Nathan Gamble talks underage gambling and fixing the poker scene

Jon Pill
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Posted on: August 17, 2020 11:43 pm EDT

Nathan Gamble got his first bracelet in 2017. He took down the $1,500 pot-limit Omaha 8-or-better event for $223,339. This June he repeated the feat in the 2020 WSOP Online $600 Omaha eight-or-better event. This time around he made $89,424.

But all this had an ignominious start with an $11 bankroll played on UB by a barely pubescent teen.

I started playing when I was about 12 years old…

“I started playing when I was about 12 years old,” Gamble said in a recent interview. “It was just me watching my Dad and his friends sitting around the kitchen table […] I started playing free money online and then my Dad gave me like $11 on UltimateBet to play some tournament.”

Showing signs of ingenuity that went well beyond just playing the game, Gamble would sneak the UB client onto his school computers before deleting it “because you know that you can’t get caught. And then [I’d] end up doing the same thing the next day.”

The online world became his bread and butter. In later years, when he was closer to the legal gambling age in his native USA, he found PLO8 sit-n-go’s. It was here that he honed the skills that would one day win him two bracelets in that discipline. That’s a skill base he feels is no longer available to up and coming players.

“Because PLO8 is gone,” he said. “It’s really difficult for someone else to come along and learn how to be good at those games.”

But despite this online deficit, it is live games where he is seeking to bridge the gap between casual and pro mixed game players. He sees the main problem this way: there are no mid-stakes games left. 

“You say, ‘Hey, come hang with the guys [at $4-$8], have a couple beers, and win or lose a couple hundred bucks. Oh. You enjoyed it? Come play $40-$80 and win or lose thousands.’”

Poker is about being social

Gamble has been working to fix poker’s downsides with his not inconsiderable charm. He takes table talk seriously and views being personable as a key skill in today’s poker. To him, human interaction is as important as hand reading and bankroll management.

“I think at the end of the day, poker is about being social,” he said. Adding later that those people “that are in private games have other skills. They have the ability to interact with people and network. They have the ability to get the fish into the game and make them have fun.”

He has a real focus on giving back to the poker community, which his overseas military service has made him deeply grateful for. “You have a beautiful cocktail server, a competent dealer, and friendly people around you. And then you look at what other countries are doing and where they are at in life […] You’ll never find me angry at the table.”

Words to live by.