Erik Seidel was born on 6th November 1959 in New York City. With one World Poker Tour Championship, eight World Series of Poker bracelets and career tournament winnings in excess of $14 million, Erik Seidel is without doubt one of the finest poker players in the world. He became a member of the Poker Hall of Fame in 2010. Today Erik lives with his family in Las Vegas, Nevada and spends most of his time taking part in professional poker tournaments.
Early Years as a Backgammon Player
Erik had always been a gifted player. He loved games as a child and even appeared on the game show ‘To Tell the Truth’ at the age of 12. However, his talent really started to pay off only after he started attending Brooklyn College and discovered backgammon. He soon dropped out of the college to become a professional backgammon player.
Erik became a regular at New York’s famous Mayfair club. As more people at the club started taking interest in poker, Erik also tried his hand at the game. But he was not very confident of his skills as a poker player and made do with only a few games.
Working on Wall Street
After playing backgammon professionally for 8 years, Erik started to feel the need for more financial security and a 9 to 5 job. He started working as a stock broker for the New York Stock Exchange in 1985. But he never gave up playing cards. He continued to supplement his earnings with wins from evening poker games at Mayfair club. Just two years later, the stock market crashed and Erik was out of job.
Entry into the World of Professional Poker
After losing his job Erik was once again back at Mayfair club, but this time around the poker scene at the club was dominated by now famous players like Jay Heimowitz, Howard Lederer, Steve Zolotow, Stu Ungar, Mickey Appleman, Paul Magriel, Dan Harrington and Jason Lester. Erik also joined the group and soon, his poker skills were improving.
By 1988, Erik was feeling confident enough of his poker skills to ask his friends to invest in him. He made his first major tournament appearance in the 1988 WSOP Championship event. Out of the 10 tournaments for which he signed up, he was out of 9 before the main event. At the final table, Erik found himself highly ill-equipped to handle Johnny Chan, the defending champion. He was runner up to Chan in the 1988 WSOP main event. The movie Rounders, featured this final hand.
But Erik has come a long was since the 23 year old loss. Choosing not to give up on professional poker, Erik continued to attend tournaments and play high stakes poker, while working on Wall Street. He was placed 2nd in $5,000 Limit Hold’em event of the 1991 WSOP. He finished 1st in $2,500 Limit Hold’em event and $2,500 Omaha Eight or Better in 1992 and 1993 respectively, winning 2 bracelets. He won a gold bracelet for the third consecutive year for the $5,000 Limit event in 1994.
This finally convinced Seidel to shift base to Las Vegas in 1995. His next WSOP win came in 1998 in $5,000 Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw. In 1999, Erik once again found himself at the main event final table but went bust at the fourth position with winnings close to $258,020. The 2001 WSOP brought Erik $411,000 and his 4th bracelet for $3,000 No-Limit Hold’em event. His 5th and 6th bracelets came from $3,000 No Limit Hold’em in 2001 and $1,500 Pot limit Omaha in 2003.
A number of other events and wins also contributed to his earnings, including Jack Binion World Poker Open in Tunica and 2nd place in the United States Poker Championship $9,800 No-Limit Hold’em event. Erik earned his 7th gold bracelet for $2,000 No Limit Hold’em event in 2005, earning $611,795. The 8th bracelet came from an otherwise unremarkable 2007 WSOP for the NoLimit Duece-to-Seven Triple Draw Lowball. Seidel most recently defeated Erick Lindgren to win the WPT World Championship $100K Super High Roller event adding $1,092,780 to his winnings.
Erik Seidel is the only professional World Series of Poker player to win bracelets for 3 consecutive years. He is sponsored by Full Tilt Poker. His live tournament earnings were in excess of $15,900,000 as of 2011. Of the amount, $4,352,051 has been earned at the WSOP. With 60 WSOP cashes, he is tied at the 4th place with Berry Johnston for the highest number of cashes. In his spare time, Erik listens to music and plays tennis.