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Polling guru among leaders on Day 5 of WSOP Main Event

The section on poker in Nate Silver’s upcoming book about gambling and risk is already written.

He may have more to add thanks to his current experience in the World Series of Poker Main Event.

The political polling analyst and founder of the data-based website FiveThirtyEight had a healthy chip stack Tuesday on Day 5 of the $10,000 buy-in No-limit Hold’em World Championship.

The tournament continues Wednesday at Horseshoe Las Vegas, as a little more than 200 players remained in the running at the 7 p.m. dinner break for the $12.1 million first prize.

“I think I have different ingredients to help somebody go far in this event,” Silver said. “This is kind of the outer end of my comfort zone. Day 7, you’re playing for insane amounts of money, but currently I feel pretty comfortable.”

Silver rose to prominence during the 2008 presidential primaries and general election thanks to his accurate projections. He correctly called all 50 states in the 2012 presidential race.

Before that, Silver was a professional online poker player until the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 helped shut down online poker in the U.S.

Silver returned to the live felt in 2019 and accumulated almost $700,000 in career tournament earnings before this Main Event run, according to the Hendon Mob Poker Database.

In 2021, he finished second in the WSOP $10,000 buy-in Limit Hold’em Championship for a career-best cash of $151,842 and was the runner-up at the 2022 PokerGO Tour Poker Masters $10,000 No-limit Hold’em event for $140,600.

That success has led to him being recognized more often at the tables.

“I kind of have like a little mini nerd celebrity,” Silver said. “I just get along with poker players really well. We think about the world similarly. Very different way of thinking about it than the New York, Washington politics scene. It’s just where I feel like I fit in.”

This summer, Silver has five cashes at the WSOP and made deep runs in the $1,500 “Monster Stack” No-limit Hold’em and the $10,000 Secret Bounty No-Limit Hold’em events before finishing 32nd in both.

Silver slowly accumulated chips during the first three days of the Main Event but won a massive pot Monday after the dinner break in a set-over-set situation to jump up the leaderboard. He continued to spin up his stack during the first two levels Tuesday.

“Usually poker is very math driven,” Silver said. “But in an event like this, it’s a psychological game more than a math game.”

Silver said he has traveled to Las Vegas a dozen times in the past 2½ years researching his book “On the Edge: How Successful Gamblers Think and What It Tells Us About Navigating Risk.”

The city figures prominently in the book, which covers sports betting and veers into financial markets, cryptocurrency and existential risk such as artificial intelligence.

“I’ve done almost all the reporting,” he said. “I just need time once this is over, go home and spend the summer writing.”

Silver exited in May as editor-in-chief of FiveThirtyEight, which is owned by ABC News, giving him more time to focus on poker and his book.

With the 2024 elections on the horizon, Silver said he has had conversations about bringing his models to a new media outlet.

“I’ve been talking to lots of folks about partnerships and so forth,” Silver said. “The good thing about poker is it’s a very immersive experience, and I try not to think beyond this event too much.”

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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