American poker pro Bryan Paris has already cashed for more than $12 million on the virtual tables, and in 2016 was the second player to hit $10 million in online cashes. According to PocketFives’ All-Time Leaderboard, only 33 players have ever achieved that milestone.
On the live poker circuit, this Natural8 Team Hot ambassador has also cashed for nearly $800,000. He was one of the first American poker pros to fully relocate after Black Friday hit back in 2011 - first calling Canada his temporary home, and then Europe since 2013.
But how did it all start and where does his passion for poker come from?
“I studied Economics at university. I was playing poker the entire time, and basically went right into that after graduating,” Bryan said. “I managed to avoid ever having to get a “real job”.”
Bryan first discovered poker when he was in high school, a beginning similar to those of many other current North American poker pros. After all, the initial online poker boom really kicked off in 2003 following the victory of online qualifier Chris MoneyMaker in the World Series of Poker Main Event.
“I started with poker in 2002, playing home games with my friends in high school. Mostly weird mixed games like Chicago and Baseball. In 2003 when I went to university and turned 18 years old, I started playing on PokerStars. A lot of my Magic-playing friends had moved into poker so that was a natural entry point for me. I never really took any time off, and I’ve basically been playing a ton of online poker continually since 2003.”
Outside of poker, the soon-to-be 35 year old and father of two is still playing a decent amount of his first card game: Magic: The Gathering. The jump into the world of poker comes as no surprise then, as many current poker pros such as Brock Parker, Scott Seiver, Isaac Haxton, and Justin Bonomo followed the same path and showcased talents in both card games.
“I have also gone back into retro video games; I’ve been playing them with my four-year-old son lately,” Bryan said. “And not long ago I was getting pretty heavily into lifting and fitness before the pandemic struck, although I’ve become somewhat lazy about that since.”
That being said, how does a typical session of a seasoned online poker pro look like these days? And what is the secret ingredient that gets the ball rolling? For Bryan, that certainly is “large amounts of coffee, mostly.” He tends to jump right into the action after putting the kids to bed and follows a proven strategy.
“To start my sessions I’ll frequently ramp up to 20 tables or more, but it tails off quickly as I bust things. The most I ever played was probably somewhere north of 30 back in the old days, although I certainly would not recommend going that high. I’m probably most comfortable around 12-15. Having too few tables actually risks me losing focus unless they are for substantial stakes.”
Bryan considers being very good at multitasking, and “coming up with good heuristics that apply across most spots” as a key factor for his success. However, he also realizes that the inverse of this – not being detail-oriented – can be a weakness. As a result, game selection and knowing your niche to be profitable is a must, which the American grinder seems to have figured out.
“I am pretty happy with where my game is at these days, but I don’t think I’ll ever be truly world-class on the level of the Super High Roller circuit crew,” Bryan ruminates.
His preferred game type is the plain and simple No Limit Hold’em tournaments, and the only times he dabbles in other variants are likely caused by misclicks when registering for tournaments. However, he reveals that he has also put a lot of study into PKOs and satellites, as those games make up an increasingly large part of the schedule these days.
Indeed, the GGPoker Network (GGPN) recently held their first festival consisting solely of Progressive Knockout (PKO) tournaments. PKOs have been part of all major online poker festivals for some time, providing players the chance to earn instant cash rewards for every opponent they eliminate from the tournament.
Speaking of cash and profit, that is by default always on the mind of a professional poker player. Cutting deals has become standard procedure on the live poker circuit, an option also available on Natural8 Final Tables. But which one is more important for Bryan: the title and less cash, or no title but more cash?
“It depends on the prestige of the title,” he says, “On a personal level I’ll usually just take the cash, but with my Twitch stream and Natural8 sponsorship, titles start to take on more value.”
For Bryan, his first big personal achievement in the virtual arena was back in 2009 for approximately $83,000, when he faced Shaun Deeb in heads-up in the Sunday Brawl.
“My biggest score prior to this was in the $30,000 range. He always thought I sucked - to be fair, I did back then - and laughed at me when I offered him an even chop with my slight chip lead. I beat him about 15 minutes later and it was the most satisfying win of my career even now.”
There aren’t as many extraordinary moments from the live poker circuit for Bryan, as his main focus lies in the online arena. Back in 2014 during the EPT Monte-Carlo, he won a €2,200 Side Event and jumped right into the next one to finish 4th for more than $100,000 combined.
“I had never really broken through live until that year, so it was very nice to finally collect my first win there,” he shared.
In that same year he also attended the EPT Vienna, which he considered his favourite live poker stop. A close second is Prague, which Bryan describes as a very affordable and underrated city, and perfect during this time of year with the Christmas market.
Since then, his Hendon Mob profile has featured almost exclusively European flags. Ironically, while Bryan has visited his namesake capital of Paris a few times, a French flag is nowhere to be found. And with continued success on the online poker tables, a move back to the USA is not on the mind of the American poker expat right now.
“At first it was just for poker, but over time I’ve come to appreciate the lifestyle quite a bit. I have no imminent plans to return to America any time soon,” he readily admitted.
One thing the American poker pro also realized a few years ago was the need to diversify his presence, be it via coaching or staking platforms. Especially since he solely focuses on MTTs, the swings that come along with it can be quite large and long. Having more sources of income is a way of reducing some of that pressure.
“Doing coaching has been very good for me as well, not so much for the money but because it forces me to study so I know what the hell I’m talking about! My first love is always just mass grinding tables, but doing a few of these other things has helped me become much more of a well-rounded player and opened up many opportunities.”
Streaming poker action on platforms such as Twitch has become very popular these days, although this was not the case back in 2016 when Bryan first started. His motivation back then was to chronicle his journey and raise his own profile in the poker world, as he was on track to be the second player to ever hit $10 million in cashes but relatively few people had ever heard of him.
While streaming potentially adds pressure on the player to perform well and also attracts keyboard warriors that analyse each and every move, Bryan happily deals with it on a regular basis for a very specific reason.
“I don’t feel additional pressure from streaming. If anything it probably helps me play better when I have a small number of tables, as I am explaining my thought process in real time.”
As one might imagine, this multi-tasking process becomes far more difficult at the start of a typical session when two dozen or more tables are open at the same time. A tweak to his streaming schedule was required and Paris came up with a strategy.
“Lately I’ve been trying to only stream when I have deep runs. This seems to have resulted in a lot of deep runs lately, so I expect I will stick to it going forward.”
Most recently, Bryan also added a victory in the popular $210 Beat the Pros bounty event - where participants earn a seat in a $5,000 Freeroll for knocking out sponsored pros, ambassadors and other featured players - to his 2020 resume.
If you want to battle against Bryan and other sponsored pros, check out the tournament lobbies on Natural8. Don’t forget to also head over to his Twitch channel and learn from one of poker’s most accomplished online MTT specialists.
Cover image source: PokerNews