Greg Raymer

Forgive Greg Raymer, if you can, for his poor choice in eyewear.

He still has plenty of redeeming qualities, not the least of which is a World Series of Poker Championship title, a decade-long sponsorship deal with PokerStars (recently ended), graduate degrees in biochemistry and law and a white-picket-fence family life in North Carolina.

And though he may seem an unlikely candidate to become a world-class gambler, as it happens Raymer is perfectly suited to the roving lifestyle of the professional poker player.

Air Force Kid, Blackjack Card Counter

An Air Force child, Raymer was born in 1964 in Minot, North Dakota. A few months later, his father retired from the military and moved the family to his home state of Michigan.

They made a home in the town of Lansing until Raymer was 11 years old and then packed up and headed for Clearwater, Fla. After a spell there, the clan headed to Manchester, Mo., where they settled down enough for Raymer to attend Parkway South High School.

Greg "Fossilman" Raymer

After finally putting down roots, the science-loving student opted to enrol in the University of Missouri where he earned a bachelor's in chemistry. He traveled to the University of Minnesota to compliment his education with a master's in biochemistry and a law degree.

It was during grad school he first tried his hand at poker in nickel-and-dime games with his frat buddies. At the time, his poker knowledge was still limited and Raymer didn't feel the need to advance beyond the peanuts home games.

He did take up card counting though, and proceeded to make a quick buck by playing blackjack in nearby Indian casinos.

Though he had the initial makings of a career student, Raymer eventually found work as a patent lawyer in Chicago. He spent three years with the firm, but disliked the litigation field and took a new job in San Diego as a biotechnology patent preparation and prosecution attorney.

Pharma Rep, Foxwoods Regular

While in Chicago, Raymer took to the casinos in search of a beatable blackjack game. Finding none, he sat in on a hand of poker, and enjoyed it so much he became a regular at the $3/$6 games.

Raymer stayed at that level until he moved to California. He continued with small-stakes play for a while, but after building his confidence with a couple of poker guides, Raymer graduated to $10/$20 and $20/$40 action.

By that time, the gruelling attorney's schedule was wearing on Raymer; he decided to once again pack up and head for a new job with a Connecticut-based pharmaceutical company in 1998.

The newfound free time allowed him to further advance his poker game and Raymer took his play to $150/$300 games and became a tournament regular at the Foxwoods Resort Casino.

Fossilman is Born

In April 2001, Raymer made his first cash at a World Series of Poker event: 12th place in the $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo Split Eight-or-Better. The following year, Raymer could be spotted in the bleachers as Robert Varkonyi claimed the WSOP Main Event.

In 2004, after winning a $160 satellite on PokerStars.com, Raymer would be in Varkonyi's seat. He made it to the final table with a significant chip advantage, easily lasting until he faced David Williams heads-up with a 2-1 chip lead.

Greg Raymer

In the final hand, Raymer picked up pocket eights, and the board brought him 5-4-2-2-2. He moved all-in, Williams called with an A-4 and Raymer was the champion.

At the time, the $5 million prize pool was the biggest in WSOP history. But Raymer only saw a fraction of that record-breaking haul; after paying his backers and taxes his winnings totalled $1.7 million.

For his victory, which many considered a long shot as Raymer was an amateur and relative newcomer, he received the instant celebrity status offered by the booming poker scene. It didn't hurt that Raymer presented a quirky image.

He donned his now-legendary reptile hologram sunglasses (purchased at Disneyland a month prior to the World Series) during play and topped his hole cards with fossils that he hawked at poker tournaments. It's for this practice that Raymer earned his nickname, "Fossilman."

Attempted Robbery Fails

Though his success came with perks - namely an endorsement deal from PokerStars - it also spelled trouble for Raymer not long after his WSOP win.

After playing at the Five Diamond Poker Classic in 2004, Raymer headed back to his hotel room at the Bellagio and was confronted by two men who tried to push him into his room.

Thinking the men would kill him because he had seen their faces, Raymer fought them off, and the would-be robbers ran away. The men were caught six months later in California and received robbery convictions.

Greg Raymer

Still, the experience wasn't enough to steer Raymer away from professional poker. He quit his job in Connecticut soon after winning the World Series and now keeps a modest tournament schedule while competing online.

The year after his big win, Raymer made his way back to the WSOP where he cashed in three events. Most notably, he earned a 25th-place finish in the $10,000 Main Event that scored him $304,680 and sixth place in the $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em event for $119,450.

At the 2006 series, Raymer raked in $93,124 for his fifth-place result in the $5,000 No-Limit 2-7 Draw Lowball.

Greg Raymer feuded with WPT, Matusow

Raymer didn't play too many tournaments going forward due in part to his lawsuit against World Poker Tour Enterprises. Raymer - along with Andy Bloch, Annie Duke, Phil Gordon, Howard Lederer, Joseph Hachem and Chris Ferguson - accused the WPT of eliminating competition and using the pros' names and images to sell products without consent or compensation.

The lawsuit triggered a heated public blog-off between Raymer and pro Daniel Negreanu, who had criticized the seven players on the Internet. Raymer fired back, calling Negreanu "a tool" in an online chat at PokerStars. After a series of fiery exchanges the two finally called a truce and apologized for their comments about one another.

Raymer also had a well-publicized a beef with Mike "The Mouth" Matusow. The grudge started in 2004 when Matusow publicly berated Raymer at a WSOP table. From there, the mutual distaste festered. "Basically, I don't like Mike, and don't yet have any evidence that my opinion is likely to change in the future," Raymer wrote in the frequently asked questions section of his personal Web site.

Those incidents aside, Raymer likes to keep a low profile, hanging out with his wife, Cheryl, and his daughter, Sophie, at their latest home in Raleigh, N.C. In his spare time Raymer golfs at the local course, antique hunts with his wife and enjoys music, comedy and public speaking.

In recent years Raymer has created his own unique staking packages where fans and investors can buy-in to all or part of his tournament schedule for the year. He's mostly stuck to smaller buy-in WSOP Circuit and Heartland Poker Tour events close to his home but has, of course, played the World Series of Poker in Vegas (including the Seniors Events) most years.

His career tournament earnings sit at around $7.7m.

Greg Raymer
PLAYER INFO
Current ResidenceStonington, CN, USA
BornNovember 30, 1963
Birth PlaceMinot, ND, USA
Total Winnings$7.809.216
PLAYER SCORE
0/10
Aggressiveness0
Looseness0
Limit0
No-limit0
Side Games0
Steam Control0
Against Strong Players0
Against Weak Players0
Tournaments0
Short-Handed0
PLAYER TRIVIA
  • Is the 2004 World Series of Poker Main Event champion
  • Collects fossils and uses them as card protectors
  • Has graduate degrees in biochemistry and law

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