Few places were hit as hard as Las Vegas during the Great Recession, and Allyn Jaffrey Shulman created her own stimulus plan.
She invested $1,000 in last year’s Seniors Championship at the World Series of Poker and walked away with $603,713.
The cashier looked at Jaffrey Shulman and asked if she “would like it in cash.”
“I didn’t even know what $600,000 looks like,” Jaffrey Shulman said. “It was absolutely a sterling moment in my life.”
The 58-year-old returned this year at the tables at the Rio Convention Center for the Seniors Championship, wearing her gold bracelet from last year’s victory and hoping to win another one.
That won’t happen, though. Jaffrey Shulman was eliminated at around 9 p.m. Friday.
A record 4,407 players entered the 50-plus-age tournament, pushing the prize pool to almost $4 million, meaning the tournament probably will end Monday rather than Sunday, as originally was planned. The winner receives $634,809, and the top six players will be handed six-figure payments.
The long days are grueling for each contestant, and Jaffrey Shulman makes sure to stay sharp by drinking tea and not coffee and using the 1½-hour dinner break at events to eat a light meal and then rest for an hour.
Jaffrey Shulman also exercises five or six days a week, employing a trainer Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
“When you’re over 50 and you may not be able to sit for over 12 hours and you lose your attention, I think keeping yourself in shape, eating correctly, not drinking, all those things help,” she said. “Every little advantage is important.
“The younger guys can stay up all night and can still focus. I think as you get a little older, you’ve got to contemplate and make sure that you are doing everything correctly.”
Because she stays in top condition, Jaffrey Shulman had been averse to playing against competitors her age. But after last year’s experience, she looks forward to competing against those past the half-century mark.
“I’m going to take some criticism for this,” she said. “When people get to be 50 and older, there aren’t the same shenanigans at the table. There’s no nastiness. Everybody is friendly. People are having a good time. You want to win the tournament, but everybody is classy. You almost never hear or see somebody acting inappropriately in a seniors event.
“Frankly, I didn’t want people to know that I was over 50. So after I won the tournament, at $600,000, my husband said it doesn’t hurt so much being outed now.”
She long has been interested in poker, picking up the game as she put together a successful career as a criminal defense attorney in Southern California. Her late first husband watched their kids one night a week while she applied her secondary craft.
Jaffrey Shulman’s passion for poker intensified when she met Barry Shulman and later married him in 2003. He is an accomplished player with $4.7 million in winnings and two WSOP bracelets.
The Shulmans, who live in Las Vegas, own Card Player Media, which publishes Card Player magazine.
Jaffrey Shulman’s victory last season put the family at the forefront of the poker scene. Barry and his son, Jeff, also made the final table in their respective tournaments, the first husband-wife-son combination to advance that far in the same WSOP.
Jaffrey Shulman’s victory by itself was noteworthy, ending a streak of 249 mixed-gender tournaments without a female winner. Vanessa Selbst, who also won last year in Las Vegas, captured a bracelet in 2008 in Omaha, Neb.
“I wasn’t aware of that fact, because when I play poker, I’m not sitting down thinking, ‘I’m a female,’ ” Jaffrey Shulman said. “Just like I’ve been a lawyer for almost 30 years, I don’t think, ‘I’m a woman.’ I’m a person. But when I was a brand-new lawyer, it proved to me there was this good ol’ boys club.
“Somewhere around maybe eight or 10 years after being a lawyer, I never thought about the good ol’ boys club anymore because I realized I was in it.”
Contact reporter Mark Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65.