While clicking buttons or riffling chips takes up most of the time spent in “the office” of a professional poker player, like any other job, there are hobbies that players enjoy taking part in when they aren’t grinding. When the weather cooperates, the golf course is a well-traveled destination for players as the gambling nature of the game carries over along with the competition aspect.
New Jersey native and resident Daniel ‘wildman75’ Buzgonhas a fondness for golf that stretches back to his childhood and led him to pursue a degree in Professional Golf Management from Arizona State University. It was there where the 32-year-old Buzgon first found poker. These days, Buzgon enjoys a life as a respected professional and he sees plenty of similarities in comparing the two games, calling golf “the perfect compliment to poker.”
“I think golf and poker fit together perfectly for a lot of people for a lot of reasons. They are both individual ‘sports’ (using that term VERY loosely) where all the pressure is on you. There is no teammate to bail you out in crunch time and that’s why I really enjoy both of them. Unlike a lot of sports or games, it is very easy to get a fair bet in golf because of the use of handicaps. Everyone is essentially even and it just matters who shows up and plays better on that day,” said Buzgon.
Buzgon certainly knows of what he speaks when talking about the green felt and the putting green. The two-time World Poker Tour final tablist has over $1,600,000 in live tournament earnings to go along with $2,600,000 in online tournament cashes. In addition, Buzgon is the proud owner of a 2.5 handicap.
In fact, Buzgon’s commitment to both poker and golf stretches so far that during Borgata Poker Open events, Buzgon can be seen sporting the necessary attire so that should he bust from the event he is playing, he can head directly to the golf course. Fortunately for Buzgon, he was forced to miss some tee times in September as he cashed in the Borgata Poker Open $2,000,000 guaranteed Event 1, Almighty Stack event, and