Richard Seymour lasted longer in the World Series of Poker Main Event than any major pro athlete in the tournament’s 50-year history.
But that was of little consolation to the three-time Super Bowl champion when his deep run at the Super Bowl of poker came to an end late Wednesday night at the Rio Convention Center.
“You take small victories in everything but that’s not the reason I was here,” Seymour said. “When you’re a champion, you always come and compete and you want to compete against the best.”
The three-time All-Pro defensive lineman for the New England Patriots and Oakland Raiders entered Day 5 of the Main Event on Wednesday in 35th place of 354 players remaining from a field of 8,569. He was eliminated in 131st place and won $59,625 in the $10,000 buy-in No-limit Texas Hold’em World Championship.
“I made some huge folds today with really strong hands but my senses told me I was beat,” said the 6-foot-6-inch Seymour, who wore a baseball cap backwards bearing the phrase “Large & In Charge.” “Sometimes it’s not what you can make but what you can keep. It’s about survival but selective aggression as well. It’s a balance.”
Seymour, 39, of Suwanee, Georgia, climbed as high as 11th place before entering the dinner break in the middle of the pack shortly after folding a pair of queens and two pair in separate hands on the river.
Playing on ESPN’s featured table after the break, Seymour also folded a pair of 10s against an inside straight draw in another key hand.
Nursing a short stack during the latter stages of Day 5, which ended at 2 a.m. Thursday, Seymour went all-in on king-four. Two players called, with a pair of queens and ace-three suited. A king-high flop gave Seymour top pair, but a queen on the turn gave his opponent three of a kind and sent “Big Sey” to the rail.
“As a competitor, you always want to still be in it,” Seymour told PokerCentral.com after he busted. “You just have to try and go out and make the best decisions possible and today I had a day where I had to fold a lot of hands. I was in some pretty sick spots, I’m happy with my decisions and that’s all you can do in this game. You let the cards fall where they may and it just didn’t go my way.”
According to the WSOP, NASCAR driver Jason White owned the previous best finish by a major pro athlete, placing 348th in 2014 to better former NHL goalie Roberto Luongo’s 634th-place finish in 2012.
Seymour played in his first WSOP Main Event in 2014, busting on Day 2 on a bad beat. This is the first time in six tries that he’s cashed in poker’s most prestigious tournament.
“I feel like my game has grown tremendously from the first time I played here,” he said. “I played here my first year and thought I was ready. But looking back on where I was then, man did I have no clue.
“If you aren’t continuing to grow, you get passed by. I’m just continuing to grow in my game.”
Seymour increased his total live poker earnings to $638,293. His best cash was $376,360 for placing third in a field of 144 at a 2018 PokerStars event in the Bahamas.
“And that was with 140 of the best players in the world,” he said. “A lot of things have to go right but I feel like I can compete at a high level.”
The sixth overall pick in the 2001 NFL draft by the Patriots, Seymour spent eight seasons in New England and four with the Oakland. The seven-time Pro Bowler was a Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist this year.
He said there are similarities between competing in the Super Bowl and the Main Event.
“Discipline, fundamentals, work ethic and being in the moment and being aware of the situations that you’re in,” Seymour said. “I think all of those things have a parallel to sports and poker and I always feel like, in order to compete at a high level, you have to have that balance.”
Off the felt, Seymour recently joined Pro Football Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott as an investor in sports betting platform provider Bet.Works, which will power the upcoming launch of theScore mobile sportsbook in New Jersey.
“With sports betting opened up, I think it’s the next big thing,” Seymour said.