David Berry, and the business end of the Super Tuesday
In many ways David Berry fits the mould of an ordinary, successful poker player.
Known as "Dmmberry" when playing on PokerStars from his home in Toronto, Berry uses poker to fill his free time. If not poker then its golf with his wife, or coaching his kids' soccer team. If not that then he unwinds at his ski cabin in Canmore, Alberta, high up in the Rocky Mountains.
It sounds idyllic, and it probably is. But then, Berry, who just turned 41, is a man with time on his hands. He lost his job a while back, a setback that affects a lot of people every year. But Berry's departure from his old job was a little different, because it set in motion what became the biggest individual lawsuit in Canadian history.
Back to poker for a second.
Berry won the Super Tuesday a few weeks ago, the weekly highlight for the best online players in the game. It was worth $59,598 to Berry who defeated fellow Canadian gilleschro heads-up to earn his biggest ever tournament win.
It was hardly a surprising win. In the poker sense Berry has the pedigree to match any of the event's usual winners, starting as a math major at university.
"I put myself through university and graduate school with student loans," he said. "I was $20,000 in debt coming out of school. I managed to talk my way into getting a research job a bank owned brokerage house. I then managed to talk my way into the preferred share trading desk."
Turn out Berry was pretty good at it. Actually he was the best.
"Within a year I was put in charge of the preferred share area. Within a year of that we had 70% of the market share."
The Toronto Life feature on Berry describes the job in great detail. Suffice to say that by making millions each year he became the bank's highest paid employee, at one point earning 20 per cent of the profits he made. Think of the top poker players, playing when they want, for high stakes, and being their own boss. This was Berry, albeit in the world of high finance, the star trader working his own hours. As he told Toronto Life:
"I came and went when I wanted. I was my own boss. No one infringed on my territory. What I said went. I ruled the industry. It was good for everybody."
Actually he got so successful that the bank decided to put a cap on it. As his counsel said at one of the hearings, Berry was successful "because he was willing to take more risks than his competitors."
That word "hearing" tips off what followed.
Berry prefers not to talk about it, not least because of a confidentiality clause, but two articles in particular tell the full story well. As he put it, the Toronto Life magazine had a "pretty good overview of the last ten years".
The short version though is that Berry, offered new terms to his contract that were less favourable than previous, refused to sign up. It was a moment that set in motion his departure from the bank under controversial terms which, as he put it, were settled literally on the court room steps last year.
It forced Berry into a sort of unemployed limbo. So he did what many competitive people do when denied their first choice pursuit, he found replacements. One of which was poker.
"The timing corresponds almost exactly to me leaving the bank."
All of which brought him to the business end of the Super Tuesday earlier this month, and the biggest prize pool event he'd ever played for. No confidentiality clause on this result, just a solid performance by a player who knows when to take the risks other players might not be prepared for.
"I'm very competitive and can get a bit impatient and emotional," he said. "I play best when I'm patient and don't let emotions enter into the mix."
He came close. Berry was clear that gilleschro, his heads up opponent, had his number. "He took most of my stack early on. When I moved tables I thought to myself that I would eventually see him again."
Berry is now clear of the lawsuits and ready to put what happened behind him.
"Things have settled," he said. "I have three beautiful kids that are happy to see things settled. I now invest my own capital within my investment company. I generally take an active role in my investments."
That left just one more question. Did he have plans to play any more poker?
"Absolutely," he replied.
Our congratulations and thanks to David Berry.
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Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog. Follow him on Twitter: @StephenBartley.