How Poker Youtuber Ryan Depaulo won a WSOP Bracelet from His Car

Jack Strauss won the 1982 world championship after being down to a single chip earlier in the tournament, giving birth to the now legendary phrase, ‘a chip and a chair.’ Stu Ungar, deeply in debt and clearly affected by years of cocaine addiction, displayed his sheer class in dominating the 1997 World Series of Poker main event for his third career world title. He’s the only player to win three, with the first two coming back-to-back 16 years earlier (1980 and 1981). And, who can forget Chris Moneymaker and his exploits in 2003? The unknown Tennessee accountant parlayed a $39 satellite into an improbable world title, and its $2.5 million first prize. There have been some legendary feats over the years, but in the annals of poker history has to take the cake. You might say it ‘takes the brake.’

Ryan Depaulo

Ryan DePaulo, a self-proclaimed ‘degenerate gambler,’ is now a social media sensation after becoming the first player to ever win a WSOP gold bracelet from his car. No, it wasn’t the main event, but one could argue it’s just as epic.

Road Trip

“About to go play this WSOP event on the side of the road in New Jersey,” read a tweet from @depaulo_ryan as his road trip began. “Thanks lawmakers,” he said.

There has been no ‘live’ play yet at this year’s World Series of Poker, as the planet copes with the coronavirus pandemic, but the 2020 online bracelet events have been up and running for the past two weeks on WSOP.com. Itching to play, but unable to because of the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA), the 33-year old New Yorker decided to load up his vehicle and make the journey across state lines into New Jersey, where it is legal to play.

He didn’t fare so well on his opening night of the series, and was actually eliminated from the tournament “while going through a Burger King drive-thru.”

Whole Foods

He wasn’t phased, though, and likely enjoyed a couple of Whoppers before falling asleep in the backseat somewhere along the Jersey Shore. Then, just a few days ago, on Monday, July 13th, DePaulo set up shop in a Whole Foods parking lot for one of the craziest runs ever. Event 12, the BIG 500, cost $500 to play and attracted a monster field of close to 2,500 entrants. He was in for a long night, and yes, he was tweeting and posting videos about the experience.

“How long until the cops ask me what I’m doing, screaming in a New Jersey parking lot,” he wondered as play began. “Still running in Jersey lot,” he added a short time later. “No cops yet.”

The first real signs of excitement came with his next post, which started with the words, “BIG SUCK-OUT,” where in all capital letters he indicated to his followers he was sitting comfortably in fifth position with 1.8 million chips, and just 47 people remaining. He may have been comfy on the leader board, but how could he possibly be in that cramped front seat? The video evidence is all there. He was surrounded by fast-food wrappings and garbage. The drink holders were stuffed with urine-filled cups and water bottles. When you have to go, you have to go.

DePaulo was in for a long night in that darkened, quiet, and lonely parking lot. “Cool,” he said at 3:28 a.m., after letting his fans know that he was now second in chips with only 25 left. He must have been tired, but he was also closing in on a dream. Then, at 3:57 a.m., he noted that “people are showing up for work at this Whole Foods.”

A New Age Final Table

At 4:59 a.m., DePaulo had reached the final table and was the chip leader, parked and in pole position. Both excited and fatigued, he jumped out of his car for a quick stretch. He snapped a picture of his playing environment for any followers still awake. The photo is iconic. His laptop is depicted on the dashboard, resting on his steering wheel, and you can see the pee cups. “What final tables look like in 2020,” he quipped.

Ryn Depaulo WSOP car setup

Exactly one hour later, DePaulo was still first in chips with only three players left. Then, at 7:09 a.m., after nearly 13 hours of battle, and running on pure adrenaline, he fired out this, “I just won a bracelet in a f*&%ing parking lot.” It was his most emphatic car tweet yet, and for good reason, too. He had just captured his first WSOP title, the bracelet and a cool $159,563.

Youtube Star

Ryan DePaulo is quite a character. Aggressive and foul-mouthed, language he backs up with fine play. He is both a cash game and tournament professional, although he’s only been playing live events for a few years. According to The Hendon Mob, the world’s largest live poker database, DePaulo had one small cash in 2017, and two minor cashes in 2018. His break out year was 2019, when he posted six money finishes, including two at the World Series of Poker. Most notably, he outlasted one of the largest fields in WSOP history (13,109 entrants) to place third in the Colossus for $208,643, his largest score ever.

With close to 10,000 followers on twitter, and a bio that reads both, “I make +EV vlogs about my -EV poker” and “a girlfriend out of my league,” DePaulo has taken the poker world by storm. And, with more than 53,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel, Ryan DePaulo: Degenerate Gambler, and thousands more on Instagram, he has become one of the most influential poker content creators on social media. Now, he has garnered international headlines.

Ryan Depaulo youtube

“Ryan DePaulo wins WSOP bracelet from parking lot,” exclaimed the bold print at the Las Vegas Review Journal. News outlets and poker sites around the globe have reported on his unlikely achievement, even the World News.

The Winning Moment

It wasn’t until Tuesday, after driving back to the Big Apple for a good night’s sleep, that he posted the footage from his triumphant moment. The video is classic.

“Get the f*%k out,” he said, repeating the phrase several times. He was intense and yelling into his camera, which was set-up beside him in the passenger seat. It was part shock that he had just won. And part directive to himself to open the car door and exit the vehicle. This moment demanded it. Holed up in tight quarters for some twelve-and-a-half hours, concentrating to the hilt on bets, calls and raises. It was now time for fresh air and celebration. A victory lap if you will.

Ryan Depaulo Winning

“I’m a legend,” he bellowed at the top of his lungs, before apologizing to a nearby employee of Whole Foods. They were just entering the store for their work shift. A new day was unfolding, the sun was up, and it was shining on Ryan DePaulo. He was on top the world. He had found the perfect parking spot, and it put him in pole position.

Not long later, he was back on the highway, heading home to surprise his girlfriend with the good news. In poker parlance, it was the perfect hit-and-run.

Editor’s Note: Ryan DePaulo has gone back and forth, from New York to New Jersey, in order to continue playing the 2020 WSOP Online Bracelet Events. Earlier today, he placed 18th ($11,459.58) in Event 14, a $3,200 buy-in High Roller. He apparently took a bad beat, too.

“So unfair,” he tweeted. “Why can’t I get lucky like that parking lot kid, just one time?”

Derrick Oliver

Derrick Oliver

Derrick Oliver Dewan is the founder of High Roller Radio and has interviewed a number of the world's top poker players and gamblers. A former radio and television broadcaster, Derrick was brand manager for Poker Pro Canada magazine and has written for a variety of publications, including the Toronto Star & Windsor Life.

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