TV chef asks “Who is that?” (you know who)

July 22, 2019inPoker

As members of the poker media, we’re used to seeing famous players pop up on our social media feeds. But what we saw this weekend was a little different.

While casually browsing through Instagram on a lazy Sunday afternoon, we stopped on a post from British “Instagram chef” Miguel Barclay, well known online for his One Pound Meals series of cookbooks. In the Instagram video, Barclay and his wife are trying out a London restaurant—Prix Fixe in bustling Soho–with him then showcasing the dishes to his more than 300,000 followers.

So far, so Instagram. But what happened next made us do a full-on double-take.

Mid-meal and mid-video, Barclay then turns his phone away from the dining table (and his cauliflower cheese entrée) and aims the camera across the busy street. It seemed a famous person was walking by, causing a hubbub amongst members of the public as he went.

“Whoa, everyone is queuing up to have their photo taken with this guy,” Barclay says. “Who is he? Who is that guy?”

Your first guess might be a Hollywood actor or a popular musician. But no.

‘That guy’ was none other than Tom “durrr” Dwan.

“Who is that guy?” asks Barclay

He’ll be familiar to you poker fans, no doubt. Dwan himself has more than 160,000 followers on a Twitter account he seldom uses. But Barclay was none the wiser. Scrolling through the comments on the video, it seems only one of his 306,000 followers recognised the mystery man attracting attention.

“He is Tom Dwan. Professional crazy poker player who was really popular back in Poker After Dark show during late 2000s,” wrote Instagram user @gadimbaylisahil.

If, like Barclay, you’re not sure of who Dwan is, here’s some backstory.

Dwan was undeniably a poker prodigy, turning a $50 online poker investment into a five-figure bankroll in a matter of weeks by playing sit and gos. He then quickly rose through the cash game ranks, climbing from the $1/$2 tables to the highest possible nosebleed stakes around, using a fearless, hyper-aggressive style that confused even the most talented regulars.

He was a legend in his early twenties, and now—as he approaches his 33rd birthday—his popularity clearly hasn’t diminished.

“Over the course of the last decade, Tom Dwan has emerged as not only one of the games’ more elusive players, but also one of its most bewildering,” wrote PokerStars Blog’s own Stephen Bartley two years ago. “To watch him is to be left scratching your head asking “how?”, while to imitate him is to find yourself drawing dead with just a high card. To take “durrr” on typically results in humiliation, the public kind, the kind that will live on forever in poker history.”

But this weekend, Dwan wasn’t dishing out public humiliation. He was receiving public adoration.

And here’s the strange thing: there wasn’t even a big poker event going on in London last weekend.

Dwan was simply going about his business, doing whatever he likes to do when in the big smoke, and his mere presence on London streets (no poker chips or other poker players in sight) was enough to cause a commotion strong enough that a well-known Instagram celebrity asked who he was.

It begs the question: is Tom Dwan more famous than we may have thought?

To us in the poker world, he’s a superstar. Whenever he turns up at a poker event—just like he did at the 2019 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas to play the $50,000 Players Championship—his arrival causes a ripple of excitement. But we wouldn’t have guessed he’d be unable to walk down a street—nowhere near a card game–without people clamouring for photos.

Tom Dwan at the 2019 WSOP

Then again, this ties in perfectly with the myth of Dwan.

While arguably poker’s greatest enigma Phil Ivey was recently in the mainstream news for his casino controversies, and again only a couple of months ago when he opted to reveal his poker secrets by releasing a Masterclass, we don’t really know anything about Dwan’s day-to-day life, other than:

  • He plays in the biggest cash games in the world
  • He spends a lot of time in Asia
  • His durrr challenge with Daniel “Jungleman” Cates remains unfinished
  • He’s married to Bianca (his Twitter bio links to her Instagram page)
  • He experienced his first earthquake this summer

Maybe it’s best that way. The less we know about him, the more his enigma grows.

Did he pose for the photos? If you were one of the people who spotted him on the street, let us know on Twitter at @PokerStarsBlog.

We do know one thing, though, thanks to Barclay’s video:

The food at Prix Fixe looks delicious.


WSOP photography by pokerphotoarchive.com

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