Faded Spade and Getting Paid? Card Company Founder Jumps in WPT Bobby Baldwin Classic

May 20, 2018

By Sean Chaffin

Tom Wheaton

Tom Wheaton (pictured) just knew he could do better. A businessman and card player, Wheaton was tired of reading headlines about poor card quality and card-printing errors at major tournaments.

It seemed crazy that with so much money on the line players had to worry about such things, and the 38-year-old entrepreneur from Orlando, Florida, decided he was the man to help fix the problem.

Vision Turned Reality and Then Some

An executive in corporate sales and marketing, Wheaton had a vision for what poker cards could be – improved artistry, fresh and modern face card designs, and 100 percent casino-grade plastic for top-notch quality, durability, and longevity. He envisioned cards perfect for the felt at a major tournament or for dealing at a casual home game among friends.

So far, so good. In just a year and a half, Wheaton’s vision, Faded Spade playing cards, has turned into a reality. So much so that Faded Spade playing cards are now the preferred playing cards of the World Poker Tour.

“I felt like there was a gap in the industry where there wasn’t a true poker playing card, and I felt like the cards had stayed the same for years,’ Wheaton, company founder and CEO, told WPT.com. “There was an opportunity to modernize playing cards for today’s poker.”

After determining that he was indeed ready to give it a go, Wheaton jumped in full throttle, learning the business and what poker players expected in a high-quality card. That even included a larger index for the numbers and letters – just large enough that visibility at the table is optimal, but not overdoing it. The cards have been popular with players so far.

“It was all education, all research,” Wheaton said of his learning curve in the business. “It’s just being a poker player.”

The company’s consumer business started about eight months ago, and Faded Spade kicks off its poker room business this week, which has been a year in the making. Wheaton said he has proposals out to 12 casinos and hoping to reach out to more soon. Faded Spade cards have been used at every final table on the WPT since the WPT L.A. Poker Classic at Commerce Casino in February. However, this week marks the first time the cards will be used throughout an entire event when the Season XVI WPT Tournament of Champions kicks off Thursday, May 24.

“We’re excited,” Wheaton said. “We think this is going to be a launching point for us.

Getting in on the Action

While he may be a poker player and head of a card manufacturer, playing a major tournament like the WPT Bobby Baldwin Classic is a bit new to Wheaton. A player of cash games for the last 12 years, Wheaton has jumped in on the inaugural event at ARIA Resort & Casino and is playing the largest buy-in event he’s ever played. He’s not doing it alone, though. Through his company’s partnership with YouStake.com, Wheaton was able to sell about 80 percent of his action for the event.

“I went to the founder of [YouStake] and said, ‘Let’s work together to promote both our brands,” Wheaton said. “It’s also a way to show players that you can get into a tournament above your limits if you get your family and supporters to back you. This is my first $10,000 tournament.”

Despite his inexperience at this level, Wheaton is still looking to find some spots and areas to take advantage.

I would consider myself one of the less experienced in here now,” Wheaton said. “So it’s a matter of having a mental game. Can I stay sharp? Can I follow my game plan and play well? Let’s see what happens.”

At the first break of Day 1, Wheaton had moved his starting chip stack of 30,000 up to 45,000. He was then at 53,000 by Level 6, and he’s cruising around 75,000 with about an hour left to play on the opening day.

“I’m happy with the progress,” Wheaton said. “I’ve made a couple mistakes, but I’ve also made a couple of good plays. I’m going to keep following the game plan the best I can.”

For more on Faded Spade, including how you can get yourself a deck or two, check out FadedSpade.com.

If you’re interested in becoming a WPT champion, you can play for your chance on ClubWPT.com. ClubWPT is where eligible VIP members can play for more than $100,000 in cash and prizes each month, including seats to WPT events. No purchase is necessary for the ClubWPT sweepstakes and the service is void in states where prohibited. See terms and conditions at ClubWPT.com.

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