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

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    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.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora