NJ Poker Pro Ryan Hagerty Grinds Poker At The WSOP Main Event

Stephen Abiola
Stephen Abiola

In a couple of days, the 2020 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event final table will kick off at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. The tournament has always brought pros from around the world to the poker table to compete for grand prizes counting into 7 figures. This year, however, things are a bit different. With the Covid-19 pandemic still ravaging the world, the in-person Summer WSOP was ultimately canceled. The final table sees poker pro squaring off in a hybrid Main Event where the action takes place online.

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One man with so much potential and a great shot at the bracelet is NJ Poker Pro, Ryan Hagerty. He joins at the final table where he will compete against other pros for a shot at the prize of $2,553,256.

The 28-year old poker pro from Somerset, New Jersey has seen much success since he kicked off his poker-playing career. He has already claimed almost $2 million in online tournament earnings though this is only his second WSOP Main Event. While he missed last summer’s event due to his sister’s wedding, the poker player almost didn’t play at this year’s event.

“It’s pretty sick, especially being the fact that the day of the tournament I wasn’t initially planning on playing it because I didn’t like if you got COVID you get ninth place,” he admitted. “I was back and forth on whether I should play it or not.”

He ultimately joined the table, but not after selling 50% of his potential payout. This was a genius move according to Hagerty as it helped him spilt the $10,000 buy-in tournament cost.

“I really had made up my mind that I wasn’t going to play,” Hagerty said. “Thank god I changed my mind.”

The ESPN-televised final table starts with Hagerty third in chips with 5,071,572. He already has a guaranteed win of $98,813 but could claim the bigger prize of $2,553,256.

Hagerty’s Humble Beginnings

Though Hagerty is one of the world’s most talented poker players, he didn’t outright pick poker as a career choice. Hagerty’s poker journey started 10 years ago, when he was playing $20 buy-in home games with friends as a high school senior.

As a newbie poker player, Hagerty lost his first five bets which amount to a $20 loss per game.

“But I really enjoyed playing. I was enjoying the atmosphere of poker. I liked the game. But I was like, I can’t just keep losing 20 bucks,” He recalled.

It wasn’t too long before he started absorbing strategy materials and reading articles about poker online. He could then become a regular online poker player when it was introduced in NJ in 2013.

However, Hagerty wasn’t too excited about going professional. He actually holds a degree in journalism from Rowan University and has looked to becoming a sportswriter. He would later give up on writing and move to Baltimore to be live with his girlfriend.

From Working At A Target to the World Championship

After a brief stint working at a Target, Hagerty found himself back at the Garden State when he won a $21,000 score in an online Borgata poker event.

“That was my big break. My girlfriend and I broke up, so I moved back to New Jersey and went back to the poker table.” Hagerty explained. “It’s an up-and-down rollercoaster.

There was a point in my career where I was pretty broke so I was Ubering, but I’ve never really had a real job, but these past three years, I’ve really honed my skills and saw myself improve a lot.”
Hagerty is one of three NJ poker pros heading to Las Vegas to play at the Main Event.