Back in a former life, Pratyush Buddiga was mild-mannered young scholar, spending every available moment swatting up for the Scripps Spelling Bee. It worked. In 2002, with the sponsorship of the Rocky Mountain News of Denver behind him, Buddiga swooped to take the crown sought by the parents of every prodigy the world over.
However if anyone had been blessed in those days with sufficient prospicience*, they would have seen a future neither as a librarian nor crossword setter for Buddiga, rather as a balla poker player. These days he’s the kind of guy who rocks up on the penultimate day of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in shorts and a shiny black jacket, hooks green-rimmed spectacles on the neck of his T-shirt and casually chews gum through an interview with a Sarah Herring as if she’s Sandra Dee to his Danny Zuko.
Fair enough. With more than $3.2 million in live tournament winnings over the past three years, Buddiga is making a real name for himself in this new environment. He is on a heater over the past few months too, having picked up more than $800,000 from a tournament in Macau in November, followed by another $500,000+ in Vegas a month later.
Herring wanted to know this afternoon whether Buddiga is, as his friend Sam Grafton had claimed, getting close to Mike McDonald levels of confidence these days. And also, since she had him in front of the camera again, whether Buddiga could still spell like a badass.
She started him off with one of the players at his table, whose name would likely send most Scabble players into meltdown…
*I hope at least one person understands this reference, or tries to find out its meaning.
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