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A Poker Life -- David Peters

23-Year-Old Poker Pro Talks About His Breakout Year

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David PetersPoker pro David “dpeters17” Peters has finally had his breakout year.

The 23-year-old Ohio native has racked up a massive $1,392,411 in earnings in 2010, helping to cement his status in the online world and on the live circuit after having a consistent record over the past few years.

Peters is fresh off a win at the PokerStars North American Poker Tour Los Angeles. Peters dominated the $5,000 heads-up event, winning his last 10 matches to take the title and $112,257.

Peters currently sits in 16th place in the Card Player Player of the Year Race (POY) and looks to be a fixture in the standings for many more years.

The Road to Poker Success

Peters started playing the game when he was 18 and still attending high school in Toledo, Ohio. He began with freerolls online, and he eventually won one of them for $600. He has never looked back from there.

After establishing a small bankroll from nothing, Peters played $5 sit-and-gos at first and slowly progressed to higher buy-ins. After about a year of amassing a sustainable bankroll from just sit-and-gos, Peters made the transition to multi-table tournaments.

The switch to tournaments proved to a good decision for Peters, as he continued to succeed and build up his poker funds. While attending college at Bowling Green University, Peters found his poker success to be too distracting from his studies.

He studied business there for about a year and half before deciding to leave.

“It was hard to stay motivated, plus I wasn’t really interested in what I was doing,” Peters said. “Poker was going so well, so it was hard to be in school. It was a tough decision for me, but my parents were fine with it. At that point they knew it was what I wanted to do. They understood, and I obviously have the option to go back. After I left I started doing very well, and they were fine with me playing poker for a living. I felt like I was wasting time being in school.”

After dropping out, Peters lived at Bowling Green for another six months, then went back home for a few months, and then moved into a house nearby with some poker friends.

Finding a Backer

Since then, Peters has quietly put together one of the best poker résumés in the world. With his track record, Peters was able to recently find a backing deal that has helped him cope with the inevitable downswings in the life as a poker pro.

Peters' Backer Bryn Kenney“There are always downswings, but I have never gotten to the point where I have considered not playing anymore,” Peters said. “For the most part, I have always been financially on my own. So, the downswings affect me a little bit more. But, for the past year or so I have been backed by Bryn Kenney for all live tournaments. So that definitely helps with the swings. I wanted a live-only deal, where I could keep my online action. Live buy-ins add up very fast. Finding a live-only deal isn’t easy to do, so I was happy when I found one and just went with it.”

Fortunately for Kenney, the past year of the business relationship has included some of Peters’ biggest scores so far in his young career. This past summer at the World Series of Poker, Peters finished second in a $1,000 no-limit hold’em event for $350,803.

“That event was pretty smooth for awhile,” Peters said. “I picked up a lot of chips leading up to the final two tables. Some of the players were scared, so I was constantly raising and applying pressure. They were all just trying to make the final table. I went to the final table as chip leader, and I ran pretty well until heads-up play. After I got knocked out, which was still was my biggest score ever, I was probably the most tilted I have been in a long time. I really wanted that bracelet. I brushed it off eventually and still went out and partied with my friends, after a good hour or two of sulking a little bit.”

Other six-figure scores for Peters this year include $123,809 for a second-place finish in an April European Poker Tour side event, $152,213 for another runner-up ending in an August Full Tilt Poker FTOPS event, and the recent $112,257 prize for the win in the NAPT L.A. heads-up event on Nov. 12.

Peters“The NAPT event was a very tough one for me, with a lot of good players,” Peters said. “The whole tournament went incredibly smooth. Each round was best of three, and I ended up 12-1, and I won my last 10 matches. It was surprising, and I was very happy about it. I am confident in my heads-up game. It was nice to win, because it was my first time winning something other than a regular no-limit hold’em tournament.”

However, no-limit hold’em tournaments are where Peters truly shines. He attributes his success this year to staying focused, looking over hands, fixing leaks in his game, and discussing strategy with his poker friends.

“This year could have been a little nicer in a few tournaments, but I can’t complain,” Peters said. “I am always working on my game and constantly getting better. The more live poker you play the better feel you get for players. I have focused a lot more on live this year than I have in the past. I am going to be a bigger force of the live circuit in the future.”

Finally with Recognition

Now sitting with more than $3 million in career tournament earnings, Peters is finally starting to get the notoriety that has eluded him since he began playing poker five years ago.

"It is always nice to have respect from other poker players"“I am getting more recognition now,” Peters said. “I am not a big name that is on TV or anything. But the poker players that travel the circuit are recognizing me. If I don’t get recognition by people that don’t play poker that is fine with me. It is always nice to have respect from other poker players.”

Peters is enjoying his 2010 breakout campaign, and he plans on continuing to travel and make more noise with the time left in this calendar year. He said the Card Player POY race is something he always keeps is eye on.

“I am pretty far away from the lead,” Peters said. “Unless I was to win of these main events in the next couple weeks, I don’t really have a shot. It is still nice being toward the top of the leader board though. Hopefully I will be able to make a serious run next year.”