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Poker News: July 2nd, 2010

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Copyright © The Windsor Star

HEADLINE: Ont. man making himself a good bet in international poker

He goes by the nickname “chapmoney” and he was 20 years old and living with his parents in Windsor, Ont., when he dropped out of school to play poker for a living.

In the three years since, he has made hundreds of thousands of dollars and a name for himself on the web, where poker sites track his cashes and where one christened him the best big money single-table tournament player on the planet last year.

Chapmoney’s real name is Mike Chappus, an affable, articulate man who likes golfing and throwing back the brews with the boys. He had winnings of more than $28,000 US in online tournaments last month alone, including a $14,000 US Poker Stars score on June 17.

He earned his biggest live game win ever one week later at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, where he placed fourth in a field of 847 players, outlasting competitors including Phil Hellmuth, Barry Greenstein and Chris (Jesus) Ferguson, to take home nearly $72,000 US.

Chappus won another $6,000 US a few days later when he placed sixth in a Bellagio Cup event, but he has his eyes on a bigger prize — the World Series Main Event, which kicks off Monday with thousands of sharks and celebrities seeking fame and a multimillion-dollar payout.

“Anything can happen and I have as good a chance as anybody,” says Chappus over the phone from Las Vegas. “With that many players, you have to get pretty lucky to do well. I’m not getting ahead of myself or anything. Whatever happens, happens.”

Chappus was just an 18-year-old kid delivering pizzas and soon to work part time at Walmart when he opened an online poker account with a couple of hundred dollars. He gave himself the handle chapmoney — a nickname to which he and his friends have since grown accustomed.

Like most players, Chappus lost at first and began to worry how he would pay off with his meagre wages the growing debt on his $1,500 Visa card. Unlike most players, though, Chappus turned those losses around and began to consistently win, slowly but surely building his bankroll until it crested $30,000.

He focused more on cards and less on his studies at the University of Windsor as the months progressed. Then, one evening in the autumn of 2007, Chappus opted to put off cramming for an early-morning science exam and entered an online poker tournament instead. He figured he would get knocked out in a couple of hours and then hit the books, but he wound up finishing second and pocketing $65,000.

“I thought I would go study when I lost in a few hours, but it went to seven in the morning and my exam was at eight,” says Chappus, now 23. “I was just going to take a break. I was dead tired by the time it ended and I didn’t end up studying at all. I went to that exam and I failed.”

With his bankroll now busting $100,000, Chappus, who was still too young for the card rooms of Vegas, dropped out of school to focus on poker like a real job, trying to play online and at Caesars Windsor for at least 45 hours a week, with at least one day away from the tables. “It set me up to afford the bad runs because poker is a very streaky game,” says Chappus. “No matter how good you are, you are going to go through bad runs. Everyone does. You just have to battle through it.”

While Chappus felt confident in his career choice, his parents, Rick, a retired firefighter, and Michelle, a retired teacher, had their reservations. “At first, my parents were really worried. They thought it was gambling, like going to the casino and playing blackjack,” says Chappus. “Poker is more about skill than pure luck. If you’re good, you can make a living at it.”

Michelle admits she and her husband were “apprehensive” when their son embraced such a non-traditional career — one fraught with inherent risk. “The boy could have been anything, he was so bright,” says Michelle. “My expectations were that he would go to school and go on from there.”

Chappus urged his parents to let him grind it out as a pro for a year and they agreed, with some reluctance, to support his efforts. “It was difficult to let go of the reins and the expectations we had for him but we’re happy he’s succeeding on the path he’s chosen,” she said.

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Article downloaded from the World Wide Web on July 5th, 2010

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