By Simon Young
Some of you may be old enough to remember the coin-operated game called Zoltan that became an arcade favourite in the 1960s and 1970s. You stuck your money in, picked up the telephone handset, and the craggy-faced mystic spoke of your destiny while his crystal ball glowed magically (or terrifyingly if you were really young).
Zoltan the arcade machine
If I recall correctly, Zoltan was Hungarian and his taped predictions were absolute rubbish – but that wasn’t really the point. He’d not be the best, in that case, to foretell who is likely to win the top prize at the WSOP, just announced as being $9,119,517.
But there is a Zoltan here in Vegas who can influence the future of that wallet-busting prize – step forward PartyPoker qualifier Zoltan Gyorgy from Hungary, who is right in the middle of the frenetic action in the Amazon Room today.
Our Zoltan, who runs a laboratory testing, among other things, air and water quality, has had something of a magical few months. He started playing on PartyPoker on May 1, having never tried poker before – and a week later won his superb package to the WSOP Main Event in Las Vegas. Not even he could have predicted that.
Zoltan the poker player
“To be here is just amazing,” he said. “The service from everyone at PartyPoker has been excellent. I’m one of four friends who tried to qualify together, and as I won through I will represent them all. And yes, if I win loads of money I will split it with them! All I want to do today is play well. I know I will need lots and lots of luck.”
When I last saw him at table 38 in the seething blue section of the Amazon Room here at the Rio, Zoltan was sitting on about 15,000 of his 20,000 starting stack. Who knows what the future holds for him after dinner?
Final 2008 World Series of Poker Main Event Numbers:
Total entries: 6,844
Net Prize Pool: $64,333,600
Entries by Day: 1A, 1,297; 1B, 1,158; 1C, 1,928; 1D, 2,461
Players in the Money: 666
1st Place: $9,119,517
2nd Place: $5,790,024
3rd Place: $4,503,352
4th Place: $3,763,515
5th Place: $3,088,012
6th Place: $2,412,510
7th Place: $1,769,174
8th Place: $1,286,672
9th Place: $900,670
666th Place: $21,230