Carson ‘bustindanut’ Barton Making His Mark on Poker, Lacrosse

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Canada’s Carson ‘bustindanut’ Barton is playing poker while trying to pursue professional lacrosse.

Being passionate about two things doesn’t always lead to being successful in both of those endeavors. Sure, Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders found success playing both football and baseball, but that’s the exception, not the rule.

Edmonton’s Carson ‘bustindanut’ Barton, 24, who recently took second in the PokerStars Sunday Supersonic for $35,000, has been playing poker since age 14. Despite his success in poker, it’s another sport that has stolen his heart over the years.

“Lacrosse has been my priority for most of my life and I have aspirations to play professionally,” Barton said. “Poker, on the other hand, is a close second and takes a lot of my focus. I don’t have the same aspirations to play poker professionally, at least not at the moment.”

He wrapped up his college career playing at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona after battling a knee injury.

“I got a storybook ending with a national championship,” he said. “That season led to me playing lacrosse in Vancouver last summer and, in turn, getting drafted into the National Lacrosse League in September by the Calgary Roughnecks. I did not make the final roster this year, but will be back next season looking for a different result.”

He was the Roughnecks’ sixth round draft pick last year.

Winning a national championship in lacrosse was nothing short of amazing for Barton.

“The greatest feeling of all was pride. When I came into that program, we were struggling,” said Barton. “Being part of the progression from the bottom to the top was the most rewarding thing.”

There are 10 players on the field for a standard lacrosse team at a time: a goalkeeper, three defensemen, three midfielders, and three attackers. The object: get the ball in the opponent’s goal. Plain and simple.

“Lacrosse is extremely mentally and physically demanding,” Barton said. “It’s tough and you have to love it to be successful. This is also true of poker. If you aren’t tough and your mental game is weak, you will not succeed at the highest level.”

Barton, who played attack in college, is a transition player, a mix of offense and defense, in the five-on-five indoor game.

“In box lacrosse, you play on concrete or thin turf, so it’s taxing on the body. In box lacrosse, we call playing on offense and defense a ‘transition’ player. It’s a very competitive position because you have to be a very well-rounded player.”

Being physically fit and getting tons of exercise have improved his focus when he’s grinding online.

“My poker schedule varies a lot. Obviously, I dedicate Sundays to poker. After that, it depends. I enjoy the Saturday schedule as well,” said Barton, the #1 ranked online poker player in Alberta. “I am ramping up my training for the summer lacrosse season now, so I will be playing a bit less in the coming months.”

Balancing lacrosse, poker, and school has been challenging for Barton at times. It’s not every day that you have time to juggle three time-intensive activities.

“I’ve had to assess what’s most important and shift my focus accordingly,” he said of how he has crafted his schedule. “My decision was made for me, though, because playing online poker in the US is not a viable option at the moment. In a way, Black Friday was good for me. While my bankroll might have suffered, my grades certainly appreciated it.”

While he was in college in Arizona, poker games were hard to come by after Black Friday in 2011. Now that he’s graduated, he’s back in Canada full-time and has been able to shift his attention to Hold’em.

While online poker doesn’t exist in Arizona, live poker at Indian casinos certainly does. There are about two dozen casinos littered about the state, which allowed Barton to dabble in live games about once a month. That and Twitch kept his mind full of poker even though he wasn’t able to fire up sites like PokerStars.

“Essentially, I never stopped thinking about poker,” he said. “Nothing replaces experience, though, so it usually takes a couple of solid weeks of grinding for me to shake the rust off. There are always new playing styles and trends emerging in online poker and it’s important to stay on top of these so you can adjust and hopefully exploit them.”

“Only getting to play during the summer and maybe a few weeks at Christmas was challenging,” he said. “That came with some benefits as well. I had a time frame, which added pressure. In a game with so much short-term variance, it forced me to play my A-game every session. I cherished my sessions and did all I could to maximize my profit. I never experienced much burnout because of my time away from the felt either.”

As the old saying goes, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

Moving forward, Barton will continue taking breaks from the game even though he has access to online poker 24/7.

“Poker is one of my passions in life, but not the only one,” he said. “Spending time with my family and friends and pursuing my dream to play professional lacrosse will all lead to an enjoyable and healthy lifestyle.”

“Hard work beats talent every time when talent isn’t working hard,” Barton said. “This is something I strongly believe is true in almost all aspects of life. My work ethic and dedication have given me the ability to continue to pursue my passions in lacrosse and poker and I’m excited to see what the future holds for me in those two ventures.”

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