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Best of Howard Stutz
Howard Stutz

A full house at the right time

25 June 2008

Winning a World Series of Poker event for the first time was a monumental achievement in the career of David Singer. But if his pregnant fiancee, Erin Warner, had gone into labor during the final table, Singer was ready to pick up his chips and walk away from the game.

Luckily, Samuel Koster Singer waited a day for his arrival, allowing dad to collect $214,122 by winning the $1,500 buy-in pot-limit hold'em event early in the tournament, topping a field of 713 players.

"A lot of people were betting that Erin would go into labor, wanting to see if I would really do it," said Singer, 41, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y.

Singer is a former environmental law attorney who moved to Las Vegas two years ago to be closer to his 5-year-old son, Anton.

"I was her Lamaze coach. I would have had to leave," Singer said.

He speculated that Warner probably went into labor later that same night. They had gone out to celebrate his victory. Adding to the World Series of Poker theme, the labor-delivery nurse at Summerlin Hospital happened to be a poker fan and recognized Singer, a professional poker player since 1996.

After the birth, he provided tournament public relations director Nolan Dalla with a photo of Samuel Singer wearing dad's gold and diamond championship bracelet.

A week after his son was born, Singer was back at the tournament room inside the Rio. He cashed out in 58th place in a $5,000 buy-in no-limit hold'em event, winning $10,650. A few days later, Singer finished fifth in a $3,000 buy-in no-limit hold'em event that earned him $12,641.

Singer's run at the World Series of Poker has him listed among the top five in the tournament's power rankings, which could lead to additional prize money.

"I'll probably try to play in about 25 events because of where I'm at in the players' race," Singer said of the 55-event tournament.

He plans on putting up his $50,000 buy-in for the annual high-stakes H.O.R.S.E. event this week, a game in which he's gained some notoriety among the World Series of Poker crowd. Singer has reached the final table in each of the previous two H.O.R.S.E. events, which rotates play among five variations of poker. He finished sixth both times, winning $411,840 in 2006 and $337,440 last year. Singer has won more than $1 million at the World Series of Poker since 2003.

Singer also plans on entering the tournament's main event, the $10,000 buy-in no-limit Texas hold'em world championship, which begins July 3.

"Those H.O.R.S.E. events were good paydays," Singer said. "Winning the main event would be incredible. But no matter what happens, this has been a tremendous year, especially with the birth of the baby."

A member of the online poker team, Singer won $560,000 in May in a heads-up, $25,000 buy-in online tournament that was sponsored by FullTilt. The baby factored into that event as well.

Singer had convinced his fiancee to host a barbecue at their home for families in their Lamaze class. However, he didn't realize the finals of the online event were scheduled for the same time and day as the barbecue. While Warner hosted their guests, Singer played out the tournament upstairs.

"They thought I was some kind of crazy gambler, but when they found out how much money I was playing for, the whole birthing class got into it." Singer said. "Erin was a good sport."

Poker has not always been Singer's main passion. He graduated from the Bridgeport School of Law in Connecticut with hopes of using his legal career to help the environment. While in law school, he discovered poker at the nearby Foxwoods Casino .

Singer, who passed the bar exams in Connecticut and New York, spent several years with the Long Island Soundkeeper, a watchdog organization dedicated to the protection of the Long Island Sound in New York. One of his efforts helped end sandblasting of bridges over the Long Island Sound that put harmful chemicals into the water.

Players at the World Series of Poker are allowed to wear product logos and sell sponsorships on their clothing. Singer said he hopes to provide an environmental group free advertising space for the rest of the tournament.

He is wearing a logo for the African Youth Education and Community Development Foundation,, a charity his cousins are involved with that help bring running water and educational necessities to villages in Nigeria.

"I would love to go back and help various environmental issues," Singer said. "I don't know how much poker players can raise awareness about global warming and other environmental concerns, but I hope we can."