Aug. 21, 2007
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
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
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
“I think he enjoys what he does for work
now,” he said. “It’s enough being a hobby.”