Greg Mueller has a new World Series of Poker bracelet to add to his collection.
The White Rock poker player – and former professional hockey player – won his third career World Series bracelet last Friday in Las Vegas, competing in the prestigious series’ $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. event.
The victory was the 48-year-old’s third career WSOP bracelet – but his first in 10 years. In 2009, he won a pair of bracelets in no-limit hold ‘em tournaments just 11 days apart.
Friday’s win, and the ensuring $425,000 payday, boosted Mueller’s lifetime WSOP winnings to more than $2.8 million, according to the poker series.
The H.O.R.S.E event is “one of the more coveted titles on the WSOP” slate, according to organizers. It’s a mixed-game event – meaning competitors play a variety of games, including hi-lo, hold ‘em and seven-card stud – and the field was full of bracelet-winning players, including Mueller.
The White Rock resident – who played professional hockey in Germany from 1992-‘99 – had to come from behind in order to win, too. At the final table, he was one of two players to reel in the chip leader, Dario Sammartino, before beating Daniel Ospina in heads-up play to take down the tournament.
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Mueller said he’s been playing less poker than in previous years, which made his third-ever bracelet that much tougher to win – and sweeter to enjoy.
“I just haven’t played that many tournaments in a long time, and I had to get the bug to play again,” he said in a news release. “I was working hard in the offseason… I wanted to know if I could still play the game.
“I just felt like, ‘Do I still have it? Has the game passed me by?’ That type of thing.”
His most recent win also prompted him to reflect on his first two WSOP victories a decade ago, as well as many near-misses he’s had since – including a a seventh-place finish at a WSOP event last year, two third-place finishes in 2013 and a second-place finish in 2012.
He’s competed in many other tournaments since, including many televised events. In 2011, he was part of NBC’s Poker After Dark series, as well.
“To win the first bracelet… obviously it was awesome, chasing the dream. I loved poker. I loved it; I couldn’t wait to walk to the Rio (Hotel and Casino) and play another event. I just loved it,” he said.
“Being a little bit older, I don’t really love poker as much any more. It’s more of a grind and stuff for me… But winning one a long time ago, and not really caring as much, I was like, ‘You know what? I want to win one again.’
“I didn’t know it would come this quick and I didn’t know I would win the bracelet. It feels amazing.”
Mueller could not be reached for comment this week – he’s still in Las Vegas competing at other World Series tournaments – but told Peace Arch News back in 2010 that his strength in poker is not so much playing the odds or knowing the statistics on a given hand, but reading the other players.
“I’d rather look at a guy, talk to him, and see if he’s got the hand or not. People make the mistake of talking to me, and they end up giving away a lot of information,” he explained at the time.
“I just go out there and a lot of it’s instincts.”
Those instincts helped him win in 2009 – he told PAN at the time that a successful bluff rattled a fellow player so much that it cost him most of his chip stack – and was helpful this year, too. He credited much of his success last week to “some huge reads” against Sammartino, including one key hand of hold ‘em in which Mueller, who held bottom pair against what an online recap described as “a very scary board”, accurately called a Sammartino bluff, which won Mueller a big pot and helped him on his way to an eventual chip lead.
“It was a long grind; the play was awesome. I was down low a lot of times, and I went with a couple of reads and never gave up,” Mueller said.