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In 2003 Chris Moneymaker parlayed a $40 satellite into 2.5 million dollars. ESPN aired this remarkable feat what seemed every single night for the new few months. There was not a man in America who didn’t think for a minute, “Hey maybe I could do that too”. And so the poker booms began…

I eagerly watched every new WSOP episode with my Dad. I was amazed at how many ‘professional’ poker players they were and remember thinking, “These guys play a card game for a living? That’s so cool.” Around this same time, many of my friends started having after school poker games. During the last few days of December, in 2003 (my junior year of high school), flush with Christmas money, I decided to try my luck for the first time.

I remember it like it was yesterday. It was in my friend Zach’s basement, and we were all laughing, chatting, and watching WSOP reruns. The game was $.25 – $.50 NL with a $20 buy in. 30 minutes into the game, I was all in, on a double paired board. I was holding a flush and my opponent had a one card full house. I got pushed the pot. Chaos ensued and someone pointed out the other guy had a full house and should of won the hand. Everyone aggressively debated over who had the best hand, while me and the other player (who was also new to poker) looked on with no clue. It was eventually decided that the other guy did have a full house, and in the rules of poker, a full house does indeed beat a flush. Not wanting to risk anymore money, I called it a night.

Over the next month or so I played in home games after school a few nights a week (poker fever had gripped my school), and proceeded to get my ass kicked and went broke for the first of many times. I’ve always been hyper-competitive and could absolutely not stand losing. I devised a plan to turn the tides in my favor. I started going to the local Barnes and Noble a few times a week, and quickly read ever poker book I could get my hands on. I was the guy sitting in the comfortable chairs reading the books at the store, because I couldn’t afford to buy them.

In a few weeks after I had viciously read every poker book I could get my hands on, I became a huge winner in the local home games. Sometimes, we would play until I had won every dollar on the table. I remember my sock drawer at home being stuffed full of crinkled and worn five and ten dollars bills, at times over a thousand dollars worth. Not bad money for a broke high-school kid who previously couldn’t afford to buy poker books.

Flush with a huge bankroll I started to regularly make an hour drive to Soaring Eagle Casino (an 18+ Indian casino). At the time I was only seventeen so I would either venture up with an ID that said I was 18 or try to sneak past the security guards and make my way to the poker room. Eventually, we figured out if we went through the food court area then on to the gaming floor there was a good chance we could avoid the security guards! I remember one time I drove up with my friend Marc and we both lost all of our money (around $100 a piece) in around 30 minutes so we went back to my car to search for quarters. Loaded with quarters we stormed back into the Casino determined to win our money back and went straight to the nickel slots. Right away we hit a mega-jackpot for around $50 and went straight to the blackjack tables where we dumped it all back. I learned my lesson cheaply at a young age, the pits was no place for a true professional poker player. During this time frame I also made a couple $200 deposits onto Pokerstars and tried my luck at some $5 sit-n-gos. I was probably a slight winner in the sit-n-gos but I’d go on tilt and jump in $1-$2NL with all of my money and go bust.

By the middle of my Senior Year the home games had started to dry up and with my spending and gambling habits I found myself broke. Needing to earn some quick cash, I took a job as a janitor at the local YMCA. A month of cleaning toilets at the YMCA motivated me to buckle down and get serious about poker. I deposited a few hundred dollars onto a Party Poker skin and 4 tabled $1/$2 limit to clear the deposit bonus. Once the deposit cleared I’d cash out and deposit on a different skin again clearing the deposit bonus. I built up a bankroll of around $3000 in just a few months by clearing these bonuses. I needed around $2000 to go to Cancun with my friend for Spring Break so I cashed out and flew to Cancun and had the time of my life.

After Spring Break I started to massively multi-table Sit-n-Gos and became heavily involved in the online poker community 2+2. I became a frequent poster in the Single Table Tournament Forum. I would play around 800 sit-n-gos a month, was constantly analyzing the math behind plays (push and shove analysis) and posting hands on 2p2. I tried doing all of this while balancing an extreme partying schedule. I’d estimate I made $10,000 that summer and entered college feeling on top of the world.

