WSOP Casino Employees Tournament Won by New Mexico Card Room Dealer 

The second event of the 2024 World Series of Poker flagship series at Horseshoe Las Vegas was a special one. 

The $500 Casino Employees No-Limit Hold ‘Em tournament at Horseshoe Las Vegas last week was for the unsung heroes of the poker world: the dealers, the casino cleaners, the stream technicians, and the bartenders. 

A surprising number are actual pro poker players, who qualify through their work in the business off the tables. 

However, that makes victory all the sweeter for amateur poker player and professional card dealer Jose Garcia (pictured), who beat out all 1,189 entrants to take home the top prize of $79,134

The Albuquerque native can usually be found dealing cards at Sandia Resort and Casino in New Mexico, where he has been working for nearly two decades. 

The Tournament

The action kicked off on Tuesday morning, with 1,189 players paying the $500 buy-in. Although ostensibly for amateur poker-playing casino employees, several actual pros took advantage of their off-table jobs within the industry to qualify for the event. 

That included Lukas Robinson of Liverpool, England, who is a career poker player, but also works as an ambassador for website PokerNews. Which involves occasionally making a vlog and wearing the company’s merch. 

Six-time circuit ring winner and two-time WSOP online player of the year Mike Holtz also hit the felt because of his connections with PokerNews, where he co-hosts a weekly podcast. 

However, Garcia outlasted them all to take the victory. The long-time casino card dealer showed remarkable skills to dominate the chip lead from the start to end of the final day. 

During the final head-to-head with Richard Rothmeier, Garcia lost four million in chips on one hand. But it wasn’t enough to completely wipe his lead, and he turned it around in the following hands. 

The final hand ended in an early call from Garcia, sitting on a high two pair king and queen. Rothmeier’s king nine gave him a chance at several combos. But the flop only gave him a pair, and he lost out to the kings and queens combo of Garcia. 

The WSOP continues this week at the Horseshoe and Paris Las Vegas casinos. Event number 1 was the $5,000 Champions Reunion, which was won by Asher Conniff. He took home $408,000 for his troubles.

The Final Standings

1Jose GarciaU.S.$79,134
2Richard RothmeierU.S.$52,773
3Alexander GreenU.S.$37,264
4Lang AndersonU.S.$26,698
5Barry GoldbergU.S.$19,412
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