LAS VEGAS — Gabe Scott was locked in battle at the final table of the $3,000 Pot Limit Omaha event at the World Series of Poker at the Rio Hotel and Casino while his beloved Oklahoma City Thunder was taking on the Miami Heat back home. Scott had on one of his Thunder shirts to show his support for his favorite team.
Ultimately, the Thunder would lose Game 2 that night, but things went much better for Scott. The poker young gun scored a victory just after midnight to earn $361,797 and the most coveted of poker bling — the gold bracelet. Friends and family cheered him on, both in Las Vegas and watching the World Series of Poker's live online feed.
“Going deep into the tournament I was very focused and ‘in the zone,'” said Scott, 23, of Oklahoma City. “I was not thinking about trying to move up places in the money; I wanted to win it. At the final table, I didn't want to know what each place paid. I was only concerned with one place and the bracelet. I had already final-tabled the same tournament the previous year, and I would only be happy with first place.”
Despite playing for big money and the prestige that goes with winning a bracelet, Scott said he stayed focused on his goal.
“The pressure was not so much of a factor for me. But I knew that it would be for the other guys, and I used that to my advantage. It seemed several of them only wanted to stay in as long as they possibly could. I was playing to win,” he said. “Second place is considered a nice run, but it's not winning. You will be placed in the same category as everyone else who did not win. There is only one winner, and that's what I knew I had to be.”
Growing up in Norman, Scott was a dedicated student at Norman North High School, taking advanced courses and excelling in math. He played soccer and ran cross-country, and his grades and test scores were good enough to earn the National Merit Scholar honor. He entered the University of Oklahoma with scholarships to pay for four years of college and was conditionally accepted into OU's medical school. But the poker bug began to bite.
During high school, Scott and some friends organized small buy-in tournaments and occasionally raised the stakes to as high as $20. During his senior year, he began playing a bit at his local casino.
“Whenever I could save up a little extra cash I would go and play $1/$2 No Limit Hold'em,” he said. “I actually started taking shots at the game just before I turned 18 and hoped I didn't get asked for my ID.”