Tom Dwan – From Grinding $5 SNGs to Playing for Millions in Macau
Tom Dwan, also known under his online nickname "durrrr," is a professional poker player who is considered one of the legends of the game.
Known for his fearless style of play, soul-reading staredowns, and emotionless facial expressions, Dwan became one of the most leading poker players from the moment the audience saw him on High Stakes poker.
Although there is no denying that many poker professionals these days caught up with Dwan in skill, almost none of them comes close to him in popularity.
Today we bring you the poker journey of Tom Dwan, including his rise to fame, Tom Dwan net worth, and the infamous "durrrr" challenge.
Tom Dwan Highlights
- Member of the legendary High Stakes poker cast
- Made enough money playing poker as a teenager to pay for college
- Regarded as one of the top online poker players in his prime
- Offered famous “durrrr” challenge
- Played one of the biggest pots in the history of televised poker ($2.35 million) against Paul Phua
Early Years and Introduction to Poker
Tom Dwan was born on July 30th, 1986, in Edison, New Jersey, and grew up in a middle-class family.
He attended Eddison High School, where he participated in different school programs. He spent most of his time playing sports such as football and tennis, but he was also a member of the school's Spanish and Math club.
Durrr's first started playing poker online with his friends. In the beginning, they were only playing Sit and Go tournaments for play money at an Empire Poker website. It didn't take long for him to get in love with the game, and one of the reasons was that he thought that poker would be an easy way to make some pocket money that he could spend while at college.
Tom Dwan poker career began on his 17th birthday when he received $50 as a birthday present. After some persuasion from his friends, he deposited this money onto the poker site Paradise Poker even though he was underage.
This is when he first used his now world-famous nickname "durrrr," which he chose to annoy his opponents at the table.
When he started playing poker, he wasn't particularly good at the game, but as he stated himself, everyone else was very bad.
After quickly rising through the stakes in Sit and Go's, Tom also started playing 1/2 No Limit Cash Games and eventually moved to PokerStars, where he played 2/4 and 3/6 No Limit.
Just one year later, he had over $15 thousand in his online account, and by the last year of high school, he had made enough money to finance his college degree.
He chose Boston University, where he continued playing poker with his roommates and online during his stay at college.
Unfortunately for his academic career, he was too successful in poker to stay concentrated on his classes, so he decided to leave Boston University after only one year to become a professional poker player.
Tom Dwan Professional Career
At the beginning of his professional poker career, Dawn was already playing and beating 40/80 No Limit and built a $35 000 bankroll, but the variance kicked in and left a $20 000 hole in his online account.
This forced him to go down in stakes to 5/10 No Limit Hold’em, which turned out to be the right decision as he regained most of his bankroll in just a few weeks.
He made enough money to buy a Texas house and moved in with another online poker player, David Banfield.
After grinding the stakes for a couple of years, he built a big enough bankroll to sit down with some of the biggest poker names at the time, including David Benjamin, Phil Ivey, and Patrick Antonius, and play stakes as high as 200/400.
Dawn was forced to play only online poker as he was still under 21 and couldn't play live cash games or tournaments. Because of the age limit, he missed the 2006 and 2007 World Serious of Poker.
Tom Dwan’s age was 21, when he showed off his live poker skills and won almost $1 million in live tournaments before his 22nd birthday. At this point in his poker career, he was already considered one of the best players in the world and a poker celebrity.
In 2007 he took 4th place in the $10 000 Buy-in World Poker Finals and took home over $324 000. He followed up this win with another big score at the 2008 Aussie Million, where he had a deep run-in multiple Texas Hold’em No Limit and Pot Limit Omaha events for a combined $112 000 payday.
After making deep runs in multiple other events, he finished the year $5 200 000 in the green.
“I'm just trying to get all the chips like everyone else.”
The “durrrr” Challenge
At the beginning of 2009, Tom Dwan announced The "durrrr" Challenge. He invited any poker player in the world, except his friend and poker professional Phil Galfond, to play 50 000 hands at four tables of 200/400 No Limit Hold’em or Pot Limit Omaha.
He offered to put $1 500 000 as a side bet against his opponent's $500 000. The winner would get to keep both the money won in the challenge and the money put as the side bet.
As he stated, he announced the challenge to create some action.
The challenge was welcomed with the delight of the poker community, and several poker players, including high stakes legends Partick Antonius, David Benjamin, Phil Ivey, and Daniel "Jungleman" Cates, applied to take on Dwan heads up.
