Dennis "Ironman" Perry is the winner of the World Series of Poker Circuit event at the Grand Casino in Tunica, Miss. A former ironworker from Williamstown, Ky., the methodical Southerner cashed for $195,000 in a WSOP event in 2005, and entered Day 3 in Tunica with the chip lead after spending two solid days dishing out bad beats left and right.
After six hours of play, during which he busted more of the field including Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi, with pocket aces over The Grinder's Big Slick, Perry and runner-up Gioi Duc Luong went heads-up with Perry holding a commanding lead.
They then went on a two hour sojourn to the casino steakhouse before reconvening and ending the match after only three hands of play. For once, Perry got all of his money in with the best of it, with pocket kings against Luong's pocket sixes.
After the cowboys held up, the Ironman was left with a check for $563,402 and only one Jamie Gold left to vanquish.
Dennis Perry, WSOP-C Bracelet Winner
Dennis, you've just won a half a million dollars. How does it feel?
I mean, I'm still the same person I was 10 minutes go. What you saw there today, that's pretty much who I am. I'm a gambler. I take a lot of chances. I worked with structural steel iron for 36 years. I put my life on the line about every day. And you know, if that don't scare you, what's a poker game going to do to you?
It's certainly a lot less of a gamble than putting your life on the line.
(Gestures to the poker table) I'm not going to fall off that thing and kill myself. Worst thing to happen is that I get a hand beat and go broke, you know?
I do this for fun, okay? And if it can't be fun I don't want to do it. I enjoyed this final table; I really did. There wasn't anybody bad- mouthing, like the young kids do. You know, I don't care what anybody does with their cards and their money. But when they want to run at you and degrade somebody's play, that's uncalled for. They bought in, and they can play the way they want to, just like myself.
You know, I gave some people - I guess they figured it was a bad beat, but to me it was a calculated risk. And I came out on top, and they're off somewhere else.
And it's been the other way around more than it's been this way, for me. You want to win every tournament you enter, but that expectation hardly ever comes through. If you win back-to-back in big tournaments, that's pretty juicy.
Did you have a strategy coming into the third day?
I just was going to play aggressive, and I was going to play whatever game they wanted to play. My game depended on their game. Like counter-punching in a boxing match. But I didn't sit up all night making a plan to play. As a matter of fact, as soon as I got back to the room last night, my head hit the pillow, and I was out like a light. Slept for about seven hours. I was tired.
Were you daunted at all to be facing someone like Michael Mizrachi?
I had an advantage over Michael. I've watched his play, and I know what he does. And he really didn't have a clue who I was or what he was getting into. But he found out right quick. I couldn't believe he called all his money off with ace-king after I re-raised there on the button.
But that's his choice, and I won't berate the man's choice; he's made too much money. He's made it playing a lot worse cards than ace-king. But he's great as far as I'm concerned. Anybody that makes that many million dollars has got to be doing something right.
But I'm looking forward to the Tournament of Champions. I went to the first one, and I made a terrible mistake in that thing. I had almost $60,000 in chips, and I was in a hand I shouldn't even have been in, and I got beat. And I've beat myself up over that ever since.
So now you can take another shot at it.
Well, I get a return trip. A rematch. And this time it won't be as big. There were a hundred and something people in that one. But I'm not looking forward to playing with Jamie Gold, because I think he's an idiot.
A lot of people seem to.
Well, you know, all that talking and stuff he does. I won't even pay attention to him. I'll play my game, and I'll play my hand, and I guarantee you he won't talk me out of nothing.
I can certainly see that. So you're a tradesman out of Kentucky. How did you get into poker?
I've played poker and pool all my life. My whole family plays cards; my grandfather was a stud player, Five-Card Stud. He said if you played anything else, you didn't know nothing about poker - it just wasn't poker. That was his game, and he was good at it too. Yeah, I got started early.
Do you plan to use the prize money to buy into more tournaments?
You know, I'm not sure what I'm going to do about that. I've got some plans to use it on some things, but we'll see what my wife says.
When I won the $195,000, I went home and built a new garage and a new barn - bought a '68 Z28 Camaro that's sitting in the new garage at home right now. But I'm going to do something I didn't do the last time; I made a mistake about taxes. And when I had to write that check (for back taxes), I almost cried. Eighty-something thousand.
Thanks very much, Dennis. Congratulations.
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Dennis Perry can feel satisfied that with his half-million-dollar payday, he can hire a reputable accountant to sort out the tax situation and still have plenty of over to snap up a companion to that sweet ride. And with this victory - his first after 16 cashes in major tournaments throughout his poker career - Perry is in prime position to lay waste to that most hated of TV agents-turned-poker champions. Hollywood Jamie might be golden, but something tells me he'd be no match for the Ironman.