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Episode 690: All In

Friends congratulate Jake Balsiger during the World Series of Poker Final Table event in 2012.
Julie Jacobson
/
AP

This episode originally ran in 2016.

At professional poker tournaments, players pay thousands of dollars to enter the competition. By the end of it, nearly all will have lost that initial investment. But that's just the surface level. Beneath that is a secret world of betting and swapping.

Today on the show, we talk to a professional poker player who lost on the first day of a major tournament but still took home the biggest payout of his life. And we have an update on how his strategy has paid off over time.

Music: "My Life With You" and "Pacifica."

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Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Stacey Vanek Smith is the co-host of NPR's The Indicator from Planet Money. She's also a correspondent for Planet Money, where she covers business and economics. In this role, Smith has followed economic stories down the muddy back roads of Oklahoma to buy 100 barrels of oil; she's traveled to Pune, India, to track down the man who pitched the country's dramatic currency devaluation to the prime minister; and she's spoken with a North Korean woman who made a small fortune smuggling artificial sweetener in from China.
Keith Romer has been a contributing reporter for Planet Money since 2015. He has reported stories on risk-pooling among poker players, whether it's legal to write a spin-off of the children's book Goodnight Moon and the time one man cornered the American market in onions. Sometimes on the show, he sings.