It shouldn’t come as a surprise that professional poker players are a brainy bunch. Being good with numbers, critical thinking and reading human behavior all just some of the skills that come in handy in the poker arena, particularly when competing against the best in the business at big tournaments like the World Series of Poker (WSOP). Plus, having the capacity to hit the books means these players are likely to put in the hours honing their craft. But which professional players have picked up degrees? Here are just three of the brainiest professional poker players out there:
1. Liv Boeree
Not only is British poker player Liv Boeree, the only female player in the history of poker to be both European Poker Tour and World Series of Poker champion, but she also has a First Class Honors degree in physics and astrophysics from Manchester University. When Liv’s not playing the game, she keeps herself busy working as a model, speaker, writer and TV presenter. Boeree’s poker career is seriously impressive. Her total live earnings exceed $3.5 million, and she is currently No. 5 on the female-all time live poker winnings list.
2. Chris Ferguson
Known for his signature Stetson and long hair, Ferguson has picked up wins in an impressive six World Series of Poker events. Prior to his poker success, Ferguson spent 13 years as a graduate student at UCLA, ticking off master’s degrees in computer science and mathematics, as well as a doctorate in computer science. It’s apparently his in-depth understanding of game theory that has allowed him to win more bracelets, reach more final tables and achieve more cash finishes than most of the players in the history of the game.
3. Bill Chen
When Bill Chen isn’t bluffing his way to victory around the poker table, he is a quantitative analyst and software designer who holds a Ph.D in mathematics from the University of California and as an undergrad triple-majored in computer science, mathematics and physics. Back at the 2006 World Series of Poker, Chen won two of the competition’s biggest events: a $2,500 No-Limit Hold’em Short-Handed event, where he won $442,511 and a $3,000 Texas Hold’em event, winning $343,618 — all in all, a good weekend for this serious brain box. Over the course of his sparkling career, Chen has cashed 38 times at the WSOP and has notched up $1.9 million in live tournament winnings. Just shows that paying attention in math class is still important.