Former cop has a bite to the face to thank for WSOP victory

26 June 2012

Greg Ostrander, the winner of the World Series of Poker's $3,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament, has a bite to the face to thank for his victory and the $742,072 first-place prize.

Really? A bite? How could that be?

There was a time when Ostrander pretty much stood bare-naked in front of the entire world. When he was in his early 20s, he modeled for Calvin Klein menswear. Ostrander posed in his briefs in several national ad campaigns. If the designer’s popular slogan was “Nothing Gets Between Me and My Calvins,” Ostrander was the racy poster boy of provocation.

Ostrander used his assets wisely. With the earnings he gained as a model, Ostrander went to college and earned a degree in criminal justice. Next, he took a job as a police officer with the Monroe County (New York) Sheriff’s Department, which oversees Rochester.

The daily life of a cop has been chronicled in every popular medium – be it fiction, non-fiction, literature, television, or movies. Of course, beneath the contrived thrills, the real grind of being a cop is one of frustration, mind-numbing repetition and life-threatening danger. It’s neither glamorous, nor necessarily exciting. In short, it’s not like in the movies.

Ostrander knew this already. But he did his job, and he did it well. He continued to work faithfully as a dedicated and fiercely loyal patrolman for eight years. During the course of his career, he endured just about all of the hardships that most cops face working a beat. The never-ending domestic abuse cases. The petty acts of theft. The traffic accidents.

Then, there were the occasional acts of physical violence.

Ostrander had his share of clashes. Most of the bad guys were petty punks and harmless drunks who thought taking a swipe at a cop showed machismo, when the fact was, it demonstrated blatant stupidity and disregard for common sense. Ostrander was punched numerous times. He was kicked. He was even bitten a few times by assailants, leaving him scared and bloody.

Then late one night, Ostrander found himself in the fight of all fights. Just as some out of control delinquent was being physically restrained so as to not endanger himself or others, the brute lashed out and munched at chunk out of Ostrander’s face. His left face was mangled like $10 rib eye. Not only was Ostrander bloodied and scared, the incident required him to take a leave of absence to be tested for possible infections. As Ostrander slowly recuperated, he began to reflect upon yet another brawl and the incessant dangers of his occupation.

By that time, Ostrander had discovered poker. It had become a passion. It was, well -- love at first bite. Pretty soon, not only was Ostrander beating a circuit of local underground card games consistently, he found that he was spending more and more of his free time thinking about the game and its complex intricacies.

Pondering the inherent dangers of returning to work and continuing life on the streets as a cop, not to mention the lack of compensation requisite of laying his life on the line every time he went to work, Ostrander finally decided he’d had enough. He quit his job as a police officer.

"I had a four-year degree and I could not find a job making as much as I was making as a cop at the time," said Ostrander. "Instead of taking one of those, I just kept playing poker."

It was a stunning move. The decision seemed preposterous. It was a ridiculous gamble.

But Ostrander believed in himself and contemplated what really mattered to him most. He also had the undying love and support of his wife and two children. While being a cop provided a certain amount of comfort and security, the real gamble had been each and every day Ostrander put on a badge and strapped on a gun and headed out the front door to work. It's a constant fear that every spouse of a police officer must some how grapple with -- every day, every night.

Ostrander's gamble and faith in himself ultimately paid off on this regal day, at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. The 40-year-old poker pro who had once modeled underwear and put his life on the line to protect his community had his life-changing decision validated on this glorious day, when he managed to win his first WSOP gold bracelet. He collected three-quarters of a million dollars -- which will provide at least some measure of security for his family from this point forward.

Of course, not every poker story turns out this way. Not all stories have happy endings. This is especially true for those involved in law enforcement, where each and every gamble is played for stakes, which can be a matter of life and death.

But this story ends well. It ends happily.

For Greg Ostrander, a bite led to a $742,072 win and his first WSOP gold bracelet. Ostrander's only other notable WSOP accomplishment took place in last year's Main Event Championship, when he outlasted more than 7,000 players and ended up with an impressive 232nd-place finish.

The four-day competition attracted 1,394 players. The runner-up was Jackie Glazier, who barely missed becoming the second female to win a gold bracelet at this year’s WSOP, following a prior victory by Allyn Jaffrey-Shulman in the $1,000 Seniors event.

Paul Vas Nunes finished third for $290,407, while Morten Mortensen was fourth for $210,793. Roger Fontes finished fifth for $155,498, and Darryl Ronconi was sixth for $116,452. Joseph Chaplin (seventh), Kyle Frey (eighth) and Dylan Hortin (ninth) also made the final table.

The top-144 players finished in the money. Notable players who cashed in this event but did not make the final table included: JP Kelly (10th), Kevin Schaffel (12th), Fabrice Soulier (13th), Scott Montgomery (17th), Dan Shak (28th), Shannon Shorr (30th), Kirk Morrison (31st), Keven Stammen (104th), and Layne Flack (141st).

Modified from tournament notes provided by WSOP Media Director Nolan Dalla.

Related Links
Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino Details
Nevada Gambling
Ranked Online Poker Rooms

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