Upon entering college poker took a back seat for a while, I grinded classes while enjoying all the social aspects of college life. After a few months I started to lose interest in my classes, I was not inspired by my professors or the courses I was taking. I started looking hard into my life and had no idea where it was going. With poker I felt fully intellectually engaged for the first time since I was a little kid. I was working my way up the SNG ranks and was doing very well at the $100 sit-n-gos. I was starting to make several thousand dollars a month. I was starting to seriously consider that I had a realistic shot of playing poker for a living.

As February rolled around, a close online friend (whom I’d never met in real life) David ‘Raptor517′ Benefield told me I had to go to Vegas and play in a heads up tournament that a well known 2+2 poster “Irieguy” was hosting. I decided this was a once in a lifetime opportunity so I packed my bags and headed to Vegas. In Vegas I met a bunch of 18 and 19 year old guys who like me were making unbelievable amounts of money playing online poker, salaries that rivaled their parents. But unlike me they no longer attended college, instead they traveled the world playing the biggest tournaments they were allowed to enter (being underage), and living the good life. This was the inspiration I needed to take some time off from college and follow my dreams. Upon returning to Michigan I dropped all my classes and started grinding ten hours a day while still living in the dorm at school.

The first big live tournament I played was the PCA in the Bahamas. I stayed with Durrrr, John Little, Peter “Apathy” Jetten, and Shannon Shorr. It was a great trip, being able to hang around all the top online players for a week.

A little while after that trip, I took a trip out to Las Vegas and rented a house with a bunch of well known online pros. We all partied a little too hard, and the house was a complete disaster. I also made my first big poker purchase, and bought a M3 BMW and wrecked it on the third day. I fell in love with Vegas and decided that someday, I would move here full time. But for now, I was going to head to Europe and play some tournaments and see the world.

I made the trip across the Atlantic with Alan “The Usher” Sass, Peter Jetten, Mario Silverstri and played the EPT’s in Barcelona, London, and Aruba. While in Europe we had some free time and visited Italy. I was living the dream, traveling the world with great friends, all because of poker.

When we arrived back in the states, I went back to East Lansing to hang out with my college friends and start grinding online. I was not enrolled in classes, but was living on campus. My poker skills were improving and I became one of the biggest winners at $5 – $10 NL on Full Tilt. It was an amazing time for me, it seemed that I had so many things I could do with my poker abilities, and I was ready to take on the world.

My first major road block was Uncle Sam. I decided that I was going to be a good citizen and report all my poker winnings, unlike many people in the gambling world, I felt like it was the right thing to do. I decided around this time to treat myself to a new car as well. I was able to go more then three days this time without crashing it, which was a big relief. I took another trip to Europe and spent a lot of money on fancy hotels, nights out, and high buy in tournaments. I also had my first big downswing online and started to doubt my abilities. I really did not know if I could handle this up and down lifestyle, and decided to re-enroll in school.

But not before I headed out to Vegas for another WSOP. I decided I was going to put all of my energy into improving my game and surround myself with the best online players I could find. I had a great June and July booking two huge months and went back to East Lansing on a mission.

Along with some friends from high school, we rented out a duplex in the heart of campus, and lived one hell of a frat lifestyle. I continued to run super hot online and was moving up in stakes at a rapid pace. In December, I decided that the time had finally come. I was packing up and heading to Vegas.

I really enjoy living in Las Vegas. There is never a boring day and many of my online friends have made their homes here as well. Since moving to Vegas, my online game keeps improving and I find myself at the biggest NL games offered online most days. I have also had some success in 2008 at a few WPT’s. I managed to make it very deep in the LAPC at Commerce and the Bay 101 Shooting Star.

I was also lucky enough to be selected to appear on an episode of Poker After Dark, which is a popular program that airs on NBC. As I sat at the table with Johnny Chan and Doyle Brunson, I could not help but laugh inside, and wondering if it was all a dream. Sitting with two of the greatest poker players of all time was a real honor and I will always look back at that day as a very special one.

I am amazed at how far I have come since those home games after school. It was not an easy path, there were a lot of bumps and bruises along the way. I am often asked how I got to where I am, and it is not an easy answer. But, I can say that it took a lot of hard work, and a lot of luck at the right times.

I am glad that you have made it to my site. I am looking forward to keeping you posted on how I am doing and offering some poker advice.