Michael Cannon is no stranger to competition.
The 29-year-old Lower Paxton Township resident first made a name for himself as a member of the elite esports team Infinity. Going by the handle “geNet1x,” he won 5 Major League Gaming tournaments with the game “Gears of War.” But now he’s trading the video game controller for a deck of cards.
Cannon is one the competitors in the domestic finals for the World Series of Poker, a pool that’s been whittled down from 705 to just 9. If he wins, he could walk away with $1 million.
The tournament will go down at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on Dec. 28. With a $10,000 buy-in, this competition isn’t for the faint of heart or those likely to cave under pressure.
Cannon is neither.
That’s despite the fact he isn’t the favorite in the tournament, where he only has 4.4 million chips compared to leader Joseph “kolebear” Hebert’s 13 million. But Cannon knows that things can change and he’s done the research necessary to up his game.
He’s been studying Hebert specifically. Since the first half of the tournament was done online, he’s been able to go back and look at the hands his competitors have been dealt before. He played Hebert a lot in that first portion, so he’s been studying his game.
Cannon also has friends who have played World Series of Poker before and given him tips on how to prepare.
If he wins, it’ll be a game changer. Even though Cannon started playing poker for fun when he was in 6th grade, he’s always been at the amateur level. To emerge from that into becoming a world champion? That’d be “pretty unexpected,” in his words. But he’s confident none-the-less.
One thing he isn’t worried about is handling the pressure. That’s where his career as an esports gamer comes into play.
Both esports and poker are fierce competitions with people who spend a lot of time and effort — making it hard to stay on top, Cannon said. He just needs to channel that experience into his poker playing and keep focused on the prize.
“It comes down to poker at the end of the day, and I’m really confident in my game at this moment,” he said.
You can follow Cannon’s progress in the tournament on pokernews.com. ESPN will also be taping the tournament, but it won’t air until February.