Brett Parise: UCI’s Own Poker Pro

Life isn’t too shabby after winning almost $200,000 and a poker championship title. Just ask fourth-year business economics major Brett Parise.
On Sept. 9, Parise flew to the Philippines to play in the Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT) Manila Main Event held at the Hyatt Casino and Hotel.
After three grueling days of bets, bluffs and mucho bucks, Parise came out victorious. He earned himself $179,775, a first-place trophy and bragging rights.
Parise was first introduced to poker six years ago by his brother.
‘The fact that you can win a lot of money attracted me,’ Parise said.
Winning a large amount of money is a definite possibility in No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em Poker. Players use their own pair of cards and five cards openly shared between all active players. Out of seven cards, the player with the best five-card hand is the winner of the pot (the amount of money each player pays to see a hand unfold).
In a tournament, each player is required to pay a buy-in (a set amount of money to purchase a seat at a table with chips). Once a player loses all their chips, they lose their money and the tournament.
The winner is the last remaining player, who earns all chips from other players. The player’s prize is the majority of the sum of buy-ins.
Seventy-two hours into the tournament, when only poker professionals remains, Parise is at the final table entering heads-up (one-on-one) with 45-year-old attorney Ira Blumenthal. The opponents play an almost three-hour-long tennis match as the chip lead flies from one court to the other.
‘I was more anxious than nervous,’ Parise said.
Finally, Parise recognizes his perfect opportunity. Before the Flop (three openly shared cards), Blumenthal calls all-in (bets all his remaining chips) with a jack of hearts and five of hearts. Parise quickly calls with pocket (a pair of) 10s.
The flop is a king of spades, queen of clubs and nine of clubs. Tensions arise as Blumenthal now has an inside straight draw, which means he needs only one card, a 10, to win everything.
A confident Parise already has two 10s, and the remaining card does not work in Blumenthal’s favor. Parise prevails as the 2007 APPT Manila Main Event champion.
Luck and possibly fate were on Parise’s side from day one. Previously, Parise won an online tournament on pokerstars.com; his prize was a free buy-in to the APPT in Manila. On top of that, Parise received his passport only two hours before departing for the Philippines.
‘I signed up for a passport at school,’ Parise said. ‘Apparently, it takes a little bit longer at school, so I had to go down to the passport office, and luckily they were able to get me a passport two hours before I left.’
Texas Hold’Em is not just a game of luck but of skill. At any time, a player can bluff their opponents into thinking the total opposite of reality.
For that reason, professional players tend to be especially keen to body language and playing patterns.
‘Really study your opponents,’ Parise said. ‘First, body language