Duane Tomko, a.k.a. “Dewey”, was born on the 31st of December, 1946 in Glassport, Pennsylvania where he spent his childhood. His grandfather was a professional poker player, which is the most probable reason for his early interest in poker. At the age of 8 he had already started playing blackjack, but not for money - only for bottles, against the children in his neighborhood. For the very first time, Dewey Tomko played professional poker at the age of 16. Playing only at nights, he won money from Pittsburgh pool halls, which he used to finance his education at the College in West Virginia.
After college, Dewey Tomko got a job as a kindergarten teacher, but continued playing poker every night. Even though he didn’t sleep at nights, he realized that he was earning more money as a poker player than as a teacher. He said that the biggest salary he had ever earned as a teacher was $6,400. Poker playing helped him support his family and it was so good that it was hard to leave. For that reason Dewey he decided to play poker full-time.
In 1974 Dewey Tomko took part in the amateur category in WSOP for the first time, which was also his first major tournament. Five years later he had success and won a gold bracelet in the $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em event. In 1982 he finished second at the $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em WSOP Main Event, winning $208,000 and two years later, in 1984, took the first place in the same event. And that was not all - also in the same year he earned the biggest prize ever in a tournament at the time, $355, 000, in the $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em Grand Prix of Poker.
Apart from the big wins, there were also losses. The first time Dewey Tomko lost was in 2001, playing against Carlos Mortenson, at the final table of the $10,000 Championship event. Even though he held pocket aces, he lost $1.1 million. Later on, in 2003, he started catching up and placed second at the final table of the World Poker Tour $10.000 No-Limit Hold’em event going home with $550.000.
Over the years, Dewey Tomko continued playing poker and started investing his winnings into different kinds of businesses. To this day, he owns a golf course and operates casinos in Costa Rica and San Hose, which even now do not stop him from participating in tournaments. He is still a regular participant at the WSOP, and holds the record for most appearances at WSOP. During his professional poker carrier Dewey Tomko had made some friendships with other poker players such as Doyel Brunson and Jack Binion.
Dewey Tomko currently lives in Winter Haven, Florida and is married with 3 children, all of which boys: Derek, David and Drew. His oldest son, Derek, is a poker player too, whom Dewey Tomko describes as a better player than he was at that age.