Poker as a Game of Skill

Start with the worst hand, and it’s all uphill

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It’s two minutes before the cards are in the air, and my heart is racing. I look around at the competition—faces I recognize from TV—and the excitement is palpable. To my left is Barry Greenstein, a world-class poker star who has won millions of dollars in tournaments and countless more in endorsements. To my right is David “The Dragon” Pham, another seasoned pro who, although less well known outside the poker world than Greenstein, is perhaps the most successful tournament player of the past two years. Other top pros at my table include Nam Le, Allen Kessler, and Anna Wroblewski.

This is day two of the Legends of Poker No-Limit Challenge at the Bicycle Casino in Southern California. Of the original 100 entrants—mostly top pros, but also a few amateurs like me—27 players remain. With $55,000 in chips after day one, I’m in second place. I’m playing extremely well, and at this point, anything less than a top-10 finish will be a disappointment.