Gavin Griffin knows poker and a few others

Someone you feel sorry for. Someone who comes to a weekly poker game and loses every time the group gathers. Someone who always becomes a failure and ends up going home, no matter what kind of card they have or how smart they are (or silly) they play.

Of course, it’s hard to guess now that Griffin has done amazing things in poker, becoming a pro and earning more than $4 million in prize money over the past three years. However, Griffin wasn’t always a good figure when he was playing poker. That’s until he decides that enough is enough and starts to immerse himself in every aspect of the game.

“I think I’ve had enough of losing in the end,” said Griffin, remembering the summer days of his freshman year at Texas Christian University, when he returned to Illinois and started playing regular games with some friends three to four times a week. “We used to play in my friend’s basement. It was because of really little money. We played $20 buy-in and a lot of wild card games. But whatever we did, I always seemed to lose.”

Admitting that he was never a great student, Griffin decided to study. He picked up as many poker books as he could (his favorite is David Sklansky’s The Poker Theory) and started playing online games regularly. In his second year of college, he searched for games available and devoted as much time as possible to studying poker than he took as a speech therapy major.

He took the nugget, but gradually things started clicking for him. And in the end, his dedication paid off. When he was a junior, Griffin became a dangerous player. He further honed his skills by taking on poker hands at East Chicago in Harrer during the summer and at a local private club in Texas during the school year.

“At least three or four of the people who were in the game made a living playing poker, so I learned more from it than anything else, especially playing individual games,” he said. “During the summer, I would trade at Harakh from Saturday to Tuesday and go and play on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. It was a gradual learning process, but once I learned about it, I started making more money than I ever did. That’s when I decided I didn’t want to trade. I wanted to play poker full time.”

The decision did not go well with his parents, but Griffin made it a success. His breakthrough came in 2004, when he became the youngest person to win a World Series poker title after capturing a bracelet with a victory in the $3,000 Pot Limit Texas Hold’em event.

“I called home and told my friends and family that I won and they hardly believed in me,” remembers Griffin, who cashed in $240,000 for the win. “It was my first time in Vegas and obviously it was my first World Series. I know some great players who have played for a long time and they haven’t won one yet, so I feel very lucky to have won one this early in my career. It was a surreal feeling.”

Despite the win, Griffin still had to go through some growing pains as a professional. He went through a few lean years, but he kept learning from his mistakes.

“I won the World Series, and I thought I could do it, but this game humbles you,” he says. “When it comes to poker, you can never stop learning. If you think there’s something to learn, you’re looking at the game the wrong way. You’re preventing yourself from becoming a better player.”

In 2007, Griffin snatched another big feather in his hat when he won the European Poker Tour Grand Final in Monte Carlo, after earning a spot through the PokerStars satellite. This victory paid him nearly $2.5 million and moved him to the top of the all-time European Poker Tour winning list. Earlier this year, he won the Borgata Winter Open and pumped in $1.4 million more, becoming the first person to win a World Series bracelet, an EPT event, and a WPT event in the process. The win in Bogaerts was especially special because it was the first time his parents saw him play in person.

“It was wonderful because it wasn’t that long ago you asked me when I was going out and looking for a real job,” he says with a smile. “My dad is a hard worker and he’s been a firefighter for 37 years. I just had a hard time understanding the fact that he made a living playing poker. But seeing that I’m making it and I’m making a living doing it, he’s been a lot more supportive.”

At 26, Griffin, who plays poker four days a week, still has a lot of time to achieve more as a poker player, in addition to playing online games for 15 to 20 hours a week. His biography for PokerStars states that he had already achieved so much before the age of 30 that he “could be one of the greatest players this game has ever seen.” When he hears the quote, Griffin warns that while he likes kind words, leaving a legacy as a professional poker player is not something he is overly concerned about.

“It’s nice for someone to say that about me, but it’s not why I play the game,” he says. “I play the game because it’s something I really love to do and I can enjoy it and earn a living from it. I don’t think about sitting back and trying to win 30 bracelets or be one of the best players. I’m not really into those kinds of things and I always will be.” Griffin will compete in his fifth World Series starting later this month. He plans to compete in between 25 and 30 events, including the main event, which has been rarely successful in the past.

“I don’t know what it is, but I really didn’t perform too well at the main event,” said Griffin, who made it to Day 2 only once out of five. “The way I play tournaments, I usually go out pretty early or I have a lot of chips. I’m very aggressive. I’m not afraid to put chips in. I try to take every aspect of myself as much as I can. I think I have to make chips to be successful and that didn’t work out for me at the main event. Hopefully that will change this year.” 파칭코

Finding Griffin in Rio this year won’t be difficult. To raise awareness about breast cancer, Griffin dyed his hair pink for nearly six months last year, and he was actually showing off the look when he won the European Poker Tour. This year, he will wear a different style of pink shirt every day, with his hair not pink.

“I already have about 10 nice-looking pink shirts in my closet,” he says with a smile. “I need to find another 10 or 15 somehow.” Her battle with breast cancer is close to Griffin’s heart because of his girlfriend, Christine, who was diagnosed with the disease in 2003, about two years before she met Griffin. This October she will celebrate five years of recovery, a huge milestone, and Griffin has always done everything he can to support her.

Griffin, who lives in the Los Angeles area with Christine, says, “It was nice because I think it really raised the profile, and to be honest, I loved having pink hair. That’s who I am.” “Like I said, it’s all about having fun and enjoying life. All I want is to be happy. When poker is no longer fun, I’ll stop playing games and think about doing something different with my life. But right now, I’m having a great time and there’s nothing I want to do in the world right now.”

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