A Poker Superstar the World Just Hasn’t Heard About Yet

A Poker Superstar the World Just Hasn’t Heard About Yet

Eric Persson likes to splash the pot just about as much as he likes to make a splash on television. And, while he may be a relatively new face in poker, it seems he’s been destined for gaming his entire life. Wearing a muscle shirt and ball cap, both branded with his company’s logos, and looking like he just arrived from a biker’s rally, the American businessman took it to the pros on the latest episode of High Stakes Poker.

“Call it ‘High Stakes Persson’, he’s on fire,” said commentator A.J. Benza, as they hit the first commercial break during Episode 11 Monday night.

Sitting at a table that included the likes of Tom Dwan, Phil Ivey, and Patrik Antonius, all legends of the game, Persson stole the show. The 47-year-old Hoquiam, Washington native, who’s Instagram bio reads, “husband, father, casino owner, cash game crusher,” is the CEO of Nevada-based Maverick Gaming, which owns and operates 27 small to medium-sized casinos across the United States. He’s also a proud member of the Shoalwater Bay Indian Nation.

“Poker has always been part of my life,” he said, during an introductory interview segment. “It put me through under grad at UNLV, it put me through law school at Georgetown, it paid all my bills, and it helped me build my company. I’ve got 30 years of experience, and I’m really looking forward to the world seeing what I bring to the table to today.”

Eric Persson introductory interview

Let’s just say, he brought the fireworks and action. Not only did he buy-in for a whopping $750,000, enough to have the entire table covered, he used those chips as weapons right from the start. Just as he’s aggressive and ambitious in the board room, Persson is electric at the poker table. Confident, brash, and hugely entertaining, he possesses a supreme gift for gab, and is always chirping at the table, trying to get in the heads of his opponents. More often than not it works, too. When this guy plays cards, he is the table captain.

As Benza aptly continued with his player profile, it didn’t take long for the viewing public to realise that “any game with Persson in it, is a game worth watching.”

A Game Worth Watching

With more than $2 million on the table, a large percentage of it in Persson’s stack, there was blood in the water, and the sharks were circling, but the opening hand was a pretty good indication of what was about to come, an onslaught of big bets and big talk. After flopping trip fives, the entrepreneur improved to a full house by the river, and had Dwan, who hit a pair of queens on the turn, betting into him the entire way.

Tom Dwan staring down Eric Persson

“I’m going to let you have a look,” Persson said, as he showed his cards to Krish Menon, the player directly on his right, giving him a sweat as the hand developed. “You blink twice if you think I should continue.”

Initially, Menon was smiling and joking, but went silent after seeing Persson’s hand, fives full of sevens, in a bid not to give anything away in the form of tells. For the record, he did not blink twice, or distinctly in any form. He was like a statue.

Dwan fired out a bet of $31,000 on fifth street, and Persson quickly responding by pushing all-in for his opponent’s last $164,000.

“I could have deuce-seven,” he declared.

That’s the truth, too. Persson could have been staring down at anything, poker’s worst starting hand included, he’s that unpredictable.

“He didn’t snap-call Patrik, that’s a good sign” he continued with his table talk, motioning toward Antonius on his left, being sure to include everyone at the table.

Then, as he stretched back in his seat, and interlocked his hands behind his head, as if totally relaxed, he said, “I’m feeling awfully confident and loose.”

Courage & Chatter

He was the picture of a high roller in all his glory, confident, and sitting with the best of it. Dwan was left pondering the game’s ultimate question, did Persson have it or not? As he deliberated, Persson kept chatting away.

“I’ve got courage son, but in this spot, I might have a monster. Why would I be bluffing here? First of all, I always have courage, but sometimes I do have a f— monster,” adding the expletive for emphasis. “It’s evil genius over here. I feel like you maybe spiked a queen on the turn. My reading skills were never that good, that’s why I just bought casinos. You don’t want to be stuck this early, this is blood. I’ll be quiet now; I feel like you’re out-talking me.”

Eric Persson with his hands behind his head

Of course, being the force of nature he is, Persson kept talking until Dwan eventually folded. In this instance, the diatribe didn’t work, and he wasn’t paid off, but he certainly tried his best to persuade the call. Dwan then offered $2,000 to see his cards, and always the businessman, Persson gladly obliged. Good deal, right? He raked in a $243,500 pot, plus an extra couple grand for tipping money.

Fans were getting good value for their PokerGo subscription money, and social media blew up. It was quite a spectacle. Here you had a deep-pocketed recreational player who ikes to talk against some of the best cash game specialists on the planet, and the amateur was winning.

The Table Captain

From unorthodox bet-sizes to consistent chatter, Persson’s strategy was proving successful. The pros were confused, and the evidence continued to pour in. First, he bluffed his way to a $72,000 pot with nothing more than five-high while facing three other players. He followed with a small win, $60,000, in another multi-way pot, and at one point asked Phil Ivey, who was also involved in the hand, if he wanted to “talk it through?” Offering strategic advice to a 10-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner and a member of the Poker Hall of Fame? Talk about cheeky.

Those hands were just a prelude for the real drama a short time later.  With king-queen of clubs, Persson flopped a flush against Bryn Kenney’s set of fives, and the pot exploded. The turn and river didn’t change much, both blanks, but the betting continued in large amounts.

ryn Kenney on highstakes poker

“I’m like the superstar the world just doesn’t know,” Persson joked, as he fired in $62,000 on fourth street.

Kenney, poker’s all-time leading money leader, didn’t waste any time in making the call, but was soon faced with an even tougher decision when Persson shoved all-in on fifth street. He was faced with more verbal jousting as well.

“How are you going to fold the river now, you’re so committed. You didn’t think I was going to fire the third bullet, of course I was. You just torched $80,000; you should have just folded the flop. You can’t make that call on the flop unless you’re prepared to go to the river, you have to just let it go, but not Bryn. He’s like, ‘I’m just going to out muscle you.’”

A Barrage of Banter

Across the table, Kenney was stone-faced, fully concentrating on the $133,000 decision at hand, whether to call off the last of his remaining chips, an extremely tough task considering Persson’s epic barrage.

“It’s very rare people bluff on the river this amount. You actually torched $100,000, if you think about, with all the pre-flop action, but that’s a smart man, if he knows he’s beat, he lets it go. Your hand wasn’t good then, it’s not good now.”

This time, Persson’s table talk and ‘speech play’ abilities had their desired effect, and he was paid off handsomely. Whatever he said prompted Kenney to make the call with an inferior holding. Incidentally, the $456,500 pot was the second largest this season on High Stakes Poker.

Eric Persson splashing chips in the middle of the pot

“Would you buy a used car from him,” asked commentator Gabe Kaplan, as Persson gathered in his new found loot.

More like a ‘used-cards’ salesperson, right? Casino owner, poker player, table captain, perhaps Eric Persson is on his way to becoming the poker superstar everybody’s heard about it. He’s certainly getting his money’s worth on High Stakes Poker, closing out the episode with more than $1 million in his stack.

Back To Top Back To Top

Hello! Which language do you prefer?