A 67-year-old retired real estate broker took home the honours and a $1.2 million main prize at the Fallsview Casino at Niagara Falls this week when he won the North American Poker Championship.
Glen Witmer survived a field of 454 entrants which was whittled away over 7 tough days, competing in only his second major buy-in poker tournament
. Witmer and fellow amateur player Jim Trenholm (41) of Toronto were the only two amateur players to make it to the final table, where they faced four experienced professionals across the felt.
Unfortunately, Trenholm - a firefighter by profession - didn't last long and was the first of the final table eliminations. He was followed by Ottawa poker pro Marc Karam who headed for the rail in fifth place and a paycheck of $171 175. Next to go was another Canadian professional and Internet player, Ryan Fisler who pocketed $228 234 for his fourth placing.
Respected US player Kathy Leibert headed for the exit in third place with a $277 684 paycheck, clearing the way for the heads up between Witmer and the high profile tournament pro Gavin Smith, who lives in Las Vegas.
In the final denouement, the players went all-in with Smith holding a pair of pocket fives to Witmer's ace-king. The cards fell Smith's way, until an ace on the river sent Smith home with $532 545, and gave the championship and the huge payday to Witmer.
It was an outstanding return for very little investment by the ex-real estate broker - he satellited into the event for just $170, and did considerably better than his showing last year when he was eliminated just six hours into the tournament.
Asked about his plans for the poker bonanza, Witmer revealed that he had celebrated his 47th wedding anniversary during the championship and would be taking his wife on an extended vacation with his winnings.