Duane “Dewey” Tomko was born in the forties in Pennsylvania. He got his start playing cards in his teens at local pool halls. He won quite often and continued to win while attending college. Upon graduating, Tomko began working as a kindergarten teacher. He didn’t stop playing poker though and did so whenever he could. Eventually, Dewey realized that he was making a lot more money playing poker and quit teaching.
In 1979, Tomko won the $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em event at the WSOP. First place was only worth $48,000 back then, but the gold bracelet and respect earned was priceless. In 1982, he cashed in two more WSOP events. One of those was the Main Event where he finished second to legend Jack Straus for $208,000.
In 1983 and 1984, Tomko crushed the WSOP with five cashes. All of those cashes were top three finishes and the two cashes in 1984 were both wins for two more gold bracelets. He also won the Grand Priz of Poker this year for $355,000.
The following year, Dewey repeated as champion of the Grand Prix of Poker for $355,000 again. He also won a prelim event there for over $120,000.
Plenty more cashes were to follow over the next few years leading up to another extremely deep run in the 2001 WSOP Main Event. There, Dewey took second place to Carlos Mortensen when his aces got cracked. Tomko did take home over $1 million for the runner-up finish.
At the WPT’s Five-Diamond World Poker Classic in 2003, Tomko took home over $550,000 for a second-place finish. In 2004, he cashes five more times at the WSOP in Vegas.
Ever striving to capture more WSOP gold, Dewey came very close to doing so in 2005 and 2006. In 2005, he placed third in the $5,000 No-Limit Deuce-to-Seven Lowball event and then placed seventh in the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. Championship in 2006. In the latter event in 2007, Tomko placed tenth and just missed out on the final table.
Tomko is married with three children and continues to play poker. He has over $4.5 million in tournament earnings and is currently ranked fourteenth on the WSOP All-Time Money List. He’s also ranked in the top 50 on the All-Time Money List.