One Shell of a Player: The Oyster King Dives into the $10,000 Main Event
Don’t call Armand King a fish in the Main Event today. An oyster? Maybe. But Oyster King is his preferred title.
From Richibouctou Village in New Brunswick, Canada, King is among those battling it out in Day 1C of the Main Event. In his day job, Armand founded Oyster Kings 18 years ago. The company is the largest oyster producer in all of eastern Canada and harvests fresh oysters daily and ships them to more than 70 countries.
“It's the only sport that I can play where some of the players are even three times younger than me. And sometimes I can give them a hard time.”
“The Atlantic oysters are really salty and really good,” he says. “We even ship to France, where they raise oysters too.”
The 81-year-old oyster impresario has three children, six grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. His son now runs the company, which gives King more time for poker. He’s playing his first Main Event today.
“I’ve always been very competitive and for me, this is like a sport,” he says. “It's the only sport that I can play where some of the players are even three times younger than me. And sometimes I can give them a hard time.”
A pearl at the tables, this oyster has almost $128,000 in live tournament winnings and learned to play the game as a teenager. Back in New Brunswick, King has a regular $5/$5 game, with one round of No Limit Hold’em followed by one round of Pot Limit Omaha.
“I win my share,” he says of the home game action.
King has not always been at the top of the oyster food chain. Before he was a mollusk man, he dealt in a different kind of seafood. At age 60, he sold a lobster processing plant with plans to retire. The extra time would give him more time for hunting, fishing, and golfing. After four years, however, King decided that retirement didn’t suit him.
“I got bored,” he says. “I tried it for four years, and at 64 I realized that it was going to kill me. I didn't hunt or fish more than I did before. And I realized that with golf, the more I played the worse I became.”
“You have to be patient and grind. You have to be lucky too. But I’m having fun.”
A regular in casino tournaments in Moncton, New Brunswick, he also heads to Montreal for bigger events. In August, he won the $1,100 Grand Poker Event in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, for $20,000. This summer, he has about $26,000 in three cashes in events at the Wynn and Planet Hollywood.
So far in the Main Event, the Oyster King’s stack had dropped a bit below the starting 50,000 chips by the dinner break.
“I’m down a little bit,” he says. “I got caught in a big hand, but I’m staying patient. I’m trying to make Day 2 and just see what happens after that.”
With the big field in the third starting flight, King felt a bit like an oyster out of the water.
“I’ve never seen so many players,” he says. “When Moneymaker won there were 800 players, now there’s over 8,000. It’s crazy. You have to be patient and grind. You have to be lucky too. But I’m having fun.”
Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer in Crandall, Texas. His work appears in numerous websites and publications. Follow him on Twitter @PokerTraditions. He is also the host of the True Gambling Stories podcast, available on iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn Radio, Spotify, Stitcher, PokerNews.com, HoldemRadio.com, and TrueGamblingStories.com.