sheila sobchik

The dimly lit room was dusty and cramped, the mass of people huddled around one another created a scene reminiscent of “Fight Club,” stuffy and tense. Beneath the pile of onlookers, two identical twins sat glued to their computer waiting for the next few hands that would alter their futures.

One by one the cards were shown, and as each grouping of cards hit the table, the tension grew greater. Swelling and boiling with each professional’s best, the room exploded as both Devin and Taylor Biehn swept the table and won their way to the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.

Both twin brothers Taylor and Devin Biehn have turned the game of online poker into a college career. Combined, they play anywhere from 10 to 14 hours a day, have played in the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, and in just under two years have turned their initial investment of $50 into a lump of money that could easily buy a new Corvette.

“I wouldn’t put my money into any other form of investment, there’s nothing as profitable as poker,” said Devin Biehn, an agriculture business senior.

Online poker is so popular among college students that, in hopes of striking it rich, students have made poker their priority in life.

A new breed of businessmen, these individuals have traded in the sport-coats and office meetings in favor of T-shirts and playing cards. Accustomed to long days and sleepless nights in front of a computer screen – they aren’t watching Wall Street’s latest stocks. They’re one of the many Cal Poly students that have joined the growing nationwide trend of online college poker players.

Bringing the excitement of the “flop” and the “whoosh” of the shuffle to the Internet has brought about many advantages to this age-old pastime. The advent of online play brought the dazzle of Las Vegas into America’s homes and has given players the opportunity to play as many games as they want, anytime they want.

Adding to online poker’s popularity, players can participate in multiple games at once; where poker in person would only allow an individual to play one game at a time. Experienced online players can play upwards of six tables at once.

“I play up to eight tables at a time, which means I’m seeing roughly 300-400 hands per hour,” Devin Biehn said. “Now that school is in, I’m only playing roughly five hours a day.”

The ability to play multiple games simultaneously has made it possible for players to obtain serious profits. Being able to win and lose large amounts of money in a relatively short amount of time has opened and closed financial doors for students.

“The way I look at it, I haven’t worked since I was a freshman in high school,” agriculture business freshman Chris Corina said. “I’ve been able to buy a computer, a car (Subaru WRX) and still have around $25,000 to show.”

Much like the draw of the gold rush, the thought of striking it rich has turned the game of poker into more than a pastime. For many, it has become an investment and a way of life.

“It’s definitely more than a game, by the time I graduate I want a small fortune,” said, Taylor Biehn, an agriculture business senior.

Like many successful players, they’ve analyzed the game of poker and taken it far beyond a pastime. The Biehens explained that there are two keys to poker.

The first key to online poker stardom is being able to play the actual cards at hand and to be ready to overcome any situation you’re in.

“It’s seeing what’s happened in the past and using it now,” Taylor Biehn said.

“The difference between a good player and a better player is more experience. It’s the one hand that confuses the player, where the more experienced individual prevails,” Taylor Biehn said. “It’s just a lack of experience if you don’t know what to do.”

The second key to online poker glory is managing one’s payroll and playing within a skill level. A good player will stay within their monetary boundaries and never bet all of their money.

Using terminology at home in a Charles Schwab commercial, the Biehns explained that good players don’t “gamble” their money; gambling is when your total payroll is put on the line. A wise player never gambles more than 50 percent of their payroll.

“Top online players make $10,000-15,000 a week with $100,000 swings, but they need at least a $200,000 account to do that,” Devin Biehn said.

A swing is the amount of money a player’s payroll fluctuates while they’re playing. “There are natural swings going on during a game and you must be prepared for them,” Devin Biehn said.

A good player must be able to deal with the inevitable swings and know that even though there are fluctuations in payroll, overall if you are staying within your limits, you are still increasing your payroll, the twins said.

See Tuesday’s Mustang Daily for the second part of this series.

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