By The Grinder
Some ‘Rags to Riches’ stories are popular, specially in Hollywood. Jim Carrey’s is one that comes to my mind. Oprah’s is another. Obama . . . Ralph Lauren … Jimi Hendrix – there are plenty more. However, Poker Rags to Riches stories are catchier and much more exciting, knowing that the skills that got them there required nothing more than sitting on a chair, and being a bad-ass poker player—reading skills, math skills, intuitive skills—all of these needed for them to, well, to put it simply, sit on their bottoms, and throw poker chips around. I would like to tell you three Poker Rags to Riches stories. The beginnings of these stories might not be the conventional ‘Growing up poor in the Bronx . . .’ types, however, they do involve my favorite poker players—The Holy Triumvirate of Poker: Chan, Kid, and Ivey.
Johnny Chan moved to Houston at the age of 11, and struggled in his family’s street restaurant, till he funded himself to attend the University of Houston. He started taking time off on the weekends to prove his poker skills. He did so, and how? By winning back-to-back WSOP Main Events in 1987 and 1988. From a Chinese restaurant busboy to a household poker icon . . .Heeeeeeere’ss Johnnyyyyyyyyyyyy!
The short-statured son of Romanian parents, Daniel ‘Kid Poker’ Negreanu decided to move to Vegas at 22, trying to fulfill his dream of wealth and fame. Before doing this, he sneaked his way around hustling pool players and other table games. He faced bankruptcy once before moving to Vegas again, and in 2004, he hit the scene big time, winning the coveted WSOP Player of The Year title. Since then, The Kid has won four bracelets and a total of $14 million in prize money. Lesson learned. If you wanna be like The Kid, you gotta do what he did—Never give up!
Phil Ivey hustled in the back-rooms in New Jersey, and in local home games for many years. He even made himself a fake ID, to get inside an Atlantic City Casino. His perseverance paid off, as he mastered Poker in all its forms and types. From a back-room hustler to a Poker Legend, meet Phillip Dennis Ivey, Jr. – the best poker player in the world. Now you might have heard proverbs in poker like ‘No Pain No Gain’, or ‘Risk It For The Biscuit’, but as simple as the rules of this game are, the motto should also be simple; ‘Follow Your Dream’.