Sep 22, 2017
By Matt Clark
The mix of players at today’s Season XVI WPT Borgata Poker Open Championship final table range from future hall of famers in Cliff Josephy to part-timers making their first major splash in Guo Chen. Falling in the middle of the two is retired Wall Street trader Thomas Paul (pictured).
The MIT-educated Paul started playing poker tournaments a few years ago after learning the game in cash games before then. Paul finished thirdin the 2016 Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza III Main Event and will best that score with a fifth-place finish or better today.
Paul is a competitive person by nature and uses poker to fuel that part of his life after retiring from his life on Wall Street eight years ago. The way he learned how to play poker is unorthodox, but Paul says it has helped him since he started playing tournaments.
“I started playing poker for fun and I was playing low stakes,” Paul said. “I’m very competitive and instead of playing to win money, I played to win every hand. It didn’t matter to me how I ended the night, I just wanted to try to beat everyone out of every pot.
“Eventually, I learned to not play that way. As I went up higher in stakes it got to where I didn’t want to lose money, but that skill set of knowing how to win a hand regardless of your cards comes in handy in these tournaments. I think that’s why I’ve had a lot of success”
When the final table starts, Paul will be third in chips, most of which came from seventh place finisher Muarem Kica, who Paul doubled up through shortly before Kica was eliminated.
Paul has a unique outlook on making the WPT final table and already feels satisfied just by making it to this point.
“I don’t need people to know that I play poker, so I’m perfectly happy with second,” Paul said. “None of my competitors played with me or know who I am and I think that’s a good thing. I really respect the guys at this particular final table. In fact, I would chop the whole thing. In general, I come to the table because, since I’ve retired, I don’t have an outlet for my competitive instinct outside of poker.”
When the final table airs on Fox Sports a few months from now, Paul is excited to have his 15-year-old son watch. Paul knows that fifth place will amount to his largest score ever and has his eyes set on what he can purchase just by making it this far.
“I’m super happy already,” Paul said. “I just won $160,000 and I’m going to buy a new Tesla. If I win more, that’s good too. I guess, I’ve been deep in main events already. If I get fifth, this will be my biggest cash ever.”
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