Andy Bloch's curriculum vitae ranks among those of the most academically accomplished poker pros.
Though best known for his Texas Hold'em talents, Bloch holds two degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Law degree from Harvard University.
Despite his fame as a member of the MIT blackjack team, Andy quickly established himself as a force to be reckoned with when he began to play poker seriously. He has had three major tournament victories and thirty major tournament in the money finishes. In total, he has earned more than $2 miilion in tournament poker winnings.
Andy has worked as a computer chip designer and a stock trader, and was once a member of the crew on a yacht that sailed from New York to St. Petersburg, Russia. He is an expert in game theory, and is the reigning World Champion of Roshambo - better known as rock, paper, scissors.
Andy describes his entry into poker this way: "I started playing poker before I was part of the MIT team and over time I gradually increased the stakes I played. I was thinking about moving on from poker, then the World Poker Tour came along and I decided to give it a shot. Since then, I've made two televised finals and five other money finishes."
Andy Bloch: MIT Team member and World Champion
Interestingly enough, Andy got into professional gambling in between attending MIT and Harvard Law School.
"I was playing with the MIT blackjack team on weekends and working designing computer chips during the week and getting bored," he says. "When the project I was working on got canceled, I decided to quit and play some poker and blackjack while I looked for something else. I didn't plan for gambling to be a long term career, so my parents weren't too worried although they didn't know what to tell their friends. Then I decided to go to law school (paying my way through by playing blackjack), and my parents were proud and happy. But after law school and passing the bar I didn't take a law job and went back to gambling. Fortunately, the WPT and ESPN elevated the public perception of poker players and I'm now a minor celebrity. I think they enjoy it when their friends tell them they keep seeing me on TV."
Bloch describes his playing style as a mix of instincts and mathematics. "My instincts will tell me when my opponent may be weak or strong, whether a bluff or value bet might work, and I will incorporate those possibilities into calculating the best play," he says. "This approach works for any poker game, whereas a player who plays on feel alone will generally need to gain a lot of experience before mastering a new game."
He's also not short on opinions of what it takes to be a top notch poker player. "To be a "world class" poker player, you need intelligence and self-control combined with a willingness to gamble," he says.
"Self-control is a little less important for tournament players than cash game players, because in tournaments, if you start to lose your self control, the most you can lose is your buy-in and, aggressive, even reckless play is often a good strategy in tournaments, whereas it will make you go broke playing cash games."