most original ambassadors of European poker Parkinson is a well of stories and a genuine representative of Irish Poker.
Parkinson was there when Chip Reese, Doyle Brunson, Stu Ungar, Amarillo Slim and Puggy Pearson first came to Europe and played in the Irish Open, the oldest poker tournament on the continent.
In return Parkinson frequently visited the WSOP and came third in the 1999 Main Event when his fellow countryman Noel Furlong won it.
For decades Parkinson has promoted poker as a grassroots movement, a game that is there for everyone and not just the superstars. He also does spectacular work as a poker commentator and engages in charity work for homeless people.
All that and a sense of humor, too? We should all be so lucky.
Cashes last 12 months/2015 WSOP: 12/4
At age 55 Seidel doesn’t seem to have peaked at all. In fact it looks much more like he's he's only just reaching his stride.
239 cashes (He'll probably reach 250 before the BOM starts), total earnings of over $25 million (#3 all-time) and a #6 ranking in the GPI popularity index -- all just a fraction of what makes Seidel so great.
For eight weeks the unassuming Seidel quietly made it to the top spot of the GPI ranking. With eight bracelets, he’s also the sixth most successful WSOP player of all time.
Seidel was raised in New York and he’s a big fan of jazz music and theater. He also used to be a top-class Backgammon player.
If you're not a big poker fan and wondering where you recognize him from, he made the heads-up of his first WSOP main event in 1988 and lost to Johnny Chan. The last hand has become a legend since it was featured in Rounders.