Wall Street Traders Go All In For Poker
Find out who's making millions on Wall Street and the turn of a card.
Dec. 7, 2009— -- As poker stars go, Burt Boutin isn't the best known. Still, the player nicknamed "Red Bull Burt" has won more than $2 million in World Series of Poker tournaments and has been a regular face on ESPN's featured tables.
Although it's not like this full-time Las Vegas resident doesn't have a regular job. He does: Professional money manager.
Boutin could, if he chose to, trade slow days tracking S&P blue chips in exchange for fast nights amassing chips at the tables. But he's not giving up his day job.
"I get burned out playing poker," Boutin, 42, admits. "It gets old – but the stock market is constantly challenging me."
In recent years, the financial industry and high-stakes professional poker realms have been increasingly intersecting, with a number of Wall Street figures crossing over into the WSOP scene. Online poker's popularity, meanwhile, has exploded into a $10 billion-plus industry despite government measures to curb Internet gambling.
Poker playing may well be today what day trading was in the 1990s. On any given day, at any given moment, hundreds of thousands of players are glued to their computer screens competing on virtual tables. "PokerStars" and "Full Tilt" are two of the more popular sites featuring more than 60,000 combined games between them that run nonstop and cost between $10 and $200 to buy into.
Online poker is extremely popular among Wall Street types.
"Poker is a trader's game," says Scott Redler, cofounder of T3, a Manhattan-based day trading firm. "Roulette, blackjack, those are based more on luck. But with a game like No Limit Texas Hold 'Em, you need patience and discipline, or in other words the exact same skills needed to be a good trader."
Boutin, a Philadelphia native, started out as a stock broker in the 1990s and made his way to the Las Vegas poker circuit in 2001.
"He's a sharp guy and a good card player but it was surprising to see how quickly he made it into the upper echelon of that world," says Burt's younger brother, Clinton Boutin, a financial consultant based in New York City.
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