As it would later turn out, this challenge never fulfilled its full potential and even damaged durrrr's image in the poker community.
When the rules of the challenge were made public, there was no mention of a time frame in which the challenge, namely the 50 000 hands, had to be completed. Later on, this would become the biggest subject of controversy in this challenge.
His first opponent was Antonius, who chose Pot Limit Omaha. After some 40 000 hands, Dwan took almost $2 million from Antonius, and they settled the challenge privately.
After beating Antonius, next in line was Daniel "Jungleman" Cates. The match started in 2010 after Cates took on Dwan in No Limit Hold’em. After 19 000 hands, Jungleman was beating durrrr for more than $1 million, and at this point, the match was stopped as Cates was having trouble getting Dwan to play.
The challenge was continued for a short period in 2013 when they played around 1500 hands, which resulted in Dwan losing $200 000.
To this day, the challenge was never finished and is considered a complete failure from the side of the poker community.
But what might come as a surprise is that Cates always publicly defended Dwan and said that durrrr had some private issues that he had to sort out and that the challenge would be completed someday. He also added that up to this point, Dwan paid more than $800 000 in fines for not being able to complete the challenge.
However, according to the online poker forum 2+2, where Cates answered some questions about the challenge, it seems that Dwan forfeited the challenge and that it will not be completed, as Jungleman stated in many of his interviews.
Tom Dwan Personal Life
Dwan tries to keep his personal life as private as possible. However, since we live in the age of social media, it is impossible to keep everything from the public eye.
Just like with poker, his private life was a target of speculation for a long time, and some even claimed that he was gay. However, these speculations were wrong, and if you google Tom Dwan wife, you can see that durrrr got married in 2018 to Bianca Rossi.
He is also known as a generous person who likes to buy expensive gifts for his friends and family. One time, he bought his mother a luxurious car and paid for her gas for the whole year.
Besides that, his efforts to keep his private life under the curtains are very efficient, so we don't know much about this side of his life.
Tom Dwan Net Worth and Poker Winnings
Because of his hyper-aggressive playstyle, Tom Dwan has some of the biggest upswings and downswings in poker history, winning and losing millions of dollars in short periods of time.
However, since Black Friday, when US authorities closed down Full Tilt poker, Dwan has been much more conservative with his money, resulting in the poker community speculating that Tom Dwan owes money and even that he was broke several times.
That said, according to multiple online sources, Tom Dwan net worth is well above $10 million. This number seems pretty realistic when we consider that he was a member of the Full Tilt Poker Pro team during the beginning of his poker career, a collaboration that saw Dwan earn anywhere from $500 000 to $1 million per year.
Also, for the last few years, Dwan was seen playing some very high stakes against Asian businessmen in Macau, which would not be possible if he didn't have millions in his account.
Where Is Tom Dwan Today?
In the last five years, durrrr has mostly been focused on live poker cash games and tournaments. He has been seen playing the Triton Series in Asia and nosebleeds games in Macau.
Per some reports, Dwan has been facing against businessmen in 4k/8k and 8k/16k No limit Hold’em. These stakes can result in some pretty sick pots. For example, in one of his interviews, Daniel Cates stated that he saw Dwan lose a $25 million pot in a set-over-set situation.
In 2020, Dwan accepted the invitation to be part of the new season of High Stakes poker streamed on PokerGO. This again put him into the spotlight, especially after the audience saw that he still plays the same hyper-aggressive poker style.
Where Was Tom Dwan in 2016?
In 2016, Dwan more or less took a break from the public eye and decided to spend most of his time in Montenegro, where one of his close friends owns a casino.
It is not known whether he traveled there to play private cash games or just to escape.
How Much Is Tom Dwan Worth?
The estimated net worth of Tom Dwan is somewhere north of $10 million.
But like with most poker players, this is a rough estimate since they don't publicly announce this information.
Does Tom Dwan Play Poker?
Dwan has increased his poker volume in the last couple of years regarding official events and televised poker games.
He can be regularly seen playing Triton tournaments, cash games, and on the popular TV Poker show High Stakes poker.
Who Is Tom Dwan Wife?
The name of Tom Dwan's wife is Bianca Rossi.
The couple got married in 2018 after being engaged for some time.
Has Tom Dwan Won a Bracelet?
Although he played 3 World Series of Poker Final Tables, up to this point in his poker career, Dwan still hasn't won a WSOP bracelet.