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Dewey Tomko

 

Dewey Tomko Dewey Tomko is a former kindergarten teacher turned professional poker player. He is known almost as well for having lost two World Series of Poker titles (in 1982 to Jack Straus and in 2001 to Carlos Mortensen) as for his 35 years as a professional. Dewey has three World Series of Poker bracelets, so he shouldn’t have low self-esteem at the poker table; however, he often says that these days he needs side games to raise his confidence.

A tournament regular with millions in tournament earnings, Dewey Tomko was born on December 31, 1946 in a small rural community in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. At age 16, Dewey was already making money with poker, winning hands against seasoned players in some Pittsburgh pool halls. He was able to pay for four years of school at Salem College in West Virginia; he graduated with a degree in education.

After college, he worked as a kindergarten teacher. Dewey continued to play poker every night and go right to the school in the morning. He rarely slept but he kept making money. Tomko decided to turn pro when he realized that sometimes he was making more in a night of poker than his annual salary as a teacher. Dewey invested a part of his winnings into businesses and started playing tournaments. Before long, he met and became friends with Doyle Brunson and Jack Binion.

The 1974 World Series of Poker was his first major tournament, he played in the now defunct “Businessman’s Tournament,” an event for amateur players with outside business interests. Dewey won his first World Series of Poker bracelet in 1979 in the $1,000 No Limit Hold’em event. In 1984, Tomko won two World Series of Poker bracelets, one in the $5,000 Omaha Pot Limit event and one in the Main Event. The same year, Dewey also won the $10,000 No Limit Hold’em Grand Prix of Poker.

Tomko owns a golf club in Florida and operates a Costa Rican casino. These businesses along with his desire to play golf on the PGA’s Senior circuit keep Dewey’s tournaments to a minimum, even though he still attends the World Series of Poker each year. He has played every World Series of Poker Main Event since 1974, which is currently the longest active streak; to date he holds the record for most World Series of Poker appearances. He has made two World Poker Tour final tables.

Dewey continues to play in tournaments and side games while running his businesses. Now he lives Winter Haven, Florida with his wife. They have three sons: Derek, David and Drew. Derek is also a professional poker player. Dewey says his son is better than he was at his age and his newest goal in poker is to go heads up with his son at a World Series of Poker final table.