ClubWPT Choctaw Qualifier is Ivy League Educated
Eric Zbikowski is one of many who won a free buy-in to a World Poker Tour event simply by crushing it on ClubWPT. The 51-year-old who resides in Washington D.C. just might be the smartest player in the field at Choctaw Casino's $2 million guaranteed WPT Main Tour event.
Zbikowski told PokerNews he graduated Cum laude from The Wharton School, a distinguished academic achievement at a famed business college within the Ivy League's University of Pennsylvania.
Tesla founder Elon Musk, former US President Donald Trump, and billionaire investor Warren Buffett are among the notable Wharton School alumni.
He isn't married and doesn't have kids, and he is a chief revenue officer at a consulting company. Zbikowski has lived in the D.C. area since 1998, but is originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Most of his family lives in Florida.
Long-Time Poker Player
At age 15, he first took up the game of poker and has played it ever since recreationally. In February 2021, he made what turned out to be a wise decision when he joined ClubWPT.
"Close friends inspired me to start playing more seriously because it brings me such joy," he said of why he became a ClubWPT member.
On ClubWPT, poker players have a shot to win free entries, along with travel expenses, to live World Poker Tour events around the world. Via a qualifier, Zbikowsi earned a seat into the $3,800 buy-in Main Tour event at Choctaw Casino in Durant, Oklahoma.
He chose to use that tournament ticket to enter Day 1b of the multi-flight session, which kicked off at noon PT on Saturday. The first starting flight ran on Friday, the day the qualifier arrived in Southern Oklahoma.
Zbikowski was excited to participate in a major poker tournament, but winning money isn't the only thing he's expecting.
"I am looking forward to the new experience of a high buy-in, all-expense-paid, live tourney in a place I’ve never been," the ClubWPT qualifier said. "It will also be cool to meet Vince Van Patten and Tony Dunst because I see them on TV all the time."
Dunst isn't in attendance at Choctaw this weekend but his television partner, Van Patten, is on-site mingling with the players. Zbikowski is a fan of the WPT duo and said he enjoyed watching "7 Days to Vegas," a gambling movie starring Van Patten released in 2019.
At the time of publishing, on the second break of Day 1b, Zbikowski's stack had dipped a bit below the 50,000-chip starting stack size. But the goal of Day 1 is to survive and advance. Thus far, he's hung in there against a field that includes some of the best players in the world, including Chance Kornuth and Anthony Zinno.