MBA Poker Hopefuls Head to Vegas
Put your money where your mouth is
All work and no play make Jack a dull boy, so the saying goes, which is why over 500 MBAs and alumni from leading b-schools headed to
The championship, which took place from 15 to 17th January, was open to full-time, part-time and alumni MBAs who could participate in three different ‘
In order to attend, championship entrants had to submit their CVs to recruiters, forming a highly skilled pool as over 30 b-schools pitted their Poker skills against each other.
“Most MBAs are not thinking about working in the gaming industry after business school,” said Brad Warga, vice president of talent acquisition at Harrah’s Entertainment, the world’s biggest casino operator and main sponsor of the tournament, in an interview with Bloomberg.com. “They are thinking about consulting, financial services. Our message was, ‘Hey, don’t sit in a cubicle and do Excel modelling all day.”
BusinessBecause spoke to Erik Chavez, a Chicago Booth alum, who won the main event on Saturday taking home $12,600, and maintaining Booth’s winning streak: the school triumphed four out of seven times in the Saturday tournaments.
After he won, he treated his friends to Burger King: “It was late so there weren’t many restaurants open,” said Chavez, whose Booth classmate, Brad Jones, launched the MBA poker tournament in 2004, which was picked up by Harrah’s Entertainment two years later.
“Everybody is wearing their sweater with their school name on it. It’s a very collegial experience, there’s a lot of camaraderie and everyone has a strong sense of school pride, but everyone is there to have a good time,” said Chavez.
Jake Howard, 38, fought off competition from the likes of Harvard and UCLA to win $2,100 in the Sunday tournament. The
“They [colleagues] knew I was good, but they didn’t know I was that good. Maybe they will give me a little bit of credibility,” he joked.
Another student who participated was Dave Kim, a part-time second-year MBA, from the University of Washington Foster School of Business. “Not having played in a tournament larger than about 40 people, this was a new experience for me. [My aim was to] have fun and take a breather from b-school,” said Kim.
According to Booth’s Chavez, skills learned in poker are transferable to finance.
“In Poker, as in finance, you’re trying to use your analytical skills make decisions with imperfect info, manage your risk and balance that with your reward,” he said. “You have to be extremely disciplined and you have to be patient.”
The MBA Poker Tournament has a history of donating a proportion of its winnings to the Alzheimer's Association and Cleveland Clinic. This year it donated $3,170, having already generated $33,000 during its first four years.
Daniel Martin of Chicago Booth won Friday’s tournament.
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