One of poker's original "Young Guns," Erick Lindgren is now part of a player faction settling into adulthood at the tournament tables. After nearly 10 years as a successful professional player, Erick Lindgren is a poker veteran and one of the most recognizable names in the game.
Born on Aug. 11, 1976, Lindgren grew up in the 3,000-person mountain town of Burney, Calif., where his father owned a tire shop. He was one of three boys, all with wildly competitive streaks and passion for channeling that energy into athletics.
Lindgren played every sport possible in his small town, competing in basketball, football and baseball, and daydreamed of someday playing in the NFL or NBA. By the time college rolled around, however, it was clear physical limitations would prevent him from realizing his dreams on either the gridiron or the hardwood.
So, putting his athletic aspirations on hold, he enrolled in classes at Butte Junior College, not far from his hometown. It wasn't long before he'd discovered the Colusa Indian Casino, only a short drive from the campus.
The casino was where Erick Lindgren did his real learning. Though he'd played the odd hand of poker with his friends growing up, 19-year-old Lindgren learned Texas Hold'em for the first time while working for the casino as a blackjack dealer. The competitive edge of the game served as a new outlet for his aggressive nature and intellect.
Eventually, Lindgren was devoting less time to schoolwork and spending more time competing in small-stakes casino games. The pastime was so lucrative Lindgren dropped out of college to play poker without completing his degree. Fearing disapproval from his parents, he kept his new profession under wraps at first, though it wouldn't stay a secret for long; Lindgren was good at poker - really good.
Erick Lindgren, one of the original "Young Guns"
At the age of 21, Erick took a job working as a proposition player at a San Pablo, Calif., casino. To supplement his prop play earnings, Lindgren filled his tiny apartment with three computers and competed in up to eight games at a time on different poker sites, sometimes playing for 30 consecutive hours.
The work and online action boosted his game to a new level. Lindgren took up tournament play, favoring a loose and aggressive style that would become his trademark. It was during this time he was given the nickname "E-dog" by a regular at the casino who would say, "You got me this time, you dog!" after losing a hand to Lindgren. The name stuck, and Lindgren still uses it today when playing online poker at his sponsor site, Full Tilt Poker.
After playing full-time for nearly five years, Lindgren finally decided to pack up and move to Las Vegas in 2002. The year would mark his breakout onto the professional poker scene, when he won the main event of the Bellagio Five Diamond Poker Classic and pocketed nearly $230,000. He followed up the win in 2003 by claiming the World Poker Tour UltimateBet.com Poker Classic II in Palm Beach.
Erick Lindgren's hallmark year came in 2004, which he kicked off by taking out friend Daniel Negreanu in heads-up play to win the PartyPoker.com Million III Limit Hold'em Cruise. The win would not only augment his bank account but put him in prime position to take down the WPT Player of the Year award for 2004.
The following year further served to plump Lindgren's bankroll with multiple six-figure tournament cashes, including a first-place win at the Professional Poker Tour No-Limit Hold'em event at the L.A. Poker Classic.
In 2006, Lindgren built a commanding lead out of the gates by taking third in the WPT No-Limit Hold'em Championship at the Borgata Winter Open and following that up with a first-place finish at the Five Star World Poker Classic. In June 2006, he beat out some his top-ranked peers at Full Tilt Poker's Pro Showdown for a $600,000 payday. His best WSOP finish - second in the $5,000 Short-Handed No-Limit Hold'em event - also came that year.
Still single and living in Las Vegas, Lindgren counts poker peers Daniel Negreanu and Gavin Smith among his good friends.
"He is an extremely good-natured and generous person who's always up for anything," writes Negreanu of Lindgren in a foreword to his 2005 book, Making the Final Table. "We have endured many of the ups and downs of living the poker life through our 20s, but we are able to keep each other grounded. Of course, we still know how to celebrate when all of the hard work pays off with a tournament win."
There's no doubt that Lindgren knows how to have a good time with his friends. He says he doesn't spend money on much other than gambling, but admits to celebratory five-figure bar tabs and a bachelor pad that includes six plasma televisions, a 65-inch screen and two dual monitors for watching sports.
And, in a throwback to his days as a kid in rural California, Erick Lindgren still gets his kicks from playing sports when he takes a break from the poker table. But things have changed since then. This time around he's making $50,000 bets on whether he can slam dunk.