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61-year-old Neil Blumenfield from San Francisco is the second-oldest member of the 2015 WSOP November Nine and he enters the final table third in chips. Blumenfield is not a poker pro. He works in the software industry as president and COO of Elastic Intelligence. Blumenfield told us he woke up the morning after making the final table thinking the entire week might have been a dream. When he confirmed it was real life he started making plans for what this money might mean. Blumenfield is guaranteed a $1 million payday but if he comes out on top in November, he'll take home $7.68 million and the title of world champion. “This is the achievement everyone who plays this game wants. So I'm enjoying it. I've been enjoying it since Day 4 hugely.” Blumenfield cashed in the 2012 Main Event, finishing 285th. Check out the full video interview with Neil Blumenfield below and check back in November to see how he does.
First thing is, when I went to bed last night there was kind of a flash where I thought I'd wake up the next morning and it was all a dream and I really got knocked out on Day 2 running kings into aces. But now that it's real, it is a huge high. This is the achievement that everyone who plays this games wants to get to. So it's very special. I'm enjoying it. I've been enjoying it since Day 4 hugely.
When I came into this tournament the previous best I'd done in the Main Event was to make it to Day 4 so I had a very simple goal: Make Day 5. So since then it's been a freeroll and it's just been a blast.
In terms of my poker background, I've played as a kid a lot, regular games when I was in high school and then didn't really play a lot until I started playing tournaments about eight years ago. I started playing small local tournaments and then came to the World Series for the first time about eight years ago and I think I only played the Seniors Event. The goal back then was just to make the final table in the Seniors Event, that's what I thought I could do. Over the years I played more and more events. I played four events this year. I play a little cash but mostly tournaments and I've been working on my game pretty steadily and it pays off.
I've been in software for 30-something years and I've been working mostly with start-ups in that time and that's helped with the bankroll. Interestingly enough just about a month ago I made a life decision to leave software and devote time to what I want to do with my life, including poker. I've been wrestling with the idea of whether I can actually make a living at this game, or make enough money to survive, and in two weeks that question has been answered.
One of the other things I like to do is travel and nicely enough I can travel and play poker at the same time so that's good. I brew beer, and I haven't been doing enough of that recently. I do photography and I have been doing enough of that. I just want to do things that are more fun for me. Bike-riding is something I'm into. So, this run, regardless of where it ends, has really enabled me to do those things in any way I want now.
I think it's a great thing that Pierre [Neuville] and I are both here. Actually I'm a little irritated with Pierre because I would have set the record for the oldest guy in the November Nine except for Pierre, so now I'll have to come back in like 12 years and do it again. I think Dan Harrington said that no one over 40 was ever going to win this thing before and there's a reason for that. It's a grind. It's 70 hours of poker over seven days. I hope they don't show these two hands on TV but there are two hands late on Day 5 that I totally screwed up and I know it's because I was exhausted. I know that for a fact.
I played a hand with Negreanu totally wrong that cost me a lot of chips and then I played a hand with Matt Jarvis totally wrong and that cost me chips, so that's the problem. It's a long grind to accumulate chips and they are gone in a heartbeat. If you're not totally focused for 15 minutes in one hand, that is the tournament. That's the struggle so what I've tried to do, and didn't do on Day 5, is to really slow down when I get tired and think of it even longer and that helps.
Pierre has a whole lot more experience than I do. He's won a lot of big tournaments so I think it's a bit more normal for him than for me.
It's obviously a dream come true to be here. It's been a fantasy. I've thought from time to time what it would be like going home from San Francisco after making the November Nine and talking to my friends about it and it's been great. I've had like five different groups of people following me throughout the tournament. My poker friends, my family, it's just been a gas to go through the experience. Coming back in November is even more special. I have sisters in Chicago and a girlfriend in San Francisco. And my girlfriend, for those of you who are interested, has a great shop for fashion called Pascaline Paris for Men's and Women's fashion.