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A Poker Life -- Adam 'Roothlus' Levy

2010 World Series of Poker Main Event 12th-Place Finisher Talks About a Career in Poker


Adam 'Roothlus' LevyWhen 11-time bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth was emceeing at the 2008 UB Aruba Poker Classic, he stumbled upon Adam Levy.

Hellmuth had some needling ready for Levy, who had received some television airtime for a pot he won against Hellmuth in the 2008 World Series of Poker main event.

“Hellmuth came up to me and was like, ‘this is the idiot who plays a queen and a 10,’” Levy recalled. “I replied, ‘I am on UB now,’ and Hellmuth was like, ‘Oh — well congratulations.’ It was pretty funny. We are friendly now, though.”

Although Levy, who signed with UB a couple months after his 48th-place finish in the 2008 main event, had received notoriety from the confrontation with his eventual fellow UB member, he was anything but an idiot from northern Florida.

Known in the online world as “Roothlus,” Levy has been one of the top tournament players in cyberspace since 2006. In his online career, the 28-year-old has amassed nearly $1.5 million from the touch of a mouse.

Levy became interested in poker, like many of his peers, from watching coverage of Chris Moneymaker’s 2003 main-event run, as well as from repeatedly viewing the quintessential poker movie — Rounders.

While learning the basics of Texas hold’em at home games, Levy, who started off as the worst player, soon became eager to experience more of poker than just the $2-$4 limit hold’em and $1-$2 no-limit, $50-max games he and his friends ran.

After a couple months playing small-stakes cash games with buddies, Levy decided to deposit money online. At the age of 21, Levy, who was off for the summer after a year in community college, embarked on the tumultuous road to becoming a poker pro.

Finding traction started off as a slow process, but after six months, Levy finally made a significant score for his meager bankroll.

“I won a $100 tournament for $6,000,” Levy said. “Though, I wasn’t using my bankroll correctly. I put $100 on it when I had about $500 in my account. Even though I knew that I had been lucky, winning something like that meant I had some natural talent for poker. I decided to really try and make it work.”

"I would lose the job, lose the $3,000 bankroll, and then find another job."However, the win failed to provide long-term funds for the struggling poker player, as Levy eventually went broke.

Working on the side as a server, Levy relied on waiting tables to help him get back into the game that he loved. Even though the job provided a consistent source of income at a time when the poker swings meant going broke, Levy always viewed serving as a means to an end.

“My heart never was in the serving jobs,” Levy said. “I did it because it was a good job, and I was good at it. It was nice for someone in their early 20s. I would earn money and then use it to play poker. If I had a decent score, I would lose motivation for serving. I would quit, get fired, or something like that. It happened four or five times. I would lose the job, lose the $3,000 bankroll, and then find another job.”

The cycle continued for a while, making Levy’s future in poker unclear. Instead of going to family for assistance, one of Levy’s friends had an offer to help him earn some money.

“I don’t think I was ever in trouble,” Levy said. “My parents would have helped me out if it really came down to it, if I came to them. It could have come to a point where I had no money, and I’d have to give up poker. At one point my friend wanted to keep me in the game, so he let me deal the home games, and I would play with the tips that I got.”

The tips were small, but Levy, who at one point was faced with the possibility of an intervention at the hands of his parents, used the much-needed cash to start the grind over again. It didn’t take long before he used $30 in tips to establish a new bankroll.

After winning a couple online tournaments and recording some other decent scores, Levy was back to the usual — grinding online.

Levy, who has roots in the Magic: the Gathering card game, was running well with his rejuvenated cash flow. One week he made $30,000, and by January of 2005 the game had clicked for Levy. At that point he was finally able to call himself a professional.

Over the next five years, Levy established himself as one of the most consistent players in the online world. His largest online score to date is a second-place finish in a Full Tilt Poker 2009 FTOPS event for $387,500.

While he has achieved the online tournament success that he had always dreamed of, brick-and-mortar casino events have recently been where Levy has had his large paydays.

Levy at a WPT final table

A few months after his deep run in the 2008 main event, Levy made a final table at the World Poker Tour Festa al Lago $15,000 no-limit hold’em championship event. He finished in fifth place for a $266,445 score.

With a deep run at the WSOP main-event bracelet already on his poker résumé, Levy began poker’s most prestigious tournament this past summer with realistic expectations.

“I never thought I would surpass my 48th-place finish,” Levy said. “I thought it was a possibility, but definitely not two years later.”

Remarkably, Levy was able to improve significantly on his 2008 result. At the final two tables of the main event this past July, Levy was just three eliminations away from a spot in the November Nine.

With a short stack of roughly 16 big blinds, Levy decided to shoved from under the gun with the KSpade Suit QHeart Suit. Unfortunately for the Orlando native, he ran into the pocket aces of Jonathan Duhamel and was sent home in 12th place.

“I doubled up early in the day but totally went card dead the rest of the way,” Levy said. “I was lucky to get 12th. I’m not 100 percent happy with how I busted, but I probably would have gone out in that place anyway. It took me about a month to get over it. It hurt a lot because I was so close. Ultimately, it is what it is, and it’s in the past. You have to look forward.”

Even though Levy said he views himself as a senior citizen in online poker, the future seems bright for the young poker pro.

Levy deep in the 2010 main eventWith a bulging catalog of online scores, a WPT final table, two deep WSOP main-event runs, and an endorsement deal to boot, Levy has no regrets about his decision to leave school and play poker for a living. He loves his job.

“I remember thinking in the third grade that a 9-5 job wasn’t something I really wanted to do,” Levy said. “It didn’t seem appealing or fun to me. I really enjoy being my own boss now, setting my own hours, and taking off whenever I want. There are some great things about being a professional poker player. It’s a great job, if you can do it and handle it.”

Overcoming the setbacks and challenges associated with a life in poker has proved to be manageable for Levy, who has nearly $3 million in career tournament earnings. Although he has found a solid place in poker as one of the game’s best, he is humble and content with the path he took to reach success.

“It took me a long time to get to a good point,” Levy said. “My career didn’t start by depositing $50 and never looking back. I think some of those stories out there like that are a bit of B.S. sometimes. I lost a lot of money before I became good, and I am OK with that. It helped me see a lot of things differently and appreciate where I’m at now.”



over 11 years ago

What a great article! Great to hear the "real" side of becoming an online pro. The grind, going broke over and over, etc. None of this "deposited $50 once and never looked back" horse shit.