Before the $25,000 World Series of Poker (WSOP) H.O.R.S.E event started, oddsmakers would have considered Pennsylvania businessman Jesse Klein a long shot. Klein ended up winning first place, a gold bracelet, and $552,182. He outlasted some of the best on the felt. This included previous bracelet winners Ben Yu, David Benyamine, Benny Glaser, and the legendary Phil Hellmuth.
Klein is known mostly as a cash player in the Pennsylvania area. He decided to pony up the $25,000 and head to Vegas to take a shot against the best of the best. Between work and family, his schedule was tight but he decided to take a short trip to Sin City.
“With the business and having two young kids at home, it has been difficult to find the time to get away and play,” Klein says.“When I saw the schedule come out, I knew this was an event that I would want to play. I thought the time would be perfect as I could fly out on Thursday and be back on Sunday.”
Jesse Klein’s road from PA to WSOP gold
Jesse Klein grew up in Bucks County, outside Philadelphia. He currently owns “Klein Hersh” which is an executive search firm that builds biotech and healthcare companies. Since 2009, Klein has built a highly specialized search firm. It has been a key part of the ecosystem in helping biotech and healthcare partners to attract and hire world-class talent. When he finds free time, he likes to jump onto the felt.
“I have been playing cards since I was little.” He goes on to say, “ I always loved cards and various games of chance.”
The road to winning a high roller WSOP bracelet event started at the low limits of $2/4 in college. Klein went to USF in Tampa, Florida and started playing in stud games with retired guys. A few years after he graduated college he moved to New York City. Klein cut his teeth and started playing in the underground poker clubs in NYC. He grinded his way up from the lower stakes and his confidence grew.
A few years later, he left NYC and moved back to the Philadelphia area.
“I started frequenting the Borgata which had an incredible $150/$300 O/E game,” Klein says.“We also started a similar game at the Parx in Philadelphia around 2010, which became a regular game going a few nights a week.”
A dream come true
Going into the high roller tournament, the Pennsylvania mixed-game grinder had very little tournament experience. Klein mostly considers himself a cash player but that may change after experiencing this major win.
“The feeling of winning a tournament like this is surreal. It feels a lot better than I ever thought it would.” He added: “A tournament win provides external validation which is a nice feeling in a game like this.”
Klein plans on playing some other high roller H.O.R.S.E poker tournaments in the future but for the time being, the Pennsylvania businessman is just content with his accomplishments so far.
“This has all been such an incredible feeling,” he says. “I always thought and dreamed about winning a big tournament, and now that I have, I think the feeling is better than what I could have imagined. Very happy and appreciative for all of it.”
Lead image c/o PokerGO.