Erik Seidel is one of the most successful and respected poker players in history. He has won nine World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelets, a World Poker Tour (WPT) title, and countless other tournaments and awards. He has also amassed over $39 million in live tournament earnings, ranking fourth on the all-time money list. He is a member of the Poker Hall of Fame and a legend of the game.
But unlike many of his peers, Seidel is not a loud or flashy player. He is known for his calm and humble demeanor, his analytical and strategic mind, and his passion and dedication for poker. He is a quiet giant who lets his results speak for themselves.
In this article, we will explore his biography, from his early days as a backgammon player and a stock trader in New York to his rise to fame and fortune in Las Vegas and beyond.
Early Life and Education
Erik Seidel was born on November 6, 1959, in New York City. He grew up in a Jewish family with two sisters. He attended Stuyvesant High School, a prestigious public school for gifted students. He was interested in games and gambling from a young age, and learned to play chess, bridge, backgammon, and poker.
Seidel was especially talented at backgammon, and became a professional player in his teens. He competed in local and national tournaments, and traveled to Europe and Asia to play against the best players in the world. He also frequented the Mayfair Club, a famous underground gaming club in New York, where he met and befriended other future poker stars such as Dan Harrington, Howard Lederer, Jason Lester, Steve Zolotow, Paul Magriel, and Mickey Appleman.
Seidel did not pursue higher education after high school. Instead, he worked as a stock trader on the American Stock Exchange. He enjoyed the thrill and challenge of trading, but also faced the risk and stress of losing money. In 1987, he lost most of his savings in the Black Monday market crash.
After losing his job as a trader, Seidel decided to focus on his poker career. He had been playing poker casually for years, but now he saw it as a way to make a living.
World Series of Poker
Seidel’s first major poker tournament was the 1988 WSOP Main Event. He entered the event with only $2,000 in his pocket, but managed to reach the final table with some of the best players in the world, including Johnny Chan, Phil Hellmuth, Humberto Brenes, Ron Graham, and T.J. Cloutier.
Seidel played remarkably well throughout the tournament, but faced a tough opponent in Chan, who was the defending champion and had a huge chip lead. The final hand between them became one of the most famous hands in poker history, and was featured in the movie Rounders.
Chan had A♠7♠ and raised preflop. Seidel had Q♣7♥ and called. The flop came Q♠8♦5♠ , giving Seidel top pair and Chan a flush draw. Chan checked and Seidel bet. Chan raised and Seidel called. The turn was 2♣ , changing nothing. Chan checked again and Seidel bet again. Chan moved all-in and Seidel called after some hesitation.
The river was 6♠ , completing Chan’s flush and crushing Seidel’s hopes. Seidel finished second and won $280,000 , while Chan became the first player to win back-to-back WSOP Main Events.
Seidel was disappointed but not discouraged by his loss. He continued to play poker at the highest level, and won his first WSOP bracelet in 1992 in a $2,500 Limit Hold’em event. He would go on to win eight more WSOP bracelets over the next three decades, in various games such as Pot Limit Omaha , Omaha Hi-Lo , Deuce to Seven Draw , No Limit Hold’em , H.O.R.S.E . , Razz , Seven Card Stud , Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo , Six-Handed No Limit Hold’em , Mixed Game , Mixed No Limit Hold’em/Pot Limit Omaha , Mixed Max No Limit Hold’em , Poker Players Championship , Super High Roller No Limit Hold’em , Super High Roller Bowl , Big One for One Drop , Triton Million , etc.
As of 2021 , Seidel has nine WSOP bracelets , 41 WSOP final tables , 114 WSOP cashes , and over $14 million in WSOP earnings . He is tied with Johnny Moss for the fifth-most WSOP bracelets in history, behind only Phil Hellmuth , Doyle Brunson , Johnny Chan , and Phil Ivey . He is also one of the few players to have won WSOP bracelets in three different decades.
World Poker Tour
Seidel has also been a regular and successful player on the World Poker Tour (WPT) , a series of high-stakes poker tournaments held around the world. He has made eight WPT final tables and won one WPT title.
His first WPT final table was in 2003 , at the WPT Invitational in Los Angeles. He finished fourth and won $146,100 . His second WPT final table was in 2004 , at the WPT Championship in Las Vegas. He finished third and won $256,800 .
His third WPT final table was in 2005 , at the WPT Grand Prix de Paris in France. He finished fifth and won €84,890 . His fourth WPT final table was in 2006 , at the WPT LA Poker Classic in Los Angeles. He finished sixth and won $146,970 .
His fifth WPT final table was in 2007 , at the WPT Foxwoods World Poker Finals in Connecticut. He finished fourth and won $337,635 . His sixth WPT final table was in 2008 , at the same event. This time, he won the tournament and earned his first and only WPT title. He defeated a tough field of 412 players and took home $992,890 .
His seventh WPT final table was in 2011 , at the WPT Hollywood Poker Open in Indiana. He finished second and won $155,103 . His eighth and most recent WPT final table was in 2015 , at the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic in Las Vegas. He finished sixth and won $293,275 .
As of 2021 , Seidel has one WPT title , eight WPT final tables , 26 WPT cashes , and over $2.7 million in WPT earnings .
