Retired SoCal firefighter takes home $218K prize, gold bracelet in World Series of Poker event

Curt Sandoval Image
Tuesday, July 11, 2023
Retired SoCal firefighter wins World Series of Poker event
A retired SoCal firefighter is living the dream of every amateur card player: Winning a bracelet in the World Series of Poker.

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (KABC) -- Thousands of card sharks from around the world are flocking to Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker, with millions of dollars in prize money on the line.

At the Main Event, which carries a $10,000 buy-in, more than 10,000 players are aiming for a $12 million first prize.

But there are dozens of other events at the WSOP that also offer hope for a gold bracelet - even for those who see themselves as home-game heroes rather than seasoned pros.

"It's something you daydream about but you never really think it's gonna happen," said Steven Genovese.

The retired firefighter from Southern California realized that daydream when he took first place in one of this summer's WSOP tournaments, earning a top prize of nearly $218,000 for a buy-in that only cost $500.

And even better, the Salute to Warriors tournament also raised nearly $200,000 for a good cause - helping veterans.

Genovese went to Las Vegas planning to play in a seniors event. But he jumped into the Warriors tourney and ended up doing far better than he could have imagined.

"This tournament had 4,300 players. Until we were down to three I still didn't think I had a chance," he said.

Even the final hand, he admits, was one he probably shouldn't have won. But his skill and a little luck brought him the bracelet - one which he now proudly displays at his local game with friends in Santa Clarita.

"We were going nuts," he recalled. "I started to get a little emotional. I fought back tears. I was just one happy camper."