Denfeld News

Aug. 21, 2007
Duluth News Tribune

Duluth native wins $58,750 in World Series of Poker
By Brandon Stahl

When he was 10, Andrew Gunderson liked to play poker with his friends while on bus trips to hockey games. Last month, the competition was a lot tougher, and there were far more players — 6,358, to be exact — but the Duluth native finished in 111th place in the World Series of Poker main event and won $58,750.

Not a bad return on a $160 investment.

That was the buy-in for an online tournament Gunderson won to get entry into the World Series, which has a buy-in of $10,000 and is annually the largest poker tournament in the world.

Gunderson, 32, graduated from Denfeld High School in 1993 and Harvard in 1997. He lives in Hoboken, N.J., and works as a stock trader, a career that demands a deep knowledge of math and quick, tough decision-making that is well-suited to the poker felt.

Gunderson said he has been playing poker as a hobby for about seven years, qualifying last year through an online tournament to make it to the World Series. He made it to the second day before busting out.

With a year of experience under his belt, at this year’s World Series Gunderson started with a chip stack of $20,000 and built it up over several days to $850,000, making him at one point one of the bigger winners.

“I played a lot of different strategies, constantly changing my styles so people couldn’t get reads on me,” he said. “I was also running pretty good.”

His strong play earned him a spot on the TV table for a day, which was filmed by ESPN and probably will air some time in the next few weeks.

At the table, Gunderson went up against two well-known poker pros, Gavin Smith and Hasan Habib. Gunderson said during one hand he took a large pot off Habib after hitting a straight.

“He said afterward that I played the hand really well,” he said.

Gunderson’s parents, Dave and Renee, and his sister, Joannie, flew out to Las Vegas in July to watch him play and cheer for him whenever he won a hand.

Unfortunately, Gunderson’s run ended a week after the tournament started. The eventual winner took home an $8.25 million prize.

For now, Gunderson said he’ll keep his day job and plans to save the money he made, except for $10,000 of it, which he said he’ll use to buy into next year’s tournament.

Dave Gunderson, who works as an agent for Farmer’s Insurance on Miller Trunk Highway in Duluth, said he never discouraged his son from playing poker.

“I knew he was good,” he said.

Still, he doesn’t believe his son will play full-time.

“I think he enjoys what he does for work now,” he said. “It’s enough being a hobby.”

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