Ambition and a competitive spirit (along with plenty of encouragement from friends) are the catalysts that have aided Paul Wasicka in turning what he loves most - playing games - into a career. With over $7.7M in live tournament cashes as of the 2010 World Series of Poker, the Victory Poker sponsored 2007 NBC National Heads Up Poker champion ascended rapidly up the top tournament money earners list with his 2006 WSOP Main Event second place finish to Jamie Gold just months after officially turning pro.
Born in Dallas, Texas in 1981, Paul Wasicka learned to play chess and backgammon at an early age, and also participated in soccer. Moving to Boulder, Colorado at the age of seven, Paul's love of competitive sports and games grew exponentially. In junior high he was a talented contender on the chess team, quickly moving on to battle high school
students when the level of chess competition within his own age group proved too weak of a challenge.
By high school, Paul Wasicka was participating in as many sports as he could, including track, wrestling and volleyball. His perpetual need for mental stimulation kept him constantly engaged, whether playing video games, sports or strategic games.
Paul Wasicka got his first taste of gambling at a casino in Vancouver during a ski trip. Turning $10 into $100 at a Blackjack table, Paul Wasicka ended up spending more time playing Blackjack than skiing. By the end of the 5 week vacation, Paul was up $17,000.
After his success playing Blackjack, when Paul's friend Thomas Fuller mentioned going to an underground poker tournament
, Paul immediately expressed an interest in joining his friend. With little more than a fifteen minute poker crash course on the way to the game, and an existing knowledge of hand rankings, Paul finished the tournament in 9th place out of pool of 100 players. Later that night, Thomas introduced Paul to online poker.
Spending the entire night playing $10 SNGs, by morning Paul Wasicka was up $110, and awed by the potential to make money playing games. Cautiously testing out the online poker
cash games, it wasn't long before Paul was playing the highest stakes available at the online poker site
, tapping into his credit card to fund the new-found obsession.
Still new to the game, and struggling with the costly effects of tilt, Paul was soon down $4,500 after a bad run. Deciding to take a break from poker for a week, Paul Wasicka returned to the virtual felt with a plan. He played each day until he had won $1,000, forcing himself to stop once he reached his goal in an effort to prevent himself from playing the long sessions that can often result in poor decision making for players prone to tilting. The plan worked for a short time - pulling himself back into the profit zone - but soon Paul Wasicka was back to his old habits, once again busting his bankroll.
In 2004, Paul spent the summer working together with Thomas Fuller - who was on break from his college studies - to improve Paul's results at online poker. When Thomas went back to school in the fall, Paul quit his job to attempt to play online poker
professionally. However, he fell back into the same bad habits, and was forced to return to a conventional job in order to pay the bills. Taking another break from poker, Paul Wasicka came to the conclusion that he would need to make changes in his life before returning to the game.
When Paul Wasicka re-entered the online poker arena, his game improved dramatically, but he continued to struggle with bankroll management. After fulfilling a year-long commitment he had made to his employer, Paul Wasicka felt ready, once again, to make another attempt at playing poker full-time in March of 2006. Placing bankroll building as his top priority, Paul managed to drive his poker funds up to $50,000.
Paul set his sights on tournament poker, and entered the WPT $5,000 Reno Hilton World Poker Challenge. By the end of the first day, Paul had the second highest chip lead, and was brimming with confidence. However, the second day his inexperience at playing tournament poker caught up with him, and Paul was knocked out before reaching the money.
Devastated, Paul Wasicka recoiled from tournament poker, but Thomas Fuller urged Paul to give it another try in Vegas, where they entered a super satellite to the WPT Championships. Eliminated just hours into the tournament, Paul reluctantly entered the next satellite at Fuller's insistence. Five days later, Paul took 15th place, and earned $146K. Paul decided he would use the money to play the WSOP, but first he would take a break from poker all together to avoid burning out before the prestigious series of tournaments began.
Cashing in two of the WSOP's No limit Hold'em
events for a combined total of over $60K, Paul Wasicka entered the WSOP championship with optimistic enthusiasm. Out of a pool of 8,773 players, Paul Wasicka outlasted all but one; Jaime Gold took 1st, and Paul "Kwickfish" Wasicka landed a very satisfying 2nd place, worth a little over $6.1M.
Already a multimillionaire in his first official year as a professional poker player
, Paul Wasicka continued to follow the tournament trail throughout 2007. Kicking off the year with a 12th place finish in the Aussie Millions Championship, Paul continued on to the WPT No Limit Championship - landing 4th for $455K. Then he was off to the NBC National Heads Up Poker Championship, where Paul defeated Chad Brown in the final match with a flopped King-high straight.
Since his victory at the 2007 NBC National Heads Up Poker Championship, Paul Wasicka has continued to enter and cash in several WPT, WSOP and WSOP Circuit events. In 2009 and 2010, Paul placed 10th and 9th respectively in the NBC National Heads Up championships, and took 1st in the 2010 WSOP Circuit No Limit Hold'em Championship.
Still relatively early in his poker career, determination, persistence, and a little nudging from his friends during the downswings are sure to see Paul Wasicka through to many more tournament victories in the future.