Poker is an awe-inspiring game. It’s long been one of the world’s most popular card and casino games for a few reasons. 

The game is played with real money. This element gives stakes to every match, making poker intense, thrilling, and a lucrative option for skilled players. 

Poker’s variety adds to its popularity. There are many forms of the game, so everyone can find a style of poker that suits them best. The many choices also keep things fresh for veteran players.

But poker’s most significant selling point is its strategic depth. There are endless choices and ways to play in every scenario. The game takes a lifetime to master. 

All of these factors contribute to the competitive nature of the game. Many years of the world’s best duking it out in high-stakes tournaments has produced many legendary moments, with the best players forever etching their mark in poker lore. One such influential is poker pro Cary Katz. 

Player Overview

Cary Katz is an American poker player and entrepreneur. He’s primarily known for his business ventures, founding immensely successful companies such as College Loan Corp. 

He’s also the founder of Poker Central, which operates PokerGO, a poker streaming service that significantly impacted the televising of modern-day competitive poker. 

Katz has even produced poker tournaments such as the US Poker Open, Super High Roller Bowl, and Poker Masters. 

He is, however, not just another wealthy businessman who plays poker as a side gig. With over $36 million in tournament earnings, Katz sits 12th on The Hendon Mob’s all-time money list. He’s a regular sight at High Roller tournaments and the World Series of Poker (WSOP). He’s had 58 cashes at the WSOP but has yet to secure a bracelet.

Early Life

Little is known about Katz’s early days beyond how he learned poker from his grandmother and that he graduated from the University of Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. 

In 1999, he founded College Loan Corp., and rapidly became one of the top student loan providers in the United States. At its peak, it was the seventh-largest student loan company, providing $19 billion in loans.

Already a multi-millionaire within a few years of running College Loan Corp, Katz used his earnings to build a sizable bankroll for one of his favorite hobbies: poker.

Poker Career

Katz’s first tournament cash was in the 2004 Festa al Lago II, Las Vegas, placing 24th for $10,381. From here, he made consistent five-figure money finishes for a few years, even trying his hand in the 2009 WSOP Main Event and earning $40,288 from the main event. 

In 2009, his career began to take off, with more appearances and results in mid-stakes Vegas tournaments. This escalation did not slow down. Katz earned his first six-figure score at the 2013 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) Super High Roller, finishing fourth in the $100,000 buy-in event for a staggering $543,800. It was more than ten times his previous record. 

Another six-figure win came in the 2013 WSOP when Katz took second place in the $5,000 Pot Limit Hold’em (Event #19) for $138,794. 

An even better year for Katz was 2014. In February, he had back-to-back wins at the Bellagio High Roller II and III in the same month. He took home a combined $384,150. In July, The Big One for One Drop (Event #57) at the WSOP gave Katz his first seven-figure score. Though he finished 8th, the astonishing million-dollar buy-in netted him $1,306,667. His reputation and earnings from poker spurred him to create Poker Central.

Poker Central

In 2015, Katz launched his new business venture Poker Central with backing from famous pros like Daniel Negreanu, Antonio Esfandiari, and Phil Hellmuth. 

It was the first poker channel on regular cable TV to broadcast poker content 24/7. The material ranged from past tournament broadcasts to original programs like Stories from the Felt. Unfortunately, the concept fell flat in this format and was decommissioned after only 14 months. 

Katz then converted it into a more efficient business model: the paid subscription. With the new name PokerGO, the cable channel became a browser and mobile app-based on-demand streaming service, serving as poker’s Netflix. 

It’s had further developments recently, featuring a video library of old classics like Poker After Dark and WSOP main event broadcasts. Beyond the old content, it offers live coverage of tournaments like the World Poker Tour and WSOP.

High Rollers Galore

Since his first in 2014, Katz has claimed seven more seven-figure scores.

He landed a fifth-place finish at the WSOP 2016 Monte Carlo €1,000,000 No Limit Hold’em Big One For One Drop with €1,750,000.

In 2018, Katz won $1,492,340 at the Bahamas $100,000 #1 No Limit Hold’em – Super High Roller event at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. He also placed second at the HK$ 1,000,000 No Limit Hold’em – Short Deck Ante-Only as part of the Triton Poker Super High Roller Series, earning $1,773,722.

The following year, he took down the Aussie Millions Poker Championship for $1,074,908. He placed fourth at the £250,000 No Limit Hold’em – Short Deck Ante Only “Les Ambassadeurs Private Event” of the Triton Poker Super High Roller Series, netting $2,085,096. The Super High Roller Bowl London gave Katz his biggest payout, a whopping $2,610,317.

His most recent high roller triumph was in 2021 when he won $1,058,000 at the $100,000 No Limit Hold’em – PokerGO Cup #8 of the PokerGO Tour.