"From the very first hand, I thought I was going to win it." -- David Lukaszewski (2003 Casino Employees Champion)In one of the most exciting and unusual poker success stories in recent memory, David Lukaszewski, a Shift Manager at the Desert Diamond Casino in Tucson, Arizona won the first event at the 2003 World Series of Poker -- the Casino Employees Limit Hold'em tournament.
, age 33, this was not only his
first time to ever play in a world championship event, it also marked the first occasion he
has entered a tournament with an entry fee of over $50.Talk about some extraordinary "beginner's luck."
But this tournament wasn't about luck.It was about skill -- more precisely, setting goals and achieving them by recognizing opportunities and then taking advantage.In this, his
first excursion into the risky battleground of high-stakes poker, Lukaszewski
set modest goals for himself every step of the way, hoping to acquire a certain amount of chips at each stage of the tournament.He
play in response not only on the characteristics of his
opponents, but also to meet his
chip count objectives."At the first break, I wanted to have $1,000 and ended up with $1,200," he
said."Then, at the next break my target goal was $2,500 -- and I had $2,800, and so on." If Lukaszewski were to author "The Making of a Champion," the first chapter would almost certainly be his extensive background in the industry -- as both a Poker Shift Manager and avid cardplayer.
The second chapter of the story would be Lukaszewski's laudable dedication to the concept of planning and meeting goals.Goals in life and goals in poker.
"Back in January, I made up a list of the goals I wanted to meet in my personal and private life by the end of this year," said Lukaszewski
."The first time I made up my list, I wrote: To win a major event.After I thought about it, I figured that sounded a little too ambitious.So, I scratched it out and wrote instead: To play in a major event."
In what amounted to a wire-to-wire victory in the tournament, Lukaszewski
has now met both of those goals.He
played, and then he
made it look too easy.
Lukaszewski's miraculous story actually started back last weekend, when he
brother, and a group of friends in Arizona decided to drive from Tucson to Las Vegas with the intention of to playing at the World Series of Poker.He
seat in the $500 buy-in casino employees event by winning a $65 single-table satellite at Binion's Horseshoe three days ago."At the time, I thought to myself, maybe I should just sell this off and keep the $500 in cash," Lukaszewski
was one of three players remaining with the most chips.
also has an interesting theory about what it takes to win poker tournaments.He
explained that during every tournament, somewhere along the way, the eventual winner will overplay a hand and get into trouble."There's always a time or two where you start out behind and come back and beat them.That's got to happen at least once and maybe twice.If you can catch a break or two like that, that puts you in a good position to win." Lukaszewski
arrived at the final table as the chip leader with about $20,000 -- roughly a fifth of the total chips in play.
...Paul Trieglaff (Palace Station), John Arrage (Binion's Horseshoe), and David Lukaszewski (Desert Diamond Casino) began drinking Kamikaze shots while playing at the table -- one after another.
"It was like I was sitting at home playing in a private game," recalled Lukaszewski
received $35,800 and the renowned gold bracelet for his
impressive victory.After the tournament was over -- which came nearly 15 hours after the start and fell as the clock struck precisely 3 am -- Lukaszewski
called many of his
friends and relatives to tell them the good news.
At least for the moment, Lukaszewski
is probably the only poker player at World Series of Poker right now who can honestly say he's
entered one event -- and won it.It was a perfect day for the man who can now single-handedly declare he
is an undefeated champion.
Daily WSOP Results
Official Money Winners
1. David Lukaszewski Desert Diamond Casino