South Dakota Vietnam Vet Wins WSOP Bracelet

Michael Moore
Michael Moore flashes his new WSOP bracelet.

It took nearly 30 years but South Dakota’s Michael Moore is finally a World Series of Poker champion.

The 64-year-old Moore, who served in the Vietnam War, outlasted elite poker pros Gabriel Nassif and Ronnie Bardah to win Event 37 $5,000 Limit Hold’em for a $211,743 score last night.

According to Moore the cash was nice, but the real treasure was the gold bracelet that came with it.

“This is the true prize,” said Moore about the bracelet. “I’m 64 and I finally got here. I waited a long time for this.”

Moore hails from the small town of Agar in South Dakota, which only has a population of about 70 people. He learned poker at a very young age from his mother.

“I started playing poker at four but I started winning at age five,” he said.

To say Moore has lived an interesting life would be an understatement. At various times Moore has worked as a bulldozer operator, handyman, fisherman and an artist.

"We Had Nowhere Else to Spend Our Money"

Michael Moore wsop winner
Michael Moore after winning.

Perhaps most notably, however, Moore served as a marine in the Vietnam War from 1968-70.

Moore used his card skills to win a fair amount of money from fellow servicemen.

“I was in a warzone so we put a blanket over top of us to play,” he said. “The game would go on forever. Someone would go out on patrol and someone else would come in and take their place.”

Moore ended up sending home $6,000 from the games he played in during the Vietnam War.

“A lot of these kids had money, but nowhere to spend it, they didn’t even know how to play the game,” he said. “It was almost cruel taking their money.”

Gabriel Nassif
Gabriel Nassif finished second to Michael Moore.

Poker was obviously one of few bright spots during the war.

“I made money but I was also wounded in Vietnam and lost friends there,” said Moore.

“It was not fun. It was difficult coming home, nobody was going to hire a Vietnam vet because we were pretty crazy and I have to admit I was. I was probably certified nuts when I got home.”

Mental Toughness Improves Poker Game

Eventually Moore did recover, however, and he maintains that the mental toughness he developed in the Vietnam War helped improve his poker game.

“[Getting shot at] was an adrenaline rush that you can’t get anywhere else,” he said.

“I was very lucky to get home. I use it at the poker table and I can pick up little tells on people. I can tell when people are afraid.”

Despite the huge win, the summer isn’t over for Moore and he plans on taking a shot at the WSOP Main Event, which runs from July 6-15, 2013. Moore finished 10th in the Main Event in 1995.

“This is the pinnacle of being a poker player,” Moore said about his bracelet. “The only thing better would be winning the Main Event.”

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