About Dennis Waterman
|Current Residence||Sedona Ariz.|
He describes himself as a hologram from hundreds of previous lives as a Buddhist monk. He's a meandering spiritualist and an elusive figure on a similarly elusive quest for enlightenment. He's a man of nature, a former logger who lived in seclusion in the bush.
And yet, Dennis Waterman is also a professional poker player.
Born and raised in Oregon, Waterman became a logger at the age of 13. Though the job was manual labor, it was Waterman's mind that was always working hardest. As a teen he excelled at strategy games, playing poker and chess when stormy weather kept tree fallers out of the bush.
By 16, he had earned chess master status and was competing in tournaments around the world. The game was in the midst of the Bobby Fisher boom and Waterman was in the thick of it, earning the prestigious Brilliancy Prize at the annual American Open chess tournament in 1973.
During that time, however, Waterman was also in the center of a spiritual awakening. He studied subconscious visions and eventually experienced a "lucid dream" while at a chess event in Lone Pine, Calif. Three men in the dream told him they would provide him with spiritual guidance as well as teach him about the physical reality in which humans live, ancient languages and how to survive natural disasters. Waterman has written extensively about his meetings with the men in an online series entitled, "Knowledge from the Ancient Cave."
With his focus straying from chess, Waterman quit playing professionally in 1975 and returned to the Oregon forest to work as a logger. But a prominent U.S. businessman had read a profile of Waterman in the Los Angeles Times and decided to track down the chess whiz.
It took almost a year for the magnate to locate him tucked away in the woods without a phone or any connection to the outside world. When he finally did reach Waterman, the businessman offered him a membership with the Chicago Board of Trade, $2 million in wages, a $10 million line of credit and a regular job. Waterman accepted the opportunity and worked as a corporate troubleshooter in Chicago before relocating to New York for work in finance.
By that time, he had turned to backgammon as his game of choice, but managed to fit in some poker tournament play on the side. Eventually he quit business altogether and dumped backgammon as well. His new career was as a professional poker player.
Though he had played poker for years, the public didn't start taking notice of Waterman until 1998 when he began popping up at tournament events. Already a poker natural, he eased into the scene, varying his tournament play with Deuce-to-Seven Lowball, Seven-Card Stud, Razz, No-Limit Hold'em and Omaha Hi-Lo events. Waterman - whose spirituality eventually earned him the nickname "The Swami," a name given to teachers of Hindu religion - started winning minor tournament events and chalked up final table appearances.
In 2002, he made his first notable tournament win: a first-place finish at the L.A. Poker Classic in Pot-Limit Hold'em. Waterman upped his event appearances that year and forced competitors to make room for him at two World Series of Poker final tables. That year, he took fifth in the $1,500 Pot-Limit Hold'em event and eighth in the $3,000 Pot-Limit Hold'em event. One of his biggest career cashes also came in 2002 at the Bellagio Five Diamond Poker Classic No-Limit Hold'em table, where Waterman scooped more than $100,000 for his efforts.
He wouldn't best that amount until the 2005 Legends of Poker event in L.A. The game was No-Limit Hold'em, and Waterman earned nearly $120,000 for his play. In addition to occasional World Poker Tour appearances, Waterman also appeared in Season 2 of the Professional Poker Tour.
By his account, Waterman has won more than 180 poker tournaments since he first started playing 40 years ago. He is a regular at the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles, and often finds success in super-satellite events. The super-satellite style of play has become so familiar to him that he has said he is considering writing a book on the subject.
Waterman is also the author of several published articles and books. His topics are broad, covering science fiction, chess, spiritual teachings, meditation and, naturally, poker.
- Was a chess master, strong backgammon player and has won more than 180 poker tournaments
- Also works as a writer and teaches Buddhism, metaphysics and meditation
- Won the 2005 No-Limit Hold'em Legends of Poker event
- Owns a logging company