To Ken Lind, playing poker is a lot like fishing.
You can find the 68-year-old Layton man at Willard Bay, fishing nearly five days per week, but what he caught playing poker Monday was certainly bigger than anything he's ever found at the end of his rod.
Lind took home $634,809 by winning the World Series of Poker Seniors Championship at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The three-day tournament featured 4,407 players older than 50, and was the largest Seniors Championship since its inception in 2001. It was Lind's first appearance.
"I didn't ever fathom getting that far," he said Wednesday. "My first goal was to get through day one. On day two, there were 480 players left, and the payout started at 441, so I wanted to earn my money back. As it progressed I just kept setting my heights higher and higher."
Lind served in the U.S. Army from 1963-1985. Afterward, he worked for the Bureau of Reclamation until retirement. He has seven children, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
For the past eight years, Lind said he always intended to enter the tournament, but kept putting it off. Finally, a couple of friends and his wife persuaded him that this is the year.
"It's just a hobby," Lind said. "The biggest thing I ever played before was eight or 10 tables at the most. Many times just one or two tables."
When he got to the final table with nine other competitors, Lind was the oldest. Regardless, he held to his strategy of patience just like fishing on Willard Bay.
"One of my things is I like to be very calm with every hand. I think about it. It doesn't matter if it's a pair of aces or a couple of low cards, I give every single hand a few moments of thought," he said.
Lind plans on using the money to pay off mortgages on his two homes, but doesn't see his life changing at all despite the recent cash flow.
Does he have any plans to compete again?
"I haven't thought about it yet," he said. "I'm getting over the jet lag of doing it. It's 15-hour days and you can barely sleep. I was just exhausted. I'm still exhausted now. It's fun, don't get me wrong, but it's not easy. It's work."