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Poker News | People in Poker | Poker Superstars

Arizona: Tom Schneider, Beyond the Bracelet

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When Tom Schneider won Event #5 -- $2,500 Omaha/7-stud Hi Lo -- I couldn’t have been more thrilled. Tom and I (along with a guy named Karridy Askenasy) host a poker podcast together – Beyond the Table – and he occasionally blogs with me at Pokerati.com. So not only was I able to see a good friend and colleague beat out the likes of Annie Duke, Chris Ferguson, and David Benyamine for $214,000 and a bracelet, but also I got a privileged glimpse into what a WSOP winner goes through in the immediate aftermath of victory.

From getting paid to getting hit up for cash to getting drunk with your friends, here’s what you can expect should you be fortunate enough to take home a gold bracelet:

1. The Winner’s Shot
Though one of the most boring photographs in poker, you get posed alone at the table, with all the chips, your winning cards, and the bracelet to chronicle your achievement. It’s kinda like wedding pictures – something you simply have to do before you can head to the party. It’s important to make sure you give your best smile, because this is what future generations of poker players will have to look at throughout history.

2. Vibrating Pants
The phone calls and text messages start flooding in, which can pose something of a dilemma when you have to decide whether or not to take a call from your mother while WSOP commish is giving you his private congratulations before being whisked away to a small room across the hall. (Tom reluctantly let Mom go to voicemail.)

3. Poker Media Video Interviews
As coverage of the WSOP continues to grow more multimedia, the video cams are waiting in the hallway to ask you questions about your win. This took about 15 minutes for Tom, who acknowledged that he simply got lucky cards that rewarded his aggression and then recognized this full-motion face time as an opportunity to pimp his book and podcast.

4. Cashing Out
Getting paid for you WSOP winnings used to take place on the tournament floor, a few steps away from live poker action. Now you go to a small room set up like a suburban doctor’s office lobby and begin filling out the paperwork. You get to chose how you want your money in any combination of cash, check, and casino chips. About 45 minutes later you are sent to a dedicated tournament payout cage. Schneider chose to take his winnings in the form of a six-figure check, $25,000 in Rio casino chips – “I figured it will make it easier to buy into other events” – and the rest in cash.

5. Rail Vultures
After winning the bracelet, it didn’t take long for the degenerate railbirds to come out. While waiting in the cash-out room, Tom received a text from a fellow Arizonan he played seeking a $10,000 loan. Though Tom had fronted this player money before and gotten paid back, “I wouldn’t be doing him a favor at all,” says Tom. “I like the guy, but he’s a sick gambler. If you want someone who can turn $1,000 into $500,000 he’s the one to do it; but if you want to see someone turn $500,000 into $0, he’s also the guy for that.” When Tom didn’t respond to his text, he began lurking right outside the doorway to the cash-out room, until one of Tom’s true poker friends ran interference and pulled the guy away asking him not to ruin what was previously a joyous occasion.

6. Paying off Your Backers
One key change to the payout process this year is you no longer have the option to divert winnings to any backers – it’s left up to the individuals to settle up and handle any related tax obligations. Because of a standing agreement between Tom and some home-game friends, three people had three percent of Tom, for which he paid them $6,000 each. As per the terms of their tournament interest swap, he will be sending them all 1099s – which doesn’t exactly seem surprising coming from Schneider, who left behind a life as a CPA and CFO (in the golf industry) to make his living on the felt. After paying off his friends, Schneider put most of the rest of the money in a safe-deposit box in the Amazon room and they all headed to a bar on the other side of the Rio to celebrate.

7. More Rail Vultures
As Tom and his wife and friends embarked on the half-mile trek from the WSOP poker area to the Masquerade Bar, he began taking phone calls from well-wishers, at which point another person looking for money tried to catch Tom’s attention. This person walked right next to Tom, mimicking his steps, and ignoring the fact that Tom was trying to look more interested in his phone call. So eventually Tom paused, and the guy paused. He turned to the right, and the guy swung around with him. At this point the mirror behavior was almost a joke, so Tom started walking backwards, and in-step, the dude still followed.

“You’re going to put me in a satellite, right?”

This semi-joking inquiry finally got Tom to stop. It was a familiar face, as the guy had been cheering Tom on ever since he got the chip lead. Throughout the rest of the tournament, he kept stopping by Tom’s table, “saying he was supplying me his mojo, his mojo was good, his vibes were good.”

And for that, the guy expected Tom to give him $500. When Tom balked at the suggestion, then the player reminded him that he had loaned Tom money recently at the table. “I didn’t remember it, but it was possible that he slid me some chips once so I didn’t have to get up and go to my cash box. But still.” With that twinge of doubt, this rail vulture cracked him. “I felt like he was going to badmouth me if I didn’t, and really I just wanted him to go away, so I gave him the 500 bucks. I’m not proud of it … it was a leak.”

8. Fondling Bracelets
Eventually, with the poker beggars dispersed, and the fun began over copiously flowing drinks – Bud Light for Tom and most of his friends, MacAllen on the rocks and shots of Tuaca for yours truly. Players who win at the WSOP often have accomplished poker friends – and the Arizona posse routing on Tom included Pat Poels, who has two bracelets of his own, and Robert Goldfarb, with more than 30 cashes in major events to his name. Another bracelet winner, Brian Wilson, would come up to congratulate Tom and join the party. The festivities included plenty of talk about hands and competition along with ogling of the newest bracelet and comparing its size to the older ones.

10. New Opportunities Emerge
Though discussions were in the process long before he won, Tom was invited to provide color commentary on the inaugural semi-live internet broadcast of a WSOP final table – a $1,500 limit hold’em event – with ESPN’s Howard David. It was the kind of opportunity he had been preparing for with his Beyond the Table podcast. And though he was confident heading into the WSOP that good things would happen for him, he didn’t really expect so much to happen so fast.

“So far it’s been great,” says Tom. “I can’t ask for much better.”

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