Rotary Online Makeup Program

Meeting Date: 29 March 2013

Prepared By: Joe Tehan


CRAFT TALK: You can bet on that!

Picture courtesy of 
Steve Hall -

"Poker is a hard way to make an easy living"

It's a popular poker quote and whoever was the first to say it was one very smart man. I think very few people have the ability to become a truly successful professional poker player.

Joe Tehan is a successful professional gambler who was a poker-made millionaire by the age of 25. Born in Utica, New York, Joe now resides in California and plays poker professionally. He owns a WPT title (Mandalay Bay, 2006), has over 100 money-finishes and has earned millions in tournament winnings throughout the course of his career.

Some of Joe's Championships:


United States

$ 4,750 No Limit Hold'em - Main Event
North American Poker Tour - Los Angeles, Los Angeles




United States

$ 350 No Limit Hold'em
Detox Poker Series, Las Vegas




United States

$ 1,000 No Limit Hold'em
Bellagio Weekly Tournaments - Nov 2007, Las Vegas




United States

$ 40,000 No Limit Hold'em - Western Conference
2007 US Poker Bowl, Las Vegas




United States

$ 2,500 No Limit Hold'em
Mirage Poker Showdown, Las Vegas




United States

$ 1,000 Super Satellite
Festa Al Lago V Poker Tournament, Las Vegas




United States

$ 10,000 WPT Championship Event - No Limit Hold'em
Mandalay Bay Poker Championship, Las Vegas




United States

$ 294 No Limit Hold'em
2006 L.A. Poker Classic, Los Angeles


18-Jan-2012 United States $ 1,500 No Limit Hold'em
2012 Southern Poker Million Dollar Heater, Biloxi
16-Jan-2012 United States $ 500 Pot Limit Omaha Hi/Lo
2012 Southern Poker Million Dollar Heater, Biloxi
18-Jan-2012 United States $ 1,500 No Limit Hold'em2012 Southern Poker Million Dollar Heater, Biloxi 1st  
16-Jan-2012 United States $ 500 Pot Limit Omaha Hi/Lo
2012 Southern Poker Million Dollar Heater, Biloxi


Joe Tehan has been the epitome of rock solid player throughout his poker career. After growing up playing cards against my grandmother, I got started when I was younger, like fourth or fifth grade. I would go home, finish my homework and I would go to my grandmother's house and play her. I played all sorts of card games. I am a pretty decent numbers guy. I started out just for fun. Poker was totally the last thing I thought I would be doing, career-wise.

My brother is a big executive at a big company, both my sisters have PhD's in physics and chemistry, and everyone in my family was very strict. When I decided to play poker, my dad was not crazy about it, but he knew that I was going to be smart about it. Joe has moved on to be a powerful opponent. His results are impressive.

I moved to Las Vegas with about $6,000. My first couple sessions in the bigger games, I lost quite a bit of money. "I know I'm better than these guys." I worked my way up. When you're winning, you just keep playing bigger.

2006 was a monster year. I had a really good start. I had five scores of $100,000 or more in 18 months. You still have to run good to win tournaments, but I played well. I was going with it. I had played two or three years worth of cash games, then I won $300,000 and, "Wow! I seem to have a knack for this," so I kept going.

Now I feel like I'm the best I've ever been. I am comfortable in almost every situation—that is from putting in so many hours at the table. I have it figured out! I know how to handle and react to each situation. There's not much I haven't seen at a poker table. But there are still swings.

An example of Tehan was never more evident than when he shoved with 4-2 off suit in a 2012 tournament. The hand is one of the most brazen ever recorded on camera and had the poker world buzzing.

Mix-Max Main Event Money Bubble Hand Video: 2:01 minutes:


Poker Pro Joe Tehan: "'Charging Inferior Hands' Is How You Make Money In Poker."
Cash Game Grinder Says That The Game Isn't About Bluffing.

The last couple years, I haven't played many no-limit tournaments. I haven't played many events outside of the World Series. I moved away from Vegas, I have a new family and I have a son about ten months old. Things have slowed down, as far as tournaments. I bowl, golf, and play 20 to 30 hours of poker per week. I still love gambling. I will bet on sports and all the stuff that degenerate gamblers should be doing! I'll take some money and invest in businesses. All the money I've ever made has come from poker.

When poker becomes your sole source of income the following cliché becomes very true; poker is a tough way to make an easy living.

People who play poker professionally and barely scrape by month after month, in my opinion, those people are not successful professionals. So why is it so hard to play poker successfully on a long-term scale?
Surely it can't be that hard? It may seem that way but the games may not be as easy as you think. Everyone thinks they are an expert at poker… "All these idiots will just donate me money!"

An interview after winning the NAPT Championship in Los Angeles:

NAPT Los Angeles 2010: Champion Joe Tehan: 3:14 minutes



Lisa Tehan/Nomura

Did you hear the interviewer's name? Lisa Tehan nee Nomura, Joe's wife, a member of One World Rotary and the daughter of PDG Wade who was the District Governor when the Rotary club of One World was chartered.


What it Takes to be a Professional Poker Player

Joe believes it is experience and confidence. He has never read a book on poker.

One professional site ( believes; must technical skills in at least one form of poker, able to deal with the financial and emotional swings, you need to play high enough stakes and volume of hands to sustain it month-in, month-out. Professional players usually exhibit:

  • Self-motivation - You will not always want to play poker. Especially if you are in a downswing or your friends are doing something that seems like more fun. Sometimes, though, when a game is really good, other things just have to be put on hold.
  • Discipline - Sometimes you need to take a shot at a higher limit game when the table looks juicy. However, doing undisciplined things like chasing losses and playing on tilt will make you go broke before you even realize what happened.
  • Adaptability - There are a lot of things you may need to adapt to. You may need to adjust to a new schedule possibly, new stakes, new players, new styles and even new sites or new games. Change with the times or get left behind.
  • Creativity - You can't always play ABC poker. Sometimes you need to mix things up, confuse your opponents and try some new strategies.


Why do so Many Wannabe Pro Poker Players Fail?

A major reason is lack of bankroll management. Professional Gambling is more of a Profession than it is a Gamble!


(Ed. Note: Joe is Wade's son-in-law, married to Wade's Daughter, Lisa. Joe is a friend and brother-in-law to Ryan Nomura, a professional Golfer married to Julie Rye. Julie is California bowling Champion. All four of Wade's kids are members of the Rotary EClub of One World which was chartered when Wade Nomura was the District Governor. By the way, Wade was a champion Motocross racer in his earlier years.)

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