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Poker Player Loses Home In Deadly Tornado

David McKenna To Start New Life With Girlfriend, Use Insurance Money For WSOP Main Event This Summer


Oklahoma poker player David McKenna, winner of more than $250,000 lifetime in major tournaments, just had the wind destroy nearly everything he owns.

On Monday, May 20th, a massive tornado ripped through the town of Moore, destroying McKenna’s home and many others like it. In addition to the property damage, 24 people lost their lives and 377 were injured, according to the most recent reporting from Reuters. McKenna was at work when the storm — one of dozens to hit tornado alley over a span of a few days — struck and was fortunately not physically harmed. Neither was anyone he’s close to.

“I have been so blessed,” McKenna said of the support he and others from the community have received in the aftermath of the deadliest tornado to hit the country in two years. On Monday evening, all he had was his truck and the clothes on his back. His two-story, five-bedroom home that was built with some of his poker scores was obliterated.

Unlike a poker pro with a depleted bankroll, McKenna said he will not “rebuild.” He wants to “start new memories,” and will quickly do so with his girlfriend who he will now move in with. Remarkably, McKenna said he and his girlfriend were talking about such a step in their relationship the night before his house was ripped from the earth.

McKenna, a veteran registered nurse, has had a successful run of cards over the years, but has never been a full-time player, finding the time to play primarily on the weekends. He said that losing his home and all his possessions will provide him with a clean slate and motivation to likely pursue poker more seriously in the future. He said he will actually be using his insurance money to enter the $10,000 buy-in World Series of Poker main event this summer in Las Vegas.

The father of three grown boys was easy going when talking about the devastation not even a week after it happened. He said, stoically, that his house now exists as a “pile of rubble.” A photo of him in front of it (pictured above) went viral on Facebook, generating 16,400 shares.

“I got a text from my neighbor who said, ‘just in case you are wondering, we’re homeless,” McKenna remembered of the moment he found out. It was an exchange indicative of the risk that is assumed when choosing to live in that particular section of the United States.

Despite all the optimism and resolve, McKennda admitted that “the severitiy of it all” perhaps hasn’t hit him yet. It was a horrible event — and perhaps the 47-year-old is due for some “run good” at the WSOP this summer. Keep an eye out for the tough man from Oklahoma.