As cards aligned, Ott shined

It’s always nice to see local products make good, and that is certainly the case with Altoona’s Dan Ott.

The 25-year-old found himself at the center of the poker world during the World Series of Poker that was televised nationally by ESPN over several days and wrapped up July 23.

Poker requires skill, intelligence, luck and patience — a lot of patience. Because the tournament can drag on for hours — the final heads-up play was not settled until after 3 a.m. eastern time — the finalists get more air time than a presidential debate.

Consequently, commentators needed all the information they could find on Ott, whose family and friends were shown repeatedly, and frequent references were made to Altoona, the Altoona Curve, the Horseshoe Curve, Penn State and Penn State Altoona.

Newfound success isn’t always easy to handle, but Ott came off gracious, humble and likeable.

While a couple of the participants were all but beating their chests, Ott remained as low-key as possible considering the fortune and an $8 million first prize that was at stake.

He wound up taking second place and earning $4.7 million, surviving a field of some 7,000-plus that included his twin brother, Dillon, who became his biggest fan.

Ott and his family spent a few extra days at the tournament site in Las Vegas and returned home late last week.

One of his first stops was to see his grandmother, who chided him about his strategy, which he took in stride.

In an interview with the Mirror’s Michael Boytim, Ott expressed his thanks for the support he felt from his hometown.

“The fact they talked about Altoona so much on the broadcast and everybody gave me so much support made me feel incredible,” he said. “I didn’t expect even half of what I’ve gotten. The fact that I’ll go outside and people will recognize me is kind of crazy. I really appreciate everybody, whether I know them or not. The support is great, even if it’s from someone who just says they saw me on TV. I appreciate it. It means so much that the whole city was rooting for me.”

He said he’s got a “great support system” to help him manage his sudden wealth, and, unlike many on the poker circuit who relocate to Las Vegas, he plans to remain in Altoona.

“Financially it’s a huge help,” he said. “I don’t have to worry about anything anytime soon … For now, I’ll probably just take a vacation or two and relax. I want to play a few more tournaments and maybe invest some money to hopefully make some more money and keep life comfortable.”

Congratulations to Dan Ott.

We’d wish him good luck, too, but he already has that.

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