Although I’m most well known as a professional poker player with over $4 million in lifetime tournament winnings, I’m also a former member and manager of the infamous MIT Blackjack team, a graduate of both MIT and Harvard Law School, and a licensed attorney. I offer training in both poker and blackjack, in person and over the phone, Skype, Facetime, Google chat, etc.
Although I have won over 15 poker tournaments, including a World Series of Poker Bracelet, my most famous poker tournament result was not for winning, but for coming in second. In the first World Series of Poker $50,000 buy-in Player’s Championship in 2006, I won over $1,000,000 finishing second to the legendary Chip Reese after the then-longest heads-up match in WSOP history. After knocking out Phil Ivey to get heads up, I was close to even with Chip and eventually took a big lead. Through the 286 hands of heads-up play, I had Chip all-in 4 times, losing all 4 times. (Until I won my first bracelet in 2012, I used to joke that I had 93% of a bracelet, since that was the probability that Chip would win all 4 of those all-ins.)
Later in 2006, I won $500,000 at the Pro Am Equalizer, which aired on ESPN early in 2007. In 2007, I finished in the top 8 players in NBC’s National Heads Up Poker Championship, and in 2008 I finished 2nd to Chris Ferguson. Three months later I finished second again in a WSOP bracelet event, this time the $10,000 buy-in Pot Limit Hold’em Championship. After years of trying and a dozen top 9 finishes, I was finally able to win a WSOP bracelet the day after my 43rd birthday in June 2012. As of June 2012, I have 28 WSOP cashes for over $2,300,000.
People often ask how I got to be a professional poker player. Here’s my story.
I practically grew up with a deck of cards in my crib. As a young child and throughout high school, I was always playing card games with my friends and family, and winning. I played a little poker with friends, but I didn’t get serious about poker until after I graduated from MIT with two electrical engineering degrees in 1992.
That’s when I got started playing casino poker at the newly-opened Foxwoods casino. I was working as an engineer in a small company in Westchester county, NY, and in December 1992 I decided to visit Foxwoods. There I saw a board listing the tournament winners from Foxwoods’ first “World Poker Finals.” I had no idea what a poker tournament entailed, but I was always good at games and I wondered how long it would take for my name to make it there. I started playing some small $35 weekly tournaments at Foxwoods, making the 2-hour trip maybe once a month. And by the end of the year, my name was on the winner’s board, for a $100 buy-in no-limit Hold’em tournament. That was the first time I ever played no-limit.
Yale and Stanford rejected me, but I got in to Harvard Law School, so I started law school in the fall of 1996. I paid for my tuition and expenses and more by continuing to play blackjack and invest with the MIT Blackjack Team. I had to curtail most of my poker trips but I still wouldn’t let school prevent me from playing the World Series of Poker in 1997 and 1998, even though I had to miss part of the last week of classes both years. (I had to skip the WSOP in 1999 or I wouldn’t have graduated!) For the 1997 World Series, Tom Sims, a good friend of mine, was looking for a volunteer to “sweat” and record all his hole cards (a low-tech precursor to hole-card-cams). I agreed. His records turned into a 2-part Card Player Magazine article and the entire play-by-play can still be found online at