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Richard Seymour tackles poker with same intensity as football

Richard Seymour had his first job when he was 6 years old — as water boy for his father’s construction crew — and was known as one of the hardest-working players in the NFL throughout his career.

The former All-Pro defensive lineman is applying the same level of dedication to poker.

“It’s not a job in terms of paying bills for me, but that doesn’t mean I don’t put in work that I feel like some of the top pros do,” Seymour said. “I study the game. I travel around the country and play different events. I read. I got a lot of really good poker buddies that I just take a lot of different advice from and just add it into my philosophy of play.”

Seymour was one of the few celebrities in the field Saturday at the Rio Convention Center for Day 1A of the $10,000 buy-in No-limit Texas Hold ’em World Championship.

Former All-Pro cornerback Antoine Winfield also was among the 764 entrants, while many of the top professional poker players were entered in the $111,111 buy-in High Roller for One Drop tournament and waited to register for the Main Event.

Scott Neuman of Rawlins, Wyoming, was the unofficial leader at the final break at 9:30 p.m. The Main Event continues at 11 a.m. Sunday at the Rio with Day 1B and runs through July 18. The final nine players return Oct. 30 at the Rio’s Penn & Teller Theater to battle it out for the top prize.

“It’s fun for me,” said Winfield, who is playing his third Main Event. “I’m a competitor, but seeing all these professionals and then to go and beat them and rake down a pot knowing I’m an amateur is always exciting.”

Seymour won three Super Bowls during his eight seasons with the New England Patriots and played four years with the Oakland Raiders from 2009 to 2012. A five-time All-Pro pick, Seymour also made the NFL’s all-decade team for the 2000s and is eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2018.

“When you’re a member of the all-decade team, I think it really speaks to the work that you’ve put in, the offseason training and the dedication,” Seymour said, “and that’s what I’m trying to bring to poker.”

Seymour has more than $62,000 in career live tournament earnings, most of it in the past nine months, according to Global Poker Index’s Hendon Mob Poker Database. He finished 44th out of 753 entrants at the World Poker Tour’s Bay 101 Shooting Star Championship in March for his biggest cash to date ($21,580).

Seymour made Day 2 of his first WSOP Main Event in 2014 before being eliminated on a bad beat, and he was knocked out late on Day 1 last year. He finished 10th in a satellite to the High Roller event last week and just missed qualifying.

“My first year, I understood the game, but I knew just enough to get myself in trouble,” Seymour said. “And last year was another learning experience. It’s a hobby, but I take it very seriously.”

Winfield rebounded from an early hit when he ran pocket queens into his opponent’s aces and had approximately 70,000 chips at the final break. Seymour was in better shape with more than double his 50,000-chip starting stack as he tries for his first career WSOP cash.

Much of the Day 1A attention was on Table No. 441 in the purple section, arguably the toughest first-day table in recent Main Event history. The players included two-time bracelet winner Greg Mueller, bracelet winner Matthew Ashton, top poker pros James Akenhead and Andy Black, along with “Jeopardy!” Tournament of Champions winner Alex Jacob, a former pro with more than $2.6 million in live tournament winnings.

A handful of former Main Event finalists also were spotted on Day 1A, including Neil Blumenfield, last year’s third-place finisher.

Contact reporter David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidSchoenLVRJ

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