Phil Gordon learned to play poker from his Aunt Lib. He says: "My sister and I would visit her house in Columbia, South Carolina every summer for literally months on end. Almost every night, we'd gather around the kitchen table to play penny-ante Five-Card Draw."
At 15, he entered college with a National Merit Scholarship and at 20 he graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a degree in computer science. Because he had dropped out of high school to attend college, his mother called him a "genius juvenile delinquent." After graduation, Phil worked for two years with Lockheed and afterwards joined Netsys Technologies, Inc. as its lead software engineer and first employee. When Cisco systems purchased Netsys three years later, they paid $95 million in stock and cash.
Phil took his cut of the dough and went on a prolonged, 'round-the-world' journey. In South America, he built a balsa raft and floated upon it along the Amazon River. In Uganda, he tracked gorillas. In Australia, he judged a wet t-shirt contest. Lively accounts of his adventures can be found on www.philgordonpoker.com.
Phil Gordon: A real celebrity
Phil made a splash in the poker world when he finished fourth in the 2001 World Series of Poker championship event, winning $400,000. In 2002 he had two final table finishes, 6th in Pot-Limit Hold'em and 3rd in Omaha Eight-or-Better. UltimateBet.com subsequently invited him to play in the World Poker Tour's first tournament in Aruba, where he beat seven of the world's top players to win the $250,000 first place prize. During 2003, Phil was the analyst for Binion Horseshoe's live Internet broadcast of the championship event of the WSOP and he gave daily reports on Sporting News Radio's Murray in the Morning show. March 2004 found Phil winning the World Poker Tour's Bay 101 Shooting Stars tournament for a cool $360,000.
It was at Bay 101 that Phil and his group of fun-loving friends, known as the "Tiltboys," showed up at a ladies-only poker event dressed in drag. Phil went by the name Phyllis and he wore a lovely dress, Lancôme makeup, stockings and pumps. The "Tiltgirls" were cheered by the crowd; one patron did advise them not to say "I'm holding the nuts." At the end of the tournament, its director Matt Savage announced that at future women’s tournaments "panty checks" would be conducted.
Phil's further exploits have been reported on in Cigar Aficionado, National Public Radio's "This American Life," Smithsonian Magazine, CNBC's "Squawk Box," Card Player Magazine, as well as in many other magazines and even in an episode of "Blind Date!" As host of television's "Celebrity Poker Showdown," he has himself become a celebrity.