Plattsburgh State alumnus Jerry Wong (’11) will be competing in the World Series of Poker as part of the final “November Nine,” Sunday, October 30 and Monday, November 1. Wong will be playing for the title and a prize of $8,000,000.
As part of the final nine contestants, Wong began as one of 6,737 players, the highest number of hopefuls in five years. Since playing in this year’s world series bracket, Wong has earned over $118,000 throughout 60 events.
Wong began playing poker while studying at Clinton County Community College. He and his friends played in the dorm halls, and Wong then began playing online and at the Akwesasne Casino and various casinos in Montreal.
He then transferred to PSUC, studying business. He said being a business major has helped in his poker skills in that it taught him how to “think and deal with competition from peers.”
He said he had always enjoyed math and money, but studying business helped to focus and strengthen his natural ability.
Of his time at PSUC, Wong said he was fond of classes taught by Professors Mohamed Gaber and Mark Kaiser.
“I found the classes of Doctor Gaber and Mr. Mark Kaiser to be very intellectually stimulating and challenging,” Wong said. “I developed a friendship with Dr. Dexter Criss as well through our time together with gospel choir.”
Wong and Criss met while Wong played the piano under Criss’s direction. Criss said he keeps in touch with Wong through Facebook and was happy to see how far Wong had advanced in the tournament.
“He is a really cool kid,” Criss said. “He gets along with so many people. Everybody knows Jerry.”
Wong also said he enjoys poker, aside from the money, because it is a game of strategy, time, focus and luck. He said poker serves as a kind of “ecosystem” and “meritocracy,” as the world series players are chosen based off their skill levels.
“I’ve been able to go to countries I otherwise wouldn’t. I’ve been to Italy, Spain and Costa Rica,” Wong said of his poker travels.
If he clutches the grand prize, Wong said he plans to extend a preexisting trip to Japan. He said he hopes to use the money to travel the rest of the world.
“He’s a good guy,” Chriss said. “I’m really happy for him. He followed the dream, which is rare.”
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