Pratyush Buddiga

The hard work ethic and competitive edge the spelling bee’s gave him paid off when he turned his attention to poker.

The 28-year old California was less than prospicient when it came to poker – and if you’re wondering what on earth that word means, ‘the cat of looking forward’ was the final word in the 2002 Scripps National Spelling Bee which lifted Buddiga the title – marking him out as a special talent, something he would go on to do in the poker world also.

Born in New Zealand, Buddiga’s family moved to Colorado when was a child, and he would go on to complete his degree on Economics at Duke University – and it was there that poker started to play a major part in his life.

Before this, however, he achieved online fame of sorts when he fainted during the latter stages of another spelling bee – the video going viral as absolutely no-one in the packed auditorium went to his aid. He recovered quickly, correctly spelled the word and finished second!

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Speaking to Cardplayer’s Julio Rodriguez back in 2014, he said: “Even when I was in college, I don’t remember working as hard as I did in those two months after winning state leading up to nationals. I was putting in 11-hour study sessions at a time. It’s incredibly intense.”

The hard work ethic and competitive edge the spelling bee’s gave him paid off when he turned his attention to poker. The best part of a decade-and-a-half on and Pratyush Buddiga had overcome the nerves and now has a stellar resume in the game.

He rode out the effects of Black Friday by relocating, firstly to Malta and then Toronto to ensure he gave his poker career all the opportunities he could. Now, with well over $5million in tournament winnings, his best score coming in the APPT High Roller in Macau – adding $ 844,571 to the $772,870 he won the year before in the same former Portuguese colony-turned gambling Mecca – Buddiga has broken into the top 100 in USA’s all-time tournament earners, which is no mean feat.

Eight further 6-figure cashes in the years afterwards have cemented Buddiga’s place in the upper echelons of the high-roller poker world. Last year, 2016, saw him lift the EPT Barcelona €25k High-Roller to add a nice title to his poker cv.

Rather surprisingly, Buddiga tends to avoid the high-stakes cash games which lure other big tournament winners and high-rollers in – preferring instead the cut-and thrust of small field, big-buy in tournaments.

One such event, about to kick off as I write, is the 2017 Super High Roller Bowl, with Buddiga once again taking his place in the $300k buy-in event which mixes the biggest names in the poker world with rich and often talented poker amateurs. Buddiga certainly deserves his spot – whether he can take down the title is another matter, but if he does nobody would be fainting in shock at it!

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