Professional poker player Greg Himmelbrand keeps a poker face during one of his matches. Credit: Courtesy of TNS

Working the 9-5 lifestyle was never in the cards for Ohio State alum Greg Himmelbrand.

After graduating from Ohio State in 2005 with a degree in psychology, Himmelbrand began playing poker on the side while working at a restaurant. Fourteen years later, Himmelbrand plays poker professionally and has acquired more than $1.6 million in winnings.

Today, Himmelbrand calls Queens, New York, his home, where he is the 70th-ranked poker player in the state. Himmelbrand travels across the country, entering poker opens and competitions.

He said his favorite thing about what he does is the freedom.

“I can pick and choose what I want to set up, and I have the ultimate flexibility,” Himmelbrand said.

Much of his interest in poker was sparked in 2003 after the “moneymaker effect,” when Chris Moneymaker, an accountant from Tennessee, entered the online World Series of Poker Main Event with $86 and won $2.5 million.

The win exploded on ESPN, and it inspired Himmelbrand.

Himmelbrand said one of his favorite competitions was the 2015 World Series of Poker Baltimore Circuit, where he scored first place and made $82,864 against tough competition.

Recently, Himmelbrand won the $125,968 first-place prize at the 2018 Mid-States Poker Tour and his second MSPT title.

Chad Holloway, head of live reporting at PokerNews, has worked in the poker media industry since 2010. Holloway said his favorite thing about poker is that the game appeals to many different people, regardless of race, nationality and gender.

Holloway said the best professional poker players know how to manage defeat.

“One has to be mentally strong, disciplined, and have the ability to not let poker become intertwined with their self-worth,” Holloway said. “Most everyone can handle winning, but the true professionals are determined by how they deal with losing.”

Currently, Himmelbrand is participating in a big series in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He encourages students today to find a career in something they are passionate about.

“Do something you love that doesn’t feel like work,” Himmelbrand said.