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Poker News | People in Poker | Poker Superstars

Where Are They Now – Dusty Schmidt

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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.

Obstacles - Every player that has been documented in the “Where Are They Now” series has faced them.  However, not many have faced as many as Dusty Schmidt.  At 23 years old he suffered a heart attack.  A few years later he represented himself in federal court in a case that he knew he was a major underdog going in, but that did little to deter him from standing up for what he believed in.  Through all of those trials he has become one of the most respected “grinders” in the history of online poker, earning more money in 5/10 and 10/20 cash games in consecutive years than anyone else on the planet.  What is also worth noting is that Schmidt is still only 28 years old.  The once promising golfer may have seen those dreams dashed in an unfortunate manner, but Schmidt hardly sat back and wondered what could have been, instead electing to make a name for himself in another way.

Schmidt’s early years were spent totally focused on golf, growing up in the southern California city of Whittier.  Schmidt began turning heads on a national level when he was just a teenager.  Schmidt won a series of junior amateur tournaments throughout the state of California, the same state in which Tiger Woods made a name for himself as a junior just a few years prior.  What was more remarkable was that by the time Schmidt was 15 he and Woods were 1-2 on nearly every record board.  By all accounts, Schmidt was destined to shine, but those around him thought it would be in golf, and not poker.

Schmidt headed to the University of California Irvine on a golf scholarship, where many people thought he would be able to match, and beat records that Woods has made in college at Stanford.  However, after just one year, Schmidt made the decision to end his college career.  His reasoning was that college wasn’t for him, and that he instead wanted to concentrate on making the pro golfing tour.

In order to turn pro Schmidt had to show a level of success in mini-tours, which equal to the minor leagues in golf.  It took Schmidt a couple of years, but when he was 23 he found himself closer to his goal as the top money earner on the Golden State Tour.  Schmidt has joked in interviews that his golf game peaked when he was just 15, but at 23 he was ever so close to playing with the elite on the PGA.  

When on break from the Golden State Tour he worked at his father’s grocery distribution center.  One day while moving some boxes his heart begin beating wildly, while he was experiencing more and more pain.  He was able to drive himself to the hospital, where he got the very shocking news that at 23 years old he had experienced a heart attack.  In addition to getting the news that if he had been a bit older he would have probably died, he was also told that he couldn’t do anything physical for six months, and if he wished to resume a golf career it would probably take up to a year for rehab.  Unfortunately, Schmidt knew that being unable to golf for 18 months would most likely put an end to his professional golfing ambitions.  

A few weeks after receiving the news he would have to take it easy for six months, a friend of his visited him in his apartment.  His friend was holding an expensive poker shirt, and told Schmidt he’d sell it to him for $50 so he could play online poker.  After giving his friend $50 for the shirt, his friend immediately logged onto a poker website and began playing.  Schmidt began asking questions about it, liking the idea that he could engage his mind and possibly make money while sitting in the comfort of his home, which he was advised by doctors to do so anyway.

Schmidt began playing cash games, losing money the first couple months, but gradually getting better in the process.  His disability checks coincided with the six months he was told not to do anything active at all, so he thought he would have to get a job soon in order to keep paying his medical bills.  However, in what became the biggest gamble of his life up to that point he decided to take the last $1,000 he had to his name and invest it in online poker.  He has never looked back.  

In 2006 his friend Casey Martin, who has a remarkable golf story as well, invited Schmidt to move into his home in Eugene, Oregon.  Martin was playing on the Nationwide golf tour, trying to earn his spot on the PGA tour, so he wasn’t home much.  During this time Schmidt really began improving his game, much to the surprise of Martin.  Martin would come home and see how much Schmidt had made, and it was oftentimes more than he was earning playing professional golf.  

In 2007 Schmidt really grabbed the attention of the poker public when he showed up at the 5/10 no limit hold’em cash games and earned the highest win rate at those stakes in the entire world.  In 2008 he did the same thing, only this time at 10/20 limits.  In one four month period, spanning the end of 2007 and start of 2008 he earned $600,000.  In addition to being a huge earner, he also achieved SuperNova Elite Status on PokerStars in just eight months, which at the time was a record.  Schmidt was recently announced as one of the new members of the PokerStars Team Online, where he is once again attempting to make SuperNova Elite Status this year.

In 2009 Schmidt got the itch to play competitive golf again.  He made a successful return on an amateur level, playing well in the Oregon Amateur Championship.  When the United States Golf Association got word of Schmidt’s return to golf, they were not pleased.  The USGA wished to have his amateur status revoked, mainly because of his poker career.  Also not pleasing members of the USGA was a challenge Schmidt had made on his website.  In the challenge he said he was willing to bet up to one million dollars that he could beat anyone in the world in a combination golf/poker match.  While nobody ever accepted his challenge, the USGA didn’t approve.  Schmidt attempted to defend his position in federal court, later joking that he was “defending his right not to earn money,” as amateur golfers aren’t paid.  Unfortunately for Schmidt he lost the case, losing his amateur stats.  However, he has remained close to the game, taking a position as volunteer assistant coach at Oregon University under his friend and former roommate Casey Martin.

Schmidt is now lending his expertise to those who wish to follow in his poker success as lead instructor of the website  In addition to training, he has also authored the book “Treat Your Poker Like a Business,” published in 2009. While the book has strategy tips, it focuses heavily on how to manage your money from poker once you earned it.  Later this year his autobiography “Raise: The Impossibly True Story of Dusty Schmidt” will hit the stands.  In addition to writing books he also is a columnist for CardPlayer Magazine.  

Schmidt still lives in Oregon, now in Portland, with his wife, Nicole, and infant daughter, Lennon.

*Read Billy Monroes’ Blog*

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