Professional poker is bafflingly mesmerising. The people at the table don’t even smile. Their faces barely shift at all, and when they do move, it’s to push plastic into the middle of a table.
And yet the stakes feel so incredibly real. It’s a captivating game; more about people than it is about money or cards.
The poker players who master it often become people of note within the fan community. New Zealand is home to many such poker geniuses. The history of poker in NZ is rich and fascinating. In this article, we look at a few NZ-based pros you should keep your eyes on.
Lee Nelson, one of the oldest players on our list at 80 years old, is a retired doctor. For most of his life, Lee Nelson treated poker primarily as a hobby. He was, after all, quite busy with medicine. His published works on prostate cancer, as well as several books on health and wellness, are held in high esteem within the medical community.
With a highly-respected career as a doctor, it’s easy to wonder just how much success a person can be expected to experience in one lifetime. For Nelson, the answer to that question is, “Quite a bit.”
It began in 2004 when Nelson won the St. Maarten’s tournament. It was there that he developed his signature look of wearing a Hawaiian shirt any time he made it to the final table. Nelson has every reason to view his time on the pro circuit as a vacation. Since 2004, he has amassed over $2 million in recognised earnings and remains a formidable face in the game even at his advanced age.
Though much younger, Simon Watt made his professional victory debut at around the same time as Nelson at the 2009 Auckland APPT event, after having only started playing poker just 4 years earlier. One year later, Watt would claim his first (and currently only) gold bracelet at the World Series of Poker in a heated match against the well-established Tom “durrrr” Dwan.
Since then, he has netted around $700k in professional winnings.
Professional poker is a game dominated by men. But Australia native Jackie Glazier aims to change that. Glazier has been on the poker scene for decades, earning a gold bracelet along with almost $1,000,000 in professional earnings. However, her fame is hardly limited to the poker table.
Since reaching international attention for her deft play and steely nerves, Glazier has become something of a reality TV star, after appearing on an international edition of “Big Brother.”
Glazier was a relatively late poker adopter, taking the game up in her late 20s after taking an interest in the “World Series of Poker,” television coverage back in 2005. For a few years, she made a name for herself as a grinder on the lower tour circuits before going pro in 2012. Prematurely, as she describes it. Glazier said that she made so many mistakes in her early days as a pro that she nearly threw in the towel. It’s a good thing she didn’t. She wound up claiming several victories during her opening season, resulting in six-figure earnings.
She is now an internationally known player and is frequently cited as being one of the most notable women players in the industry.
Dan Sing remains what you might call an up-and-comer in the world of professional poker. He hasn’t struck it big yet with any major victories—the live earnings poker database places him at position 17,102 in official earnings, which is to say that he is far from setting records at this point.
And yet he remains a player to keep an eye on. With more than $100,000 in lifetime earnings, and an impressive standing within the New Zealand poker community (currently ranked 38th on the national money list). Sing shows an impressive level of promise. Isn’t it always exciting to spot a player at a final table and say, “I’ve been following them since before they were famous!”? Sing, with his bold play and impressive skill, is giving you that chance.
Think you have what it takes to be the best poker player in the world? It takes skill and practice. Think about checking out this poker advanced strategy guide to help you along the way. When you’ve read it, don’t forget to try out your skills with some online poker.