Brock Wilson could have done anything after graduating college, but he didn’t choose poker right away. Despite winning at the game from the start, Wilson’s inevitable life as a high-stakes poker player was briefly delayed by an equally promising career in finance.
Prior to his arrival on the high roller scene, Wilson was an academic all-star at Fordham University in New York City, spending all four of his years on the Dean’s List and graduating with a decorated degree in mathematics and finance. After college he worked for two years as an analyst in the banking industry, building up his bankroll and his skillset before finally taking the leap into poker full time.
He currently sits in fifth on the PokerGO Tour leaderboard after an impressive set of six final table finishes so far. Wilson is at the USPO this week in search of his first win on tour.
What is the US Poker Open? Read all about the tour’s history here
Finding a Life in Poker
Wilson’s journey to high-stakes poker started as a teenager, winning at the game from an early age.
“I’ve been playing poker since I was in high school,” he told PokerNews. “I would do very well against my high school friends, so I’d take some money and put it online. I got to college and started a college game and I did pretty well.”
Grinding poker and doing well at it was fun, but the move into playing professionally wasn’t an immediate choice after finishing school. Wilson instead went to work as an analyst for a major bank. “I was always enjoying poker, but I was very serious about school and majoring in finance. I enjoyed that and all my friends were in finance, so that was the goal and trajectory for me. But I was always playing poker on Sundays with my friends.”
Despite a bright future in banking, Wilson continued to take a serious approach to poker while working. He would continue to study and play while grinding away at his first real-world job.
“I was working in finance and I would always take two weeks of vacation to play the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. Finance was going well but I always felt like I wanted to go for my dream of playing. I had built a little bit of a bankroll playing online, so I decided I was going to take a risk while I was young and didn’t have major financial responsibilities. I quit my job two years out of school in 2018.”
One of the catalysts for Wilson’s choice to play professionally was the relationship he developed with high-stakes player Ali Imsirovic.
“I met Ali online and we would play online together. He started doing well and we would talk a lot of strategy.” Wilson and Imsirovic had become friends through a mutual acquaintance online, bonding over their thoughts on game theory and strategy. When Wilson left his job, Imsirovic was already making a name for himself. “Ali was already starting to emerge on the high rollers. I was traveling to all the different spots. I went to every single different stop there was. I was so focused on studying and improving.”
Wilson is open about his early struggles at higher stakes. “I played my first $25,000 tournament in late 2018 and didn’t cash, and then I played a few other high roller tournaments in early 2019 and didn’t cash in those either.” But the hard work yielded results in no time and Wilson ended 2019 on a red hot run.
“Eventually in late 2019 I had a run of a few different big ones, and that really helped with my confidence.”
He won over $1 million in tournaments over just November and December of that year, including a win at the Bicycle Casino High Roller Series and two massive chops in $25,000 buy-in tournaments at the WPT Seminole Rock and Roll Poker Open in Florida and the partypoker MILLIONS Super High Roller in the Bahamas.
“Eventually in late 2019 I had a run of a few different big ones, and that really helped with my confidence,” he said. “You can feel like you’re doing a lot of things right, but when you build a financial cushion you feel like you can brick a few tournaments and feel less pressure.”
High-Stakes Poker During COVID-19
Everything was going according to plan for Wilson when COVID-19 disrupted the world, but he was prepared to make the adjustment.
“I was always doing well online and at the start of quarantine, a lot of players who didn’t usually play online were going to be there. I probably played six days a week, 12-15 hours a day for the first two months. I would play every day in different tournaments and I feel like I got a lot better.”
Quarantine didn’t slow down Wilson’s move to Las Vegas in mid-2020, and when live poker came back he was ready.
“As soon as I was allowed to play live I was back,” he said.
His academic approach to poker allowed him to take advantage of the studying that he did during the shutdown. “I think I improved a lot at ICM online. When you play a lot of live tournaments with big fields, you don’t get to the final table that much. When you play a lot of online poker you have a lot more tournaments where you get to the final table.”
Getting the Most from Success
Despite his initial success, Wilson sees a lot to improve on as he gets more exposure at higher stakes.
“For me, one of the biggest things that I’ve always struggled with is my expressiveness and live tells,” he admitted. “I am conscious that I could be giving off live tells, specifically in these fields.”
He also acknowledges the difficulty of playing against some of the best players in the world in high roller tournaments: “You don’t get as many free chip opportunities. You have to fight for the pot a lot harder in every single spot. Players don’t just fold a lot. They will defend their big blind so you can’t just raise and take it. When you check-raise the flop, they will float you and they won’t give up. Every spot feels like players are just making it tougher for you to win the hand and every hand is tougher to win. Everyone is a little more studied.”
Wilson’s ambitions in poker are simple. He wants to stick around and play well, and try to get better every day.
“My goal is to continue to do well enough to play. I really enjoy my life right now. In terms of money, I’d like to just keep winning and doing well, not for the sake of getting super rich, but if you can make decent money doing something you enjoy you should keep doing it. If I’m enjoying myself but I am losing, I can’t really justify doing it.”
He concluded: “My goal is to continue to improve and play in bigger stakes tournaments. I don’t want to say that I don’t want to be number one, but it’s not like I’m gunning to be number one. I just want to be among the best players and try to always get better. I want to win some things and make a reasonable amount that lets me continue to do this and not have to consider doing anything else.”
For more on Brock Wilson, follow him on Twitter @BWilson9999.
Remember, an annual subscription to PokerGO costs $99.99, but you can save $20 off by using promo code “USPO21” at checkout. Sign up by going here.
*Images courtesy of PokerGO.
- 1 2021 U.S. Poker Open Begins Thursday With First of 12 Events
- 2 The USPO is Back: A Historical Look at PokerGO’s US Poker Open (USPO)
- 3 Dan Shak Leads Star-Studded Final Table in U.S. Poker Open Event #1: $10,000 NLHE
- 4 Jake Daniels Wins the U.S. Poker Open Event #1: $10,000 No Limit Hold’em ($218,500)
- 5 PokerGO Point Standings Leading Into 2021 US Poker Open; Imsirovic Leads
- 6 Sam Soverel Wins USPO Event #2: $10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha ($175,500)
- 7 Joe McKeehen Wins USPO Event #3: $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em ($200,200)
- 8 Chris Brewer Transitions from Collegiate Runner to High-Stakes Poker Pro
- 9 John Riordan Wins U.S. Poker Open $10K Big Bet Mix ($163,200)
- 10 Joey Weissman Mounts Comeback for the Ages to Win USPO Event #5: $10K NLHE ($204,000)
- 11 Eli Elezra Defeats Zolotow & Negreanu to Win the USPO $10K 8-Game ($183,600)
- 12 David Peters Wins Record-Breaking USPO Event #7: $10,000 NLHE ($217,800)
- 13 No Gamble, No Future: Jeff Platt & Brent Hanks Chemistry Shines During USPO
- 14 Jared Bleznick Wins USPO Event #8: $10K PLO ($189,000)
- 15 Brock Wilson Banks on Building a Name for Himself at the USPO