Poker has outstanding strategic depth and has developed a fantastically competitive scene. Since the inaugural World Series of Poker (WSOP) in 1970, countless legendary moments and world-renowned players have left their mark on this iconic game. Over the past 50 years, it has evolved from a small local event into a global phenomenon. Innovative betting strategies, daring bluffs, and moments of unfathomable luck by world-class players have made poker one of the most thrilling and entertaining spectator sports. The world series continues to be the standard of excellence for every major player, fueling the highly popularized world of high-stakes poker tournaments and elevating individuals to superstardom. In this article, we will spotlight one such poker superstar: Erik “Seiborg” Seidel.

Player Overview

Erik Seidel is an American professional poker player. He was born in New York but now calls Las Vegas home. Despite being over sixty years old, he remains a formidable opponent. He has won nine World Series of Poker bracelets, tying Johnny Moss for the fifth-most bracelets of all time. With over $42 million in tournament winnings, Seidel ranks as the sixth-highest earner on the Hendon Mob’s all-time money list.

He was one of the famous players from the Mayfair Club in New York City, sitting proudly alongside names like Stu Ungar, Jay Heimowitz and Dan Harrington. For his incredibly long-lived and successful tournament career, he was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2010.

Seidel is a reserved, quiet player, which you may not expect, given poker’s association with glamorous and flamboyant pros. A family man through and through, Seidel is dedicated to poker but enjoys an unassuming, regular lifestyle away from the table with his wife and two daughters.

He has been given the nicknames “Sly” and “Seiborg” by his fans for his crafty and machine-like playstyle.

Early Life

Seidel was born in New York City on November 6, 1959. Like many other poker pros, he was a born gambler. He relished a mental challenge, getting into backgammon early on. Backgammon became not just a hobby, but a source of income and he dedicated time to thoroughly studying the game’s strategy. He dropped out of school to play backgammon and his reputation got him invited to the renowned Mayfair Club in New York City at age 17. Here, he struck up a friendship with poker legend Stu Ungar, an avid backgammon player himself. Ungar mentored Seidel, teaching him the strategy behind poker as Seidel watched him play. Eventually, he was inspired to try to play the game himself. He bought David Sklansky’s poker book to further his knowledge of the game.

Eric enjoyed poker as a hobby, but as he already had a family he needed to be  responsible. This led Seidel to a career in Wall Street trading as a more stable means of income, but this reliability was compromised after the stock market crash of 1987. This is what prompted Eric to make the decision to make poker his primary livelihood.

Poker Career

The first of many noteworthy events in Seidel’s career happened in 1988. He placed second in the World Series of Poker Main Event, losing to the legendary Johnny Chan, and winning $280,000. This achievement was even more impressive, considering it was his first tournament cash as a poker pro. The final hand was immortalized in the classic poker movie, Rounders.

In 1991, he placed second in a WSOP Limit Hold’em event, earning $105,000. In 1992, he claimed his first WSOP bracelet at a Limit Hold’em event, followed by two more bracelets back-to-back in 1993 and 1994. He scored his fourth bracelet in 1998 and in the same year he cashed four times in various other events. He closed his ‘90s era with a fourth place victory at the 1999 WSOP main event, winning close to $280,000. 

Due to his continued success, Seidel and his family moved to Las Vegas, where they still live. The move paid off in the best way as over the years he won additional bracelets in 2001, 2003, 2005, and 2007 in a variety of events including No Limit Hold’em, Pot Limit Omaha and No-Limit Deuce-to-Seven Draw Lowball.

In 2008, he won the World Poker Tour (WPT) Foxwoods Poker Classic, earning nearly $1 million. In 2011, Seidel almost won his second WPT title at the Hollywood Open, becoming the runner-up and earning $155,000. In 2015, he won the European Poker Tour Grand Final, earning a whopping €2 million. Surprisingly, this wasn’t even the biggest cash of his tournament career. His 2011 win at the Aussie Millions Super High Roller netted him $2.5 million.

After going 14 years without a win, Seidel finally claimed his ninth bracelet in 2021, taking down the $10,000 Super MILLION$ High Roller as part of the 2021 WSOP Online at GGPoker.