Poker’s Most Overqualified Professionals!

1 month ago
Poker’s Most Overqualified Professionals!
07:26
18 Sep

Poker players are generally considered to be among the smarter people in any room, although perhaps that should be winning professional players, but just how educated are the best of the best?

It’s well-known that English pro Liv Boeree is a smart cookie, the 36-year old boasting a First Class Honours degree in physics and astrophysics from Manchester University.

Add that to her WSOP and EPT titles, as well as almost $4million in tournament winnings and Boeree has claims to being one of the brightest of the best.

She wasn’t the first poker pro to show some serious cleverclogs credentials. Andy Bloch, who finally landed a WSOP bracelet in 2012, had started playing poker some 20 years previously.

With two university degrees, the first in electrical engineering from the world-famous MIT and then a Doctor of Jurisprudence from Harvard, Bloch is a match for almost anyone in the brainy stakes.

It was while studying in Massachusetts that Bloch first achieved fame and fortune, as part of the infamous MIT blackjack team – who used card-counting techniques to win.

Later, us online casinos would implement continuous shuffle machines in an attempt to prevent such sophisticated and talented people from breaking the bank.

Bill Chen was another WSOP bracelet winner who could paper his home with certificates and diplomas, the man triple-majoring as an undergraduate in maths, physics and computer science in St. Louis.

Chen then added a Ph.D in Maths from University of California and would go on to co-author The Mathematics of Poker.

 Chris Jesus Ferguson is another who spent as much time studying as he did at anything else, the 2000 Main Event winner following in his parents’ footsteps.

Both his mother and father have doctoral degrees in maths, but Chris went one better and added a computer science Ph.D to his at double masters in maths and computer science at UCLA.

Barry Greenstein had similar intentions to Ferguson, but although he finished a B.Sc in Computer Science, he never did complete his Ph.D. Michael Craig, in his famous book ‘The Professor, The Banker and the Suicide King’, explained that Greenstein earned too much playing poker to spend time finishing the degree.

Annie Duke, sister of Howard Lederer - the Professor from the title above - was another of poker’s more infamous and highly intelligent professionals.

Duke majored in English and Psychology at Columbia before moving on to Cognitive Psychology, although she swapped that for poker after getting married.

Law degrees are very popular among poker pros, with the winningest female tournament player of all time, Vanessa Selbst, gaining hers from Yale.

Another Vanessa, this time Vanessa Rousso, took 14 years to complete hers, but it wasn’t a lack of intellect that delayed her.

Having initially completed the fastest-ever Duke University degree - economics with political science in just two and a half years – Rousso dropped out of law school to play poker.

With several successes under her belt, Rousso was signed up by PokerStars – playing under her nickname Lady Maverick. She eventually returned to complete her law degree in 2018.

With maths and solvers more prominent in the game, and the need to have a fallback position more important than ever in the life of a wannabe poker pro, it will be interesting to see in a few years how the new generation match up with poker’s cleverest legends!


Articles 1963

Andrew from Edinburgh, Scotland, is a professional journalist, international-titled chess master, and avid poker player.Read more

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