Nov 26, 2018
By Sean Chaffin
Be careful raising Brent Kallman’s blinds. He’s quite the defender and is used to repelling attackers as a center back for Major League Soccer’s Minnesota United FC. His competitive nature has served him well, and he was among the chip leaders after the first break in Day 3 in the WPT Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open.
“I’m having a lot of fun,” he says. “This is the biggest buy-in I’ve ever played, so I had a bit of nerves in the beginning, but got off to a pretty good start on Day 1. I kind of settled in and just been trying to have fun and play my game.”
Kallman grew up in Woodbury, MN, and played soccer for four years at Creighton University. After college, he signed with United when the club was a member of the North American Soccer League. His brother Brian was also on the team at the time and Kallman did well in a tryout and was added to the roster. He moved on to the MLS when the team transitioned to the top level of American soccer in 2017 and is still on the squad.
Soccer runs in the family and his sister Kassey also plays in the National Women’s Soccer League. United struggled in its first two seasons in MLS, but showed a bit of improvement in total goals and added one more win than in 2017 (11). He played in 47 games the last two years and even scored two goals in 2017.
MLS.com notes this about his play: “His height is a huge asset on both ends of the pitch, clearing lofted balls out of MNUFC’s penalty area and nodding home crosses into the opponent’s net.”
Kallman got into poker by watching it on television with his brother as a teenager. He’s definitely not a beginner. He plays regularly at Minnesota casinos and has more than $131,000 in live tournament winnings. His biggest finish came in 2014 when he won a $770 Main Event at the Horseshoe Poker Classic in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Kallman topped a field of 134 players and took home $25,512.
“It’s always just been a hobby of mine,” he says. “Sports and athletics and soccer always came first, but I love to play.”
There are many stories of professional athletes playing cards while on the road or to kill some time during training camp or spring training. Minnesota United players occasionally play during preseason when they travel a bit, but not too much during the season. Unfortunately, he notes: “We don’t have many card players on the team. They’re not very good.”
As his deep run continues at the Hard Rock, Kallman’s phone has been blowing up with friends and family checking his progress. In the event he makes the final table, his father might even make the trip to south Florida. He’s not a player but loves to watch the action on the felt.
A few teammates might be following along as well. How does playing a major poker event like a WPT Main Event compare to the playing field?
“It’s a little bit different,” he says. “This is my hobby. This is what I do during the offseason, but I really enjoy the challenge because I’m up against a lot of players who are definitely a lot better than me. It’s unique in that sense. In soccer, that’s my thing and I’m very comfortable in that environment.
“Here, I’m out of my comfort zone a little bit and playing against some really, really good players. That’s part of the reason I do this, I like the challenge.”
Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer in Crandall, Texas. His work appears in numerous websites and publications. Follow him on Twitter @PokerTraditions.
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