Tom ‘durrrr’ Dwan Opens Up About High Stakes Poker

Poker icon Tom Dwan has sat down with Lee Davy for a revealing interview at the Triton Montenegro festival. The 33-year-old star opened up on all aspects of his career and also gave us a glimpse into what makes him tick.

Modest Beginnings

Like most poker players, Dwan started off with a $50 deposit online to see what all the fuss was about. Unlike nearly everyone else though, things started off with a real bang. Kicking off his career at the start of his high school senior year, Dwan quickly turned $50 into $10k-$15k.

By the summer, this had grown to a $30k bankroll. A tidy sum, yet not enough to be harbouring any kind of ambition of what was to come later.

It was now time to fly the nest and head to Boston University to complete his education. During the first year there was still time for some poker and the bankroll continued to grow. By the end of his freshman year it stood at an impressive $80k, and yet still there were no thoughts of a career in the game.

The real turning point came at the cash game level $200/$400. Again quickly, and seemingly with no mind-bending variance, Dwan put together a run of about $120k profit from those stakes alone.

With so much success so early, nobody could have been surprised when he took the decision to drop out and to give poker a real shot. The journey was now well underway.

Rising to the Top

How far Dwan could go at this stage was still an open question. Now, The goal was just to continue improving, and so he worked long solitary hours plugging away to remove any leaks in his game.

The turning point came when he started to meet up in person with other players who were smart and had a lot of potential. This change took things to a whole new level. Characters such as Phil Galfond played a huge role in how things eventually turned out.

In all this time Dwan has still never taken on a coach. Though that is likely because, as he admits, it was hard to find somebody he believed was so far above his level.

On this subject, Dwan smiles and kind of shows a negative view towards to the prevalence of online training sites making everyone good. It’s likely this was more a joke directed at his friend Galfond who has made a successful career out of the niche.

Dwan the Man

Davy now moves onto subjects less about Dwan’s career and more about how he thinks about himself and the world.

At the start of the conversation, Dwan opens up about poker allows him to make more of his own choices and pursue his own path. Following the herd is definitely not for him. He does, however, think he is capable of following rules, it’s just that he can’t help himself asking why all of the time. More than most, he needs full confidence that what he is doing is the right way.

On how he keeps his mental state in tip top condition, Dwan has a lot of positive things to say about meditation. Like many of us have realised though, this is more to do with living a good life than only about poker.

Talking about the money side of being a professional poker, Dwan shows that this is clearly something he has thought about a lot. He thinks that the capitalist society is far from a perfect system, but it does have a lot of good points.

When he says his chasing of money in the poker world is only a means to an end, we can conclude that this is only from a life perspective. It is impossible to play so much poker only thinking about the profits. There simply has to be an inherent love for the game to reach such as level.

In terms of what kind of a thinker Dwan is, Davy leads him to reveal that he operates best when working with the ideas of others. Working in a CEO style role, where he has to be original and come up with his own systems, is just not how he is wired.

Outside of poker Dwan tells how he does have plans to “change the world”, but this will come later, after poker. Revealing this looks to cause some slight shyness and he remains coy about revealing any more details.

For Now

Dwan is working hard right now with his live poker career alongside helping the Triton Poker Series. He has many ideas that might come to fruition over the coming year or so.

He talks a bit about how the new Short Deck Hold’em craze can do a great deal to attract players bored with regular formats.  Particularly when it comes to tournaments. This is because the equities run so close and we are still at the point where even the best players haven’t got everything worked out yet.

One point that he makes at the end, when prompted for a piece of advice for anybody in their life, is not to be afraid to make mistakes. This sounds just like what you would expect from Dwan

Although it all looks to have worked out straightforwardly for him over the years, he has fearlessly ploughed through any obstacles that came in his way. This is also how he has played poker in front of millions of fans and became the most talked about player in the modern era.


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