Just What the Doctor Orderer

May 21, 2018

By Sean Chaffin

Eli Berg

When it comes to medical emergencies and life-threatening injuries, Eli Berg has seen it all. The 50-year-old Boston emergency room physician knows all about stressful situations. It’s just part of the job. While he may be making a deep run in the WPT Bobby Baldwin Classic here at ARIA, Berg has the steely nerves of a doctor who’s treated every type of injury or malady one could imagine.

After buying into the event at the beginning of Day 2, Berg continued to battle throughout the afternoon. For this player, poker is more recreational – a way to relax and get away from his busy work life. That’s not to say he’s a slouch at the tables. Berg plays about six events each year and has more than $500,000 in live tournament winnings.

That total includes two nice scores in $25,000 buy-in events this year. In February, Berg finished sixth at the U.S. Poker Open in Las Vegas for $73,500 and followed that up the same month at the WPT L.A. Poker Classic with a fifth-place result for $94,625.

With a decent stack well into the afternoon, Berg was looking for an even bigger score. He had moved his chip stack from the original 30,000 to 80,000 and was still alive with 35 players remaining.

“I just love the game,” Berg said. “I had some friends that were out here and it fit into my schedule. I didn’t actually have that much time for the tournament, so I registered today at the last minute.”

How does playing poker compared to his regular job?

“Poker has some similarities because you have a lot of periods of just kind of calm, relative calm – a little bit of action, but nothing too exciting,” Berg said. “Then all of a sudden you find yourself in the thick of something. So they’re kind of pretty similar in that regard.”

Along with being a way to relax, Berg likes the mental aspects of poker and the thought processes involved with the game.

I love the fact that you have to focus very much and stay focused in the moment – really let everything fall aside and stay very focused,” Berg said. “A big part of it is your ability to really stay in the moment.

And I like the math. I like the various permutations of people and the endless permutations of hands that can happen.”

Berg has always had a passion for medicine and helping others even from an early age. Along with working at hospital ER, Berg’s also involved in some of the business aspects of the medical field and is married with five children.

There may be plenty of action in the poker room today at ARIA, but for Berg action usually involves an ambulance and a medical team. The good news for players in ARIA? In case of emergency, a doctor is in the house. And this one is hoping to take home a title.

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