University student wins $41,000 in College Poker Championship

More than 25,000 college students competed for the scholarship money.

Liala Helal

ACorrection: The Daily misstated where the tournament was based. The College Poker Championship is an online tournament open to registered college and university students worldwide.

After the click of a mouse, the poker cards were revealed, and University student Chad Flood knew he had won.

On his computer screen, he saw he had the best hand, and the last opponent was out of chips. Out of more than approximately 25,000 college players from 55 countries, Flood won the 2005 College Poker Championship tournament May 22.

“I was pretty shocked; I was kind of in disbelief,” he said.

The 2nd annual tournament took place online, but is based in South Africa. Flood competed from his home computer.

He received a prize of a $41,000 scholarship and $1,000 to donate to the charity of his choice. He chose the American Diabetes Association.

“I thought it was a good cause,” he said. “It’s a disease with a good outlook in the near future.”

Flood started playing poker his junior year in high school. Since then, he has devoted many hours to practicing and reading books on poker strategy, he said. When he was not studying or working, he was playing poker.

“He plays online poker more than anyone I’ve ever seen and he still manages to get his schoolwork done,” his roommate Phil Mackey said.

On an average day, Flood practiced for approximately five hours, said Mackey, a journalism junior. He said the two became friends through the game.

Flood said the final game of the tournament took approximately four hours.

“They were all good players,” he said, “There were definitely a lot of close calls.”

While playing “heads up” against the last opponent, Flood said his opponent had approximately 500,000 chips, compared with his collection of approximately 100,000.

“He had a really big chip lead on me. So I caught a few hands and it kind of turned around like that,” Flood said.

Luck contributed to his victory, he said.

“It’s not all skill. You also have to get lucky to win a tournament that size.”

Lou Krieger, author of more than 400 columns and seven books on poker strategy, was the volunteer host of the College Poker Championship. He watched the final tournament.

“Chad made an amazing and dramatic comeback from sort of hanging on to the precipice of that event by his fingertips, to winning it all,” Krieger said.

In online poker, the computer shuffles and deals the cards, saving time for the players.

“It’s nice because you see a lot of hands quicker,” he said.

But not being able to see the other players makes it harder to read players. How players act can give clues as to what cards they hold, he said.

In online poker, “you can only look at how they bet to see what hands they are playing,” he said.

“All you can do as a poker player is make the right decision and if the cards fall your way you’re going to win.”

As Flood spends the summer in his hometown, Fond du Lac, Wis., he said, the full realization that he won is still setting in.

“I definitely knew I was going to play every year, but I never knew how good I could play,” he said.

Flood said he plans to defend his championship next year. He also would like to compete in the World Series Poker tournament in the next few years if he has the money for it.