Imagine playing in your first-ever World Series of Poker Main Event. Now imagine you're fortunate enough to make a deep run into the money. Then you somehow turn a Royal Flush to eliminate a tough pro. Sounds like a poker fairy tale, doesn't it?
Well that happens to be a true story playing out in the 2015 WSOP Main Event, one that belongs to an insurance salesman from Lancaster, Ohio named Alan Wentz. Like so many players who entered the Main Event, Wentz isn't a poker pro, but rather an avid player with a day job. When he does find time to play, it's usually in the Columbus area.
"This is my first Main Event, and I'm just totally stoked. I can't even explain how it feels," Wentz told PokerNews on a recent break. "I bought in. I had two sponsors – my father and another guy. Actually I final tabled in Daytona. He had a piece of my action, and he just rolled it over to this. Then I just bought in."
The final table Wentz referred to was an eighth-place finish in the October 2014 Heartland Poker Tour Daytona Beach Main Event for $14,274. Prior to that, Wentz had finished third in the 2014 Queen City Classic $260 No-Limit Hold'em Ultimate Reentry in Cincinnati for $32,724, and more recently he placed fifth in the Hollywood Poker Open Columbus Event #3: $450 No-Limit Hold'em for $4,503.
"I'm feeling real confident," said Wentz. "This isn't my first tournament. It's not like I'm a rookie poker player, but I am a rookie to this, this kind of magnitude."
Wentz came to play the Main Event after he and his girlfriend drove cross-country to take his mother home. His girlfriend then flew back, leaving him all alone in Vegas. However, he'll soon have company as his two sons – ages 21 and 14 – are flying in to sweat their old man before a family trip down to the Grand Canyon.
"This was sort of unexpected, well not unexpected," Wentz said of his appearance on Day 4. "I wanted to run deep, but you know, this has gone way beyond my wildest expectations."
Wentz began the day with 529,000, but a big hand early on helped him climb the counts. According to updates from the event, it happened when Wentz opened for 20,000 from late position holding the and poker pro Matt Berkey, who was in one of the blinds, three-bet to 60,000. Wentz opted to take a flop, which came down .
Berkey checked, Wentz bet 50,000, and Berkey check-raised all in. Wentz made the call with his straight, which was ahead of Berkey's flopped set of kings.
"Obviously I flopped the nuts," Wentz said of the hand. "He had a set of kings, but I turned the Royal Flush with the . Obviously the hand was over at that point. That was the big hand. I think that was close to 800K-900K pot there. Aside from that I've been slowly building up."
While Berkey didn't know his opponent's name, he took to Twitter to relate the bad news:
Flopped top set of kings and got all in. Guy made a royal. #NextYearFollow @berkey11
"It's been awesome, I've been loving it. Just loving it," Wentz said of his run thus far. "What is it, two-hour levels, 10 hours a day, it's a grind. Starting to feel it a little bit today."
The big question is, does Wentz have three more days of play left in the tank?
"I could do three more weeks, I love it, this is what I'm here for," he was quick to point out.