Boca man, 97, big winner at Isle Conine poker
You never know who the most formidable opponent is at the poker table. It could be a young hotshot, the woman with the sunglasses or even a 97-year-old man.
Participants in the fifth annual Jeff Conine Poker Classic learned that the hard way last week, when Victor Arnold, who turned 97 on July 8, was one of two big winners in the field of 230, dividing about $15,000 with Marshall Weinberg of Davie.
But the July 11 poker success isn’t the only thing that sets Arnold apart.
“I can still drive at night, and don’t even need glasses,” says Arnold, who works part-time, overseeing a millionaire’s mansion in Fort Lauderdale. He hits the owner’s exercise room each visit, getting in weights, rowing and elliptical work.
Arnold, of Boca Raton, says he plays mostly at Seminole Casino Coconut Creek but also sometimes plays at the Isle Casino and Racing in Pompano Beach, which hosted the Conine tournament. He began playing in South Florida at the Seminole Classic Casino about 20 years ago, when bets were capped at 25 cents and pots at $10.
“Playing poker, and watching Jeopardy, keeps me sharp,” said Arnold, whose wife died nine years ago.
Arnold moved to the United States from England 27 years ago after serving in the British Navy from 1940-46, during which time his ship was struck three times. He also survived liver cancer at age 52, while occupied as a salesman for local ads shown in theaters before the main feature.
Arnold says he plays a patient game, and was buoyed by being dealt aces three times.
The tournament raised $100,000 for Conine’s Clubhouse, a home-away-from-home for parents of patients at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood.