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Online Poker News Archives - August 26, 2005

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Copyright 2005

August 26, 2005

Dad gambles on poker career

Pat Poels took a gamble when he quit his executive-level day job to play professional poker full time.

Lucky for him, it's paying off.

Poels, who lives on the Gilbert-Mesa border in Dana Ranch, took home a gold bracelet and more than $270,000 in cash as the Hi/Lo champion at the June World Series of Poker in Omaha.

In July, the 36th annual World Series of Poker No-Limit Hold'em Championship netted him an additional $28,000.

But his new career hasn't been all winning hands.

Poels stumbled onto poker about five years ago during a vacation to Las Vegas. He said he started to play more often, winning a bit and losing a lot. A pro he befriended recommended a book to help him learn some poker skills. He started to study, and improve.

"It seems like something that's just luck, but it's not just a luck thing. There's a skill to it," he said.

Poels said playing poker as a career was a decision he made after years of study, with lots of time and money invested in playing and honing his skills.

He played semiprofessionally for about four years while still working full time at Ticketmaster in Phoenix. In April, he left Ticketmaster to focus on poker full time. Doing both had left him little time for his family or sleep, he said.

Poels' wife, Laura, was one of his biggest supporters in his decision to become a poker pro.

The father of three sons said he hesitated at the thought of giving up a lucrative career. But Laura assured him it would be OK if he earned less money, as long as he was doing what he loved.

"I couldn't be luckier. As it turned out, I've done extremely well," he said.

While Poels does play, and win, in the big national tournaments, he said he makes the bulk of his income playing in live games. Live games are smaller games with lots of betting action. The bets aren't pre-set or determined by a tournament buy-in fee.

"Tournaments are the things that get you on TV and fame, get you known. Even though a lot of the best players don't play in tournaments," he said.

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