John Holley Dedicates Victory to a Late Friend

John Holley WinnerEvent #6
Buy-In: $500
Total Entries: 108
Prize Pool: $46,094
May 7-8, 2014

Florida fisherman wins $500 HORSE event for $12,907, denies Orland Romero second career CPC title.

Hammond, Ind. (May 8, 2014) — John Holley is a Southerner through and through but has ties to Hammond and the Horseshoe Casino that go deeper than success on the poker tables. A few years back Holley was in a game at his local room in Destin, Fla. when a gentleman from the Midwest sat down and commissioned the table to cash a 400-dollar check.

“His name was John Selvick, but they called him Tugboat,” Holley remembered of the stranger. “I had never seen him before in my life, but I said, ‘How much you want? I’ll cash you a check.’ He writes it and it’s written from a bank in Illinois. He said, ‘It’s good, it’s good.’ He was fun to have in the game, so I said I’d do it.”

Holley cashed the check and, as promised, Selvick paid him back promptly. The pair’s relationship grew over time as Holley continually loaned him money and Selvick continually made good. Selvick, a tugboat captain from the Chicago area who wintered in Florida, discovered Holley also held his captain’s license and tried to recruit him to work for him in the Midwest.

“I was like, ‘No. I’m not interested in doing that,’” Holley remembered. “Then he [was diagnosed with cancer] and he asked me again would I come up here and work for him. I don’t think he really needed me, but he just wanted me to come up and work for him.”

Holley took Selvick up on his offer the second time around and gave up traveling the circuit to work for Calumet River Fleeting – Selvick’s tug and barge company. Holley primarily worked in the office but often got out on the water, too.

“It was great to go along with him,” Holley said of their days on the Great Lakes.

Holley spent the better part of a year working under Selvick and their relationship grew outside the office, too. Staying just a few miles from the Horseshoe, Holley made numerous trips to and from the property’s card room where he’d often play the $40/80 mixed game.

“He backed me,” Holley said of Selvick. “He’d call me out of bed in the middle of the night and say, ‘You gotta get here. There’s some crazy players here in this cash game. I’ll give you 300 dollars plus half of what you win.’ Whenever I did anything with him he was lucky.”

Selvick was so confident in Holley’s ability he once purchased a $1,000 tournament voucher for him despite Holley expressing no desire to play the event. It took some coercing, but Holley reluctantly accepted the seat and rode Selvick’s good vibes all the way to a runner-up finish.

Selvick’s battle with cancer came to an abrupt end in 2012 and Holley eventually returned home to Destin, Fla. forever keeping his close friends in his heart. Fast-forward almost two years and it’s Thursday at the Horseshoe and Selvick’s memory is front and center again.

Holley is back at the same property where he shared many hands with his late friend and he’s holding the chip lead in Event 6 of the Chicago Poker Classic, a $500 H.O.R.S.E. event. Selvick is fresh in his mind while Holley is heads-up against Orlando Romero holding a commanding chip lead. The dealer sends the final down card in stud and the hands are tabled, sending the last of Romero’s chips Holley’s way.

“He was a great guy with a big kind heart,” Holley said of Selvick. “Kind of rough like guys that work on boats, you know? He might curse you out, but he had a super huge heart. Being in Chicago and having a win, I have to dedicate this to John.”

Holley did his friend proud, but more than that, he honored his memory in one of the best ways possible – by playing just like he played when Selvick was footing the bill.

Holley is a 53-year-old fisherman and poker player from Destin, Fla. Impressively, the $12,907 first prize in Event 6 moved him over the $800,000 mark in career tournament earnings.

“I’m a real spiritual man,” Holley said following his win. “I thank the Lord for giving me an opportunity to play poker for a living. He let me fish forever and now He’s letting me play cards.”

Event 6 was the sixth of 10 numbered events on the 2014 CPC schedule. The $500 H.O.R.S.E. tournament drew 108 entries generating a $46,094 prize pool. The top 16 players were paid. Notables to participate in the event include 2004 WSOP Main Event Champion Greg Raymer and gold bracelet winner Dan Heimiller.

Event 6 final table results:

1st: John Holley – $12,907
2nd: Orlando Romero – $7,978
3rd: Robert Garibay – $5,281
4th: Randall Ristich – $3,728
5th: Kristopher Tong – $2,796
6th: John Ryan – $2,220
7th: Vu Hoang – $1,861
8th: Brandon Shack-Harris – $1,641

Full results available from our friends at

2014 Chicago Poker Classic results:

  • Event 1: $350 NLH Re-Entry – Chris Karambinis defeated 3,092 entries for $168,039
  • Event 2: $500 NLH – Sachin Bhargava defeated 806 entries for $104,263
  • Event 3: $400 PLO – Ben Sagan defeated 194 entries for $19,854
  • Event 4: $350 NLH – Matt Kirby defeated 285 entries for $20,321
  • Event 5: $600 NLH Six Max – Drake Bronk defeated 269 entries for $37,695
  • Event 6: $500 HORSE – John Holley defeated 108 entries for $12,907
  • Event 7: $350 NLH Stimulus – TBD

2014 Chicago Poker Classic upcoming events:

Event 8: $1,500 Main Event – Friday/Saturday, May 9-10, 12 p.m.
  • Event 9: $250 NLH Re-Entry – Saturday/Sunday, May 10-11, 1 p.m., 4 p.m., 7 p.m.
  • Event 10: $350 NLH Turbo – Monday, May 12, 12 p.m.

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