Tom Dwan: Professional Poker Player from New Jersey

Tom Dwan

Tom Dwan is an excellent poker player who started playing online when he was just a teenager. Over the course of his career, he has accumulated over $2.9 million from live tournaments alone. When taking into consideration his online play, his total winnings are upwards of $10 million. He travels all over the world playing poker, having played at casinos in the United States, Australia, China, and various countries in Europe.

To learn more about Tom "Durrrr" Dwan, his upbringing, his professional poker career, and his dedication to philanthropy, please continue reading this biography. You will even get details on his recent endeavors to China, along with insight as to what his future holds.


Early Life

Tom Dwan was born on July 30th, 1986, in Edison, New Jersey. He was born to a middle-class family who taught him the importance of hard work. He attended Edison High School and was actively involved in the school's extracurricular activities. He played both soccer and tennis and was a core member of the school's Spanish club, debate club, and math club.

Outside of school, Dwan enjoyed playing a variety of card games. He played both Magic: The Gathering and poker with his friends on a regular basis. When he turned 17 years old, his parents gave him $50 for his birthday. A few of his friends recommended that he take that money and invest it in the online poker site Paradise Island. They recognized that he was a talented poker player, and they believed he had a chance to make a decent amount of money.

Dwan was hesitant at first because he didn't like the idea of illegally gambling online. Feeling pressured by his friends, though, he decided to give it a chance. He opened an account at Paradise Island under the username Durrrr. He chose that username because it was a phrase that he and his friends used to say back and forth to each other whenever they said or did something stupid.

He initially started playing $6 sit-and-go tournaments with little success, so he decided to try out the site's cash games instead. It was through cash games that he started to make a steady profit. After 4 months, he had a bankroll of over $15,000.

He continued to build up his bankroll, and by the end of his senior year of high school, he had accumulated enough money to pay for college. He enrolled at Boston University and had a great first year. He received good grades and met a lot of interesting people. He would often spend the weekends playing poker against his roommates, while also continuing to play poker online. His parents were shocked when he told them that he wasn't going to be returning to college the following year. Instead, he was going to pursue a career as a professional poker player.

Professional Poker Career

Until he turned 21, he would be limited to online poker tournaments or live tournaments in Europe. One of the first live tournaments he entered in was the €3,000 No Limit Texas Hold'em main event of the 2005 European Poker Tour that took place in London that year. He managed to land a 12th-place finish and was able to take home a little over $12,000.

Not long after that, he started regularly playing at sites like Poker Stars and Full Tilt Poker. He would often play Pot Limit Omaha at the $200/$400 heads-up tables, where he would often win and lose hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time. While playing at these sites, he had the opportunity to play against other amazing players like Phil Ivey, Mike Matusow, and Chris Ferguson.

Finally, at 21 years of age, Dwan was able to enter tournaments within the United States. In 2007, he took 4th place in the World Poker Finals $9,700 + 300 No Limit Hold'em championship event. That would be his most financially-rewarding win yet, bringing him in over $324,000 in prize money. He came close to a victory at the 2008 Borgata Winter Open in Atlantic City, where he landed a 2nd-place finish and a cash prize of $226,000.

IIn addition to those events, Dwan started regularly competing in the World Series of Poker, which takes place in Las Vegas every year. Although he hasn't managed to win a WSOP gold bracelet yet, he has had some great performances. We have provided details on those performances for you below.

Tom Dwan's Top 5 World Series of Poker Results
Year Event Place Prize
2010 $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em 2nd $381,885
2011 $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. 5th $134,480
2008 $10,000 World Championship Mixed Event 7th $67,680
2008 $5,000 No-Limit 2-7 Draw w/ Rebuys 8th $45,110
2011 $25,000 Heads-Up No-Limit Hold'em Championship 9th $67,436

In 2009, he was approached by Full Tilt Poker, one of the most successful online poker sites in the industry. They wanted him to join their team of professionals who got paid to play on the Full Tilt Poker site and wear a Full Tilt Poker uniform at all the live tournaments they competed in. Dwan felt honored to be able to join this team, as he already was a regular player on the site.

