EAST (1st Place / Champion 2020 Fall Brawl)

Meet Ben Greenwell (OSUNutz) 22, Ohio State University

By Craig Tapscott

Ben will graduate with a degree in Actuarial Science from OSU next spring. He’s hoping that he can land a dream job in the sports betting or poker industries in Las Vegas. When he’s not buried in statistics and figures, Ben enjoys playing chess, basketball, sports betting, and hanging with friends.

During the summer of 2019, Ben discovered poker and never looked back. He’s made a few final tables online and at the local club. “I was bored and decided to buy into a tournament at Hollywood Casino in Columbus,” shares Greenwell. “My best advice to new players is to be patient, work on improving your game, and be sure to master bankroll management.”

One thing we know Ben won’t struggle with at the final table is the mathematics of the game. We would have to rate the probability of him making a deep run as a pretty good bet.

EAST (2nd Place)

Meet Vanessa Hernandez (Hernandezhh1) Midland College

By Erin Webster

Vanessa is a student at Midland College in Texas, and one of the final eight players vying for the World College Poker’s 2020 Fall Brawl championship title. Vanessa is a full-time mom and student by day and poker shark by night. She started playing poker like most college students, with friends and family for fun. After finding her competitive spirit, she fell in love with the game and continued winning against newer and bigger competition online. It was now time to further test her burgeoning skills, thus the entry into the Fall Brawl.

The Fall Brawl will be her ultimate test of luck and skill because it’s the first real tournament she’s competed in. “I can’t believe I made the final table. It’s very exciting,” said Vanessa. Much of her poker prowess has been gleaned from watching players on TV and following the World Series of Poker (WSOP). Though she

loves watching some of the players’ strategies and tricks, Vanessa admitted she’s the type of player who goes with her gut a lot of the time, depending on the situation.

Vanessa spends most of her days studying full-time at Midland as she pursues a career as a dentist. After graduation, she wants to move back to her hometown, Houston, with her family. World College Poker is betting her go-getter spirit and persistent attitude might just lead to a WSOP final table in the future. Only time will tell.

WEST (3rd Place)

Meet Ben Fisher (spartan1122) 35, Arizona State University

By Craig Tapscott

Ben is the elder statesman of the fall brawl final table if you want to call 35 years old an elder. He will graduate next year from Arizona State with a master’s degree in education with a focus on educational leadership.

Poker was something Ben’s enjoyed since his high school days at all-night poker parties. Ben eventually took his game online and to a few local casinos to test his luck and skills. He’s no newcomer to final tables and hopes his experience will be an advantage at the final table.

“Study and practice have always been my foundation when learning poker,” said Fisher. “When I first got into poker, I looked up to the stars I saw playing in the WSOP, mainly Phil Ivey. But now, while I watch and pay attention to some poker, my inspiration comes from my wife and my two kids.”

In his spare time away from studies, Ben enjoys watching his son play basketball and diving into the fantasy sports world. Poker is a fun side hobby that could possibly lead to Ben being crowned the World College Poker’s inaugural champion.

WEST (4th Place)

Meet Ryan Clark (rtc1755) 24, Sacramento State University

By Craig Tapscott

Ryan is a graduate student majoring in jazz performance at Sacramento State University. He started playing poker when he was 11 years old while watching the WSOP on ESPN with his father. He was instantly hooked.

“I’ve gained my inspiration from my dad,” said Ryan. “He was the first person in my life to teach me poker. As for poker players, you can’t go wrong with Phil Ivey as a main influence. And Ethan Yau (Rampage Poker) has also been very inspirational due to his own improvement and how he approaches the game.”

As a native of Hawaii, Ryan finds being relaxed at the poker table comes naturally. For fun, Ryan hangs out with good friends and enjoys writing music and going on occasional hiking adventures near the university. He doesn’t expect the final table to be a cakewalk, but you can bet he will be patient and pick his spots.

