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Poker News | People in Poker | Poker Superstars

Where Are They Now – David Williams

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Where are They Now is a series of an in depth look at all poker players - not just the pros - as they travel through one long game. Some of the players profiled are deceased but not forgotten.

It seems in almost every sport there are a handful of players that seem to have been around forever.  In the poker world, the same holds true.  You have those that have truly been around forever, like Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan.  But you also have those that just seem to be around forever.  David Williams seems to fit that profile.  At just 28 years old it’s obvious he hasn’t been around that long, but he certainly has been a fixture in the poker world for quite a while.  The reason that it seems he’s an old veteran of the game probably has to do along the time he came into the poker limelight.  When poker was still in the beginning of the phase known as the “poker boom,” Williams was seemingly on television nightly making it deep into another final table.  With the skill he showed, you would have thought he was playing poker from an early age, but as you will soon see it was a different card game where he first made a name for himself.

Born on June 9, 1980, Williams took a liking to math at an early age, which would obviously go on to help him in his poker career.  Williams excelled in school, scoring a 1550 out of a possible 1600 on his SAT’s.  Before even choosing a university Williams prepared by entering the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science.  The school only accepts 200 rising 11th graders a year.   Upon completion of TAMS and earning his outstanding SAT scores, Williams had his choice of schools, including many top Ivy League schools, some of the hardest schools to get into in the country.  Instead, Williams opted to stay close to home and attend Southern Methodist University and pursue a degree in economics.  
A couple years before Williams went to college, and also while he was there, he started playing the popular card game “Magic: The Gathering.”  “MTG” is a strategic card game, using skills that mimic those of bridge, poker and chess.  Still wildly popular, the game at its peak had over 6 million players worldwide.  The game can be played at a tournament level, and at the local level Williams has won over $30,000, prompting him to play the game on a national level.  Things took a sour turn for Williams when he was disqualified from a “MTG” world championship in 2001, and subsequently disqualified for a year from competition.  Williams was accused of marking certain important cards in the deck.  Williams agreed that the cards were marked, but he has maintained his innocence that he did not do it on purpose in order to gain an advantage in the game.  Either way, with a year off Williams had some time on his hands to pursue other hobbies.

Williams found online poker, and taught himself how to play the game.  While playing “MTG” he became friends with current professional player Noah Boeken.  Boeken introduced Williams to Marcel Luske, an already established professional poker player.  Luske took both Williams and Boeken under his wing, serving as a mentor.  With his learned math skills, and his ability to learn strategy from his “MTG” days, Williams proved to be a quick study at the poker table.
Williams played only two tournaments before 2004. In 2000 and 2001 he finished 13th at the $1,000 No Limit Hold’em United States Poker Championships.  Williams instead was purely a cash game player, making frequent trips to Las Vegas, and also playing online.  Heading into the 2003 World Series of Poker he had only played two live tournaments and wasn’t exactly a favorite to go deep into the Main Event.

Williams has said in interviews that the only practice for tournaments he had leading up to the 2003 Main Event was playing in a few bigger online tournaments.  Nevertheless, Williams made history when he became the first African American to make the final table of the WSOP championship, beating his idol Phil Ivey’s record (Ivey has a chance to one up Williams if he wins the championship this November).  Williams finished second to Greg Raymer, netting himself 3.5 million dollars for his effort, a significant amount higher than the $30,000 he had won at Magic.  Williams wasted no time showing he wasn’t going to be a one-hit wonder.

Just four months later, Williams finished second in the World Poker Tour’s 2004 Borgata Poker Open netting him another $573,000.  In December of the same year, Williams won a title, the Five-Diamond World Poker Classic for $121,057.  Williams’ year of 2004 is among the best of any young poker player in the history of the game.

Williams had a huge 2006 as well, which saw him win his first WSOP bracelet, in the $1,500 7-Card Stud event.  Just a few days later, Williams narrowly missed making it two bracelets on the year when he finished second in the No Limit 2-7 Draw Lowball.  With such great results in a variety of poker games, Williams proved himself to be one of the better all around poker players in the game today.

The reason Williams has seemed to be around forever is that in a relatively short career he has made the money 17 times at the WSOP and 9 times at the WPT.  He has also been featured on a variety of shows, playing both cash and tournament poker.  At the 2009 WSOP, Williams made another final table, finishing 4th in the $1,500 Limit Hold’em Shootout event.  He also made the money in the Main Event.

With his success at the poker table came a sponsorship deal with Bodog Poker.  Williams also was featured in the video game “Stacked.”  He has also turned out to be one of the more personable poker players on the circuit.  Williams has a video blog on the internet television station  In it he talks not only about what’s going on at the poker table, but he also speaks a lot about what’s going on in his personal life.  Williams has said on more than one occasion that while he may look like a “cool guy” he is truly a “nerd” at heart.  Williams continues to play “MTG” but says if he had to choose between the two he would have to pick poker.  It doesn’t take a 1550 on your SAT to see that is a smart choice.

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