Dwan announced his million-dollar challenge in 2009, which was open to anyone brave enough to compete against him. He would put up $1.5 million to his competitor's $500,000. If the person playing against him was able to finish 50,000 hands of Pot Limit Omaha or No Limit Hold'em having won more money than him, then they would win his $1.5 million stake. Several different poker players have taken him up on his offer, including Patrik Antonius and Daniel Crates, neither of which have successfully been able to take him down.

DDwan appeared on several episodes of Poker After Dark, a week-long No Limit Texas Hold'em mini tournament that was broadcasted on NBC each week. In week 4 of the 7th season, Dwan was able to take down Eric Baldwin, Melanie Weisner, Andrew Lichtenberger, Annette Obrestad, and Doyle Brunson for the first-place prize of $300,000. This was an especially impressive feat, as Doyle Brunson is one of the best poker players in the world, having played professionally for over 5 decades now.

Full Tilt Poker Scam

On April 15th, 2011 (Black Friday), the Department of Justice seized Full Tilt Poker's domain name for being in direct violation of the UIGEA. Players from all over the United States fled to their accounts and attempted to withdraw their money. Most players were unable to do this because the owners of Full Tilt Poker had been stealing players' funds to host wild parties and to increase the salaries of their professional poker team. A thorough investigation would reveal that over $350,000 worth of players' funds was missing.

Dwan was devasted by this news and immediately stopped wearing his Full Tilt Poker uniform. In an interview with ESPN, Dwan explained his feelings towards the owners of Full Tilt Poker: "Before Black Friday, I liked all those guys, but I'm obviously really unhappy with their actions. I wish I'd known they didn't have all the player deposits because I never would have signed with them."

Tom Dwan Gives Back

Dwan is very grateful for his friends and family who have supported him throughout his career so far, and he loves to spoil them with expensive gifts. One year for Mother's Day, he bought his mom a brand-new SUV and offered to pay for her gas for a year. When his best friend turned 21, Dwan treated him with an all-expenses-paid trip to Las Vegas and $1,000 to gamble with. These are just two examples of how generous Dwan can be with his tournament winnings.

Outside of his friends and family, Dwan has donated to several well-known charitable organizations, including the Wounded Warrior Project and Doctors Without Borders. The Wounded Warrior Project strives to help soldiers readjust to life after service. They provide medical assistance, support groups, financial aid, and more. This organization means a lot of Dwan because his grandfather served in World War II.

DDoctors Without Borders is an organization that sends out doctors and nurses to countries all over the world who lack the resources and trained professionals they need to get the medical attention they deserve. This foundation sparked Dwan's interest because he thought about pursuing a career in medicine before he decided to become a professional poker player instead.

Switching Gears to China

Dwan has recently started spending a lot of his free time in Macau, Hong Kong, and various cities throughout China. He enjoys the unique atmosphere of Chinese casinos and believes the tournaments there present more opportunities to win large sums of money than tournaments in the United States. In 2017, he took 2nd place in the $500,000 No Limit Hold'em Super High Roller tournament in Macau, bringing home a cool $252,000.

China is one of the only countries to offer short-deck tournaments, which Dwan has become very fond of in recent years. In a short-deck tournament, poker is played without any 2s, 3s, 4s, and 5s. Since the deck only consists of 36 cards instead of the standard 52, landing a straight is very common, while flushes are rare. He has already developed several strategies for taking down his competition in this version of the game.

Dwan currently doesn't have plans to permanently move to China, but it is something he is considering doing in the future. He has already looked into the process of obtaining dual citizenship in both China and the United States, and he has started looking at houses in the Macau area. We will be sure to update his biography once we know more about his plans moving forward.