European Poker Tour
Seidel has also participated in several European Poker Tour (EPT) events, a series of high-stakes poker tournaments held across Europe. He has made one EPT final table and won one EPT title.
His first and only EPT final table was in 2015 , at the EPT Grand Final €100,000 Super High Roller in Monte Carlo. He won the tournament and earned his first and only EPT title. He defeated a tough field of 71 players and took home €2,015,000 .
As of 2021 , Seidel has one EPT title , one EPT final table , one EPT cash , and over €2 million in EPT earnings .
Other Poker Ventures
Besides playing in major poker tournaments, Seidel has also competed in various other poker events and venues around the world.
He has played in several Aussie Millions events, a series of high-stakes poker tournaments held annually in Melbourne, Australia. He has made four Aussie Millions final tables and won two Aussie Millions titles.
His first Aussie Millions final table was in 2007 , at the A$100,000 Challenge . He finished second and won A$550,000 . His second Aussie Millions final table was in 2008 , at the A$10,300 Main Event . He finished second again and won A$1,000,000 .
His third Aussie Millions final table was in 2011 , at the A$100,000 Challenge again. He finished third and won A$618,139 . His fourth Aussie Millions final table was in 2018 , at the A$50,000 Challenge . He won the tournament and earned his first Aussie Millions title. He defeated a field of 18 players and took home A$931,840 .
His second Aussie Millions title came in 2020 , at the A$250,000 Challenge . He won the tournament and earned his second Aussie Millions title. He defeated a field of 16 players and took home A$2,151,776 .
As of 2021 , Seidel has two Aussie Millions titles , four Aussie Millions final tables , nine Aussie Millions cashes , and over A$5.6 million in Aussie Millions earnings .
He has also played in several Triton Poker events, a series of super high-stakes poker tournaments held around Asia. He has made three Triton Poker final tables and won one Triton Poker title.
His first Triton Poker final table was in 2016 , at the HK$500,000 No Limit Hold’em Six Max event in Manila. He finished fourth and won HK$3,100,000 . His second Triton Poker final table was in 2019 , at the HK$250,000 Short Deck Ante Only event in Jeju. He finished third and won HK$2,680,000 .
His third Triton Poker final table was also in 2019, at the £1,050,000 No Limit Hold’em Triton Million for Charity event in London. He won the tournament and earned his first Triton Poker title. He defeated a field of 54 players and took home £19,000,000, the largest prize of his career.
As of 2021, Seidel has one Triton Poker title, three Triton Poker final tables, six Triton Poker cashes, and over £21 million in Triton Poker earnings.
He has also played in several other poker events and venues around the world, such as the Super High Roller Bowl, the Big One for One Drop, the Poker Masters, the U.S. Poker Open, the British Poker Open, the Aria High Roller Series, the Bellagio High Roller Series, the EPT Super High Roller Series, the PCA Super High Roller Series, the Monte Carlo Super High Roller Series, the Macau Super High Roller Series, and many more.
He has faced and beaten some of the best players in the world, such as Daniel Negreanu, Phil Ivey, Tom Dwan, Patrik Antonius, Viktor Blom, Fedor Holz, Justin Bonomo, Bryn Kenney, Stephen Chidwick, Jason Koon, David Peters, Nick Petrangelo, Mikita Badziakouski, Dan Smith, Christoph Vogelsang, and many more.
As of 2021, Seidel has over $39 million in live tournament earnings, ranking fourth on the all-time money list. He is also one of the few players to have won over $1 million in a single tournament more than 20 times.
Other Ventures and Activities
Besides playing poker, Seidel is also involved in various other ventures and activities. He is a co-founder and partner of Rounders Edge Capital (REC), a hedge fund that invests in poker players and tournaments. He is also a mentor and coach to many aspiring poker players through his online courses and videos.
Seidel is also a philanthropist and humanitarian, having supported various causes and charities throughout his career. He is a member of Raising for Effective Giving (REG), a non-profit organization that encourages poker players to donate a percentage of their winnings to effective charities. He is also a supporter of One Drop, a non-governmental organization that provides access to safe water for communities in need.
Seidel has been married once in his life. His wife is Ruah Seidel, whom he married in 1991. They have two daughters together: Eliana and Lila. They are still together as of 2021.
Seidel lives in Las Vegas with his family. He enjoys traveling around the world with them and playing poker in different countries. He also likes to play tennis and golf in his spare time.
Seidel is a vegetarian for health and ethical reasons. He is also an avid music fan and collector. He has a large collection of vinyl records and CDs from various genres and artists. Some of his favorite musicians are Bob Dylan , Bruce Springsteen , Neil Young , Leonard Cohen , Joni Mitchell , The Beatles , The Rolling Stones , The Who , The Kinks , The Clash , Elvis Costello , U2 , R.E.M . , Radiohead , Arcade Fire , Wilco , The National , etc.
Erik Seidel is a poker legend who has achieved incredible success and respect in his career. He has won nine WSOP bracelets , a WPT title , an EPT title , a Triton Poker title , and millions of dollars in prize money . He has also competed in some of the biggest and most prestigious poker events in the world.
Seidel is not only a great poker player , but also a great person . He is calm , humble , analytical , strategic , passionate , and dedicated . He is a role model for many aspiring poker players and fans around the world.
Erik Seidel is truly a quiet giant of poker .