I had always liked to play board games, video games, any type of games. When I learned you could actually make money doing this I was sold. I did very well against the other players winning what seemed like every time and not knowing any of the fundamentals such as position or bet sizing or pot odds.
I remember reading one book (The Theory of Poker by David Sklansky) and the rest was history. I was playing in games several times a week and then started hosting games in the basement of my parents house where we would play small stakes cash or get around 30 players and do $30 buy ins.
I also would go up to Mt. Pleasant in Michigan which was about a two hour drive from my home in Ann Arbor, MI and was playing 3/6 limit initially since no NLH games were offered. I moved my way up to the 10/20 limit game there and was also playing online poker where I turned a $25 deposit into a substantial roll after my third try depositing.
I was playing club soccer for the Michigan Wolves which was extremely time demanding so having a regular job was not feasible. Being able to pop online and play poker at my convenience was perfect and it really helped me learn and grow as a player being able to play multiple tables a time. I then learned of “Casino Windsor” (now Caesar’s Windsor) which was just over the border of Canada and a short thirty minute drive from Ann Arbor. I would play 1/2 NLH and would put in very long sessions here. I can remember several 36 hour sessions and many 24+ hour sessions.
I often would take my winnings and look to parlay it in the 10/20 NLH games where was uncapped and a $600 minimum buy in. This is where I would end up meeting my best friend and room mate from 2009 – current who happens to be the most decorated Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps.
I attended the University of South Carolina on part academic and part athletic soccer scholarship playing all four years 2004-2008. Soccer had always been my passion and favorite thing to do but my love was shifting during this time and poker was my new favorite hobby. I realized that although I was a talented soccer player my ceiling had been reached and making a living playing professional soccer was not realistic for me.
My Jr. year of college I remember a turning point for me where I did not travel one weekend for our away match and I had just turned 21 years old earlier that month of September 2007. A friend of mine who also played sports at the University of South Carolina and I decided to fly to Atlantic City for a $1,000 buy in tournament at the Trump Taj Mahal where the United States Poker Championships were going on.
A total of 215 players entered and I would end up in 4th place (made a deal four handed ended up getting more) it was my first live event and I was officially hooked. I remember thinking what a rush it was and how I could have played better and how close I was to actually winning the whole thing.
I would return to USC and started playing much more tournaments online whenever I could squeeze it in between practices school and having a social life. After graduating I began coming to Vegas for tournaments and in 2010 during the 41st annual WSOP in a $1,000 3,042 person WSOP event I placed 5th and had my first six figure score taking home $109,621 for my efforts.
This was an out of body experience and gave me the courage and confidence to believe I could do this for a living. I was still primarily an online player but began to realize I was more of a live player and when black Friday happened April 15, 2011 what initially felt like a gut wrenching event turned out to be the best thing that had ever happened to me.
Shifted into the live poker scene and began to get back on track with a healthy style of living which after graduating college had fallen out of being active physically. I have worked my way up to playing as high stakes as $1,000/$2,000 NLH cash games and the $100,000 “high roller” tournaments with finishing 3rd at the first ever Alpha 8 tournament at the Hard Rock in Hollywood, FL as well as a 2nd place finish in the $125,000 invite only most recent Premiere League season VII.
I have had some close calls for major tournament wins with a 2nd place WSOP finish and a 3rd place WPT finish but winning a major tournament has alluded me. I have shifted my primary focus to cash games but I have a real love for tournament poker and how everyone starts with the same amount of chips and has same opportunity and there is a champion crowned.
I am determined to capture a WSOP and a WPT title and I believe it is coming in 2017. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the game of poker and all of my opponents and believe that there are so many attributes in poker that apply to all areas of life and I am constantly looking to improve in all areas on and off the felt.
Please check in on my online mentoring here for updates and all things poker and travel related and I wish you all the best at the tables and with your goals in life. I believe it is the most important thing in life to do what you love and for me, I love poker.