Ben Grise swimming with sharks in $25k WPT High Roller

Paul Oresteen
Published by:
Posted on: November 28, 2023 3:01 pm EST

On a normal Tuesday Ben Grise would have breakfast with his family and then go about his day running a real estate investment company. He plays poker on the side and is fairly well-known among mid-stakes tournament players around the Midwest, with a respectable $800,000 Hendon Mob profile.

But this Tuesday he did something he’s never done before – returned as chip leader for Day 2 of a $25,000 High Roller event. He was in town partly for a family vacation and partly to play the World Poker Tour Seminole Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open since he’s been on the best run of his career.

“It’s been the best year ever,” Grise interrupted. “I’m running good, I’ve had a good year and so I figured it’s a good time to play it and on top of that, there’s some tax implications.”

Best run of his life

A few weeks ago, Grise finished runner-up at the WSOPC Hammond Main Event for $121,651, he made a top 100 finish in the WSOP Main Event for $92,600 and made the final two tables of the Lucky Hearts Poker Open Championship for $35,745 in January.

“I was going to play (the High Roller) regardless but I reached out to five of my good buddies and offered action,” he said. “All five were in; having their support helps.”

Grise felt ready to jump in a bigger sandbox to play. Even with competition like Anton Wigg, Adam Hendrix, Joe McKeehan and Brian Altman. “I looked up all the winnings and there’s probably around $30 million of winnings at this table. Clearly, they’ve seen a lot more of these spots than I have. I’m trying to keep myself out of any difficult spots; I’m just trying to simplify it.”

Playing in the big leagues

Grise enjoying life at WSOPC Hammond

His inexperience in High Rollers didn’t show as he returned as the Day 2 chip leader. But he’s conscious that he’s swimming with sharks. “Every decision, every street, you really have to be thinking about the story you’re telling and does it make sense? These guys are thinking on a much higher level than players you’d find in a $1,700 field,” Grise said.

“You can take spots in those that wouldn’t make sense to these guys (high rollers),” he added. “It’s a lot harder to get bluffs through here. You have to run a little bit better because, it’s harder to steal in these tournaments.”

Real estate & poker professional

First place pays out $682,238 – which comes close to matching Grise’s career earnings. But he said the win wouldn’t be life changing. “I have a really healthy real estate investment business. But I don’t want to discount the amount of money, it’s a large sum. It will allow me to do some things for my family. I want to make some home improvements that we wouldn’t normally do. Maybe I’ll reinvest back into the business.”

Grise said he finds the crossover between real estate and poker is that, “You have to be very risk tolerant,” he said. “I don’t put nearly as much volume as these guys; I probably play 1/20th of the volume they’re playing. Naturally, it’s going to take me more tournaments than them to realize my equity.”

While Grise was confident at the start of the day, he had a rough night. “I barely sept at all last night. I’m on pure adrenaline,” he said. “I think I slept like three hours. My right eye is twitching like crazy; I can’t get it to stop. Once you get here though, the adrenaline carries you through.”

Feature image c/o WPT, additional image Paul Oresteen