News / USA

Dang Brothers Win Online Poker in Spades

Urindanger, the screen name for Di Dang, is seen on the left during an online poker game. Di and his brother Hac are professional poker players and have won millions.Urindanger, the screen name for Di Dang, is seen on the left during an online poker game. Di and his brother Hac are professional poker players and have won millions.
x
Urindanger, the screen name for Di Dang, is seen on the left during an online poker game. Di and his brother Hac are professional poker players and have won millions.
Urindanger, the screen name for Di Dang, is seen on the left during an online poker game. Di and his brother Hac are professional poker players and have won millions.
The thought of betting one’s lifetime savings on one hand of cards would be terrifying to most, but for the Dang brothers, gambling hundreds of thousands, even millions, of dollars playing online poker is just another day on the job.

Di (top) and Hac Dang have won millions of dollars playing online poker.Di (top) and Hac Dang have won millions of dollars playing online poker.
x
Di (top) and Hac Dang have won millions of dollars playing online poker.
Di (top) and Hac Dang have won millions of dollars playing online poker.
The “grind,” as they call it, has been very good to Di and Hac, with some estimating their total winnings at over $15 million since 2004.

“It isn’t really gambling. It was more of a grind,” said Di, who is 28 and the older of the two by a year. “It was very strategic and numbers based. We’re gamblers like people who invest in real estate or the stock market. They buy a ton and win 55 to 60 percent of the time. In the long run, the wins make up for the losses and more. We win 55 to 60 percent of our sessions.”

The two Vietnamese-Americans started playing online poker while engineering students at the University of Virginia (U.Va.). At first it was small bets, but they soon realized they could do pretty well.

They say their timing could not have been better. When they started, online poker was fairly new, the economy was doing well, and there were a lot of “fish,” a poker term for someone who really doesn’t know how to play but is eager to risk money. 

“We didn’t know what we were doing,” said Di, who goes by the handle “urindanger” online.  “We have a strong math background, we’re very competitive, and we like strategy. We just chose to play poker in our free time.”

They initially started by opening an account with $200, which they soon lost. They decided to try another $200, and they “never looked back,” said Hac, whose handle is “trex313” in the online gambling world.

Their competitiveness against each other helped spur them on.

“We were making $10 an hour playing online poker. [Di] started making $15, so I decided I had to get better, and it just kind of snowballed from there,” said Hac.

And while competitive, the brothers, who are celebrities in the online poker world, pool all their winnings, which they say allows them to play for bigger stakes.

Working together, the two were making more than any of their classmates who were doing regular college jobs like waiting tables, and the winnings began to pile up. They found themselves with over $100,000 in the bank. During one spring break from school, they won $40,000, and their winnings soon hit $500,000.

The two freely admit the poker interfered with their studies. It took Di five years instead of four to graduate, and Hac nearly failed a course he needed to graduate on time. 

Buying in

The brothers say Chinese New Year was a major contributor to their love of gambling.

“If Chinese New Year didn’t exist, I don’t think Asians would be that much into gambling,” said Hac. “When we were kids, we’d learn blackjack, betting quarters and dollars, and if I won a couple of bucks, I’d be ridiculously happy. Without it, it’s 50 percent less likely that we’d become professional poker players.”

Despite learning gambling in a family environment, the brothers’ parents, who immigrated to the United States from Vietnam in 1975, were not supportive of their decision to turn poker into a profession.

“In most Asian families, you have that one uncle who lost all his money playing blackjack or lotto tickets,” said Hac. “When my parents heard we were at U.Va. playing poker with all our free time, my dad said, ‘I didn’t send you to U.Va. to play poker. I sent you to get a degree and get a job and do well. I don’t want you wasting my money to become a gambler. You can do that without a degree.’”

Their dad went so far as to forbid them from playing in the house, so they’d go to Korean PC cafes in the area to play.

The extended family was not thrilled either.

Shortly before graduating college, the brothers went to a family gathering where they were peppered with questions about what they were going to do after graduation. When they said they were going to pursue gambling, some thought they weren’t making a good choice.

But eventually their parents and family came around, probably helped by the fact that Hac and Di are pretty good at what they do. The brothers bought their parents a house in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC, and bought another one for their grandparents.

The cashflow from poker also allowed their father to leave his government job years before he was due to retire.

“It was good to give them a break because they worked so hard to get us where we are,” said Di.

Folding?

While the two have had a great run with online poker, there are signs they may be looking to walk away.

A major factor is that gambling on the Internet is increasingly illegal in the U.S. In 2006, Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which placed severe restrictions on online gaming. In April 2011, the government shut down three of the top online poker sites in the world.

This forced the brothers to establish residency in Vancouver, Canada, where Hac goes from time to time to play online. Di also makes trips to to the Asian gambling hub of Macau, and both regularly visit Las Vegas.

The sluggish economy has also made the really big pots increasingly rare, the brothers said. Furthermore, as the game has matured, a lot of the “fish” have been weeded out, leaving only very skilled gamblers at the table and making it more difficult to win big.

“Those million-dollar days aren’t around as much anymore,” said Di.

This is an actual online poker game played by Di Dang with a pot worth over $588,000.

Di added that over the long term, the grind is unhealthy.

“It’s too stressful,” he said. “The losing days hurt too much and the winning days are like a high. It’s a rollercoaster.” 

Di says he made $1.1 million on his best day playing poker, but lost $900,000 on his worst day. Hac says he’s lost “seven figures” in a day.

“If you play big enough, you get a charge. As long as there are interesting games, I’ll still play, but I don’t know that I’ll be doing this for the next 50 years,” said Hac, adding that he’s scaled back to playing “about 80 hours” of online poker this year, partly because he's on a losing streak.

The two currently are testing the waters as restaurateurs in Virginia, which Di says some consider a bigger gamble than poker.

“In restaurants, you need to count the pennies,” said Di. “With poker, you click one button, and you’re $700,000 richer. It’s two totally different games.”

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: JR from: Brazil
July 03, 2012 8:26 PM
That's the only notice about happiness on glamber I've ever heard. Generally what you see is very regretable ones that means a lot of people to lose out all what they had and getting their life family in the real hell. A hint for the brothers: do not abuse of the luck.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More