PLAYER PROFILE – Tom ‘durrrr’ Dwan
Tom Dwan is an American professional poker player most known for his online career. He started playing online under the screen name “durrrr” in 2004, becoming infamous for regularly competing against other household names like Phil Ivey, Patrik Antonius, and Viktor “Isildur1” Blom.
Being a regular at nosebleeds – the highest stakes possible in online poker – meant Dwan experienced bankroll swings other players could only imagine. He was a frequent sight at some of the largest pots in online poker history, winning and losing millions throughout his online sessions.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Dwan was his age in relation to his earnings. He began playing at just 17, and by 23, he had made over $10 million playing online poker. Since turning 21, he has cashed in notable live tournaments like the WSOP, World Poker Tour (WPT), and European Poker Tour (EPT).
He has also appeared on poker TV shows including Million Dollar Cash Game, NBC’s National Heads-Up Poker Championship, GSN’s High-Stakes Poker, and NBC’s Poker After Dark.
Thomas Dwan Jr. was born in Edison, New Jersey, on July 30th, 1986. With a middle-class upbringing, he learned the value of hard work, which he would undoubtedly apply in his career later on.
Growing up, Dwan enjoyed sports like soccer and tennis at Edison High School. He was also frequently involved in other extracurriculars, being a member of the Spanish, debate, and math clubs.
Dwan’s other hobbies were primarily card games. He, like many other poker pros, played Magic: the Gathering. He also played a lot of poker with his friends. Once Dwan received $50 from his parents on his 17th birthday, these friends suggested he use it on an online poker site as they recognized his skill. At first, Dwan wasn’t too keen on the idea, apprehensive about gambling online. Eventually, he gave in, opening his first account on the site under the screen name “durrrr.”
The $6 sit-and-go tournaments Dwan tried didn’t work out, leading Dwan to switch his focus to cash games. Here, he found his footing, building a bankroll of $15,000 in only four months.
Dwan kept going, raising enough money to pay for college. He enrolled at Boston University, and things went great during his first year. Despite this, Dwan continued to grind and improve his game, eventually telling his parents he wouldn’t return to school, instead choosing to pursue a career as a poker pro.
After building up a sizable bankroll, Dwan took his game to the two biggest poker sites in the United States, at the time, around 2005. He began by frequenting nosebleed cash games, getting matched up against players like Phil Ivey, Chris Ferguson, and Mike Matusow.
When Tom was 19, Bluff Magazine interviewed his roommates, David Benefield and Chris Vaughn. “A quick sesh for Dwan involved him opening up six tables with the smallest limit being played was $100/$200 NL Hold’em.” Vaugh recounted how he had witnessed Dwan earn over $200,000 in less than an hour.
Dwan’s reputation quickly grew to the point where it became difficult for him to find a game. Players feared “durrrr”, a nickname he chose to annoy those who lost to him. Because of this, most of Dwan’s games were pre-scheduled heads-up matches against other well-known players.
Since turning 21, Dwan has made his debut in the land tournament scene, amassing over $6 million in live earnings. He finished fourth in the 2007 WPT, earning $324,244. He also finished second in the WPT Borgata Winter Open for $226,100.
In 2010, Dwan came second in the $1,500 No Limit Hold’em event of the WSOP for $381,885. Since then, he’s had a few more notable scores, like winning $50,000 on Week 4 of Poker After Dark. He’s cashed twice at the Aussie Millions Poker Championship and finished eighth in the Triton Poker Super High Roller Series London for $793,775, his biggest live cash to date.
The ‘durrrr ‘Challenge
In January 2009, Dwan issued his famous million-dollar “durrrr” challenge. He challenged any poker player in the world – except Phil Galfond – to beat him over 50,000 hands while 4-tabling at stakes of 200/400 or higher in No Limit Holdem or Pot Limit Omaha.
Dwan would give his opponent $1.5 million if they won, while only taking $500,000 from them if they lost, aside from regular winnings and losses.
The results of this challenge were mixed, with only two players taking Dwan up on his offer so far. The first was Patrik Antonius, but after 40,000 hands and a $2,059,719 lead by Dwan, Antonius bought his way out of the bet.
The second player, Daniel ‘jungleman’ Cates, proved to be a much more formidable opponent. Cates built a $1,251,059 lead over 19,335 hands, leading the match being paused. No games have been played in about a decade and there has been no official comment as to whether or not the bet will ever be completed.