WEST (5th Place)

Meet Blake LaClaire (blaclaire23) 20, University of Arizona

By Craig Tapscott

Blake is a mathematics major at the University of Arizona and will graduate next spring. Blake started taking poker seriously during his junior year in high school. A love for poker had blossomed at the age of eight when his father was dealing at a local casino. “My inspiration for the game comes from my Dad,” says Blake. “Although he’s not a serious player anymore, he’s been the one who always encourages me to take chances at higher stakes and not to get frustrated when I go through downswings.”

Like any player eventually learns, the game brings ups and downs along the way that have to be weathered as an integral part of poker. “I would tell a new player to work on their mental game,” says Blake. “It’s important to not tilt at the table. Mastering your emotions is a huge challenge and something I still struggle with to this day. You have to be able to deal with the tough beats and not let that alter your play.”

The final table of World College Poker’s Fall Brawl is Blake’s first shot at a championship title of this magnitude. Tournament poker has taken a back seat over the last few years, as he has mostly concentrated on cash games since entering college.

When not studying and preparing for graduation, Blake enjoys bodybuilding, bowling, watching sports, and of course, playing poker. After graduation Blake plans to pursue a law degree. He’s not sure yet where that path will lead but is very excited for what the future holds.

WEST (6th Place)

Meet Chris Pagel (FoldsNuts) 21, The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

By Craig Tapscott

Chris Pagel took time out to play the fall brawl from first semester exams as he pursues a degree in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

During holiday gatherings Chris’s family would have fun playing card games. But he didn’t start to take the game seriously until he entered college. Since then, he has cashed at a World Series of Poker Circuit event, but the fall brawl will be his first final table experience. Poker was a challenge to Chris as he got deeper into the strategies of the game. “There is a drastic amount of complexity to the game that you can’t master overnight,” said Pagel. “It’s best to take the necessary steps to learn and grow as a poker player over time.”

Perhaps one day we will see Chris at a World Poker Tour final table as he’s considering playing in larger and more prestigious events. But for now, he looks forward to graduating and pursuing a job in the finance and banking industry.

EAST (7th Place)

Meet Jesse Kim (JesseKim7) 18, Montclair State University

By Erin Webster

Jesse is a freshman at Montclair State University majoring in Justice Studies. He may be new to the college scene, but he’s even newer to everything poker. Jesse watched a lot of live poker on TV and it piqued his interest to play and learn more about the game. Watching the superstars do battle on the felt, clearly left an impact on the freshman. Jesse is so enthralled with poker that he’s considering playing in the big leagues after recognizing his innate skills. “I’ve thought about pursuing a career as a professional after making the fall brawl final table,” said Kim.

Jesse’s learned a lot about poker strategy from superstar Daniel Negreanu, who is known for his ability to read his opponents. Jesse’s play style is heavily influenced by ‘Kid Poker.’ “I like watching Daniel because of how he reads people’s hands,” said Jesse. While this is Jesse’s first poker tournament, we have a strong feeling this definitely won’t be his last.

EAST (8th Place)

Meet John Pitts (jpitts10) 22, University of Tennessee at Knoxville

By Craig Tapscott

John will graduate from the University of Tennessee in the spring of 2021 with a degree in supply chain management. But like many students, John is unsure where his degree and life will lead after graduation. “I’m going to school for logistics,” said Pitts. “I don’t know what I want to do upon graduating. The ideal situation would be to find a company I can be proud of, one that has the same values as myself.”

Poker has become a big part of John’s life over the last two years. He discovered the game while hanging out with fraternity brothers watching sports and playing some casual poker games. From there, his interest grew and he began to look for other freeroll games around campus.

The World College Poker fall brawl is not his first final table, but it’s definitely the biggest one to date for the senior. “I’ve learned to relax and have fun with poker,” shares Pitts. “It’s a tough game to learn. I’m lucky to have found a community of friends and family who make playing the game fun.”

The game seems to have come easy for Pitts so far. He’s hoping that this final table will lead to his first major championship with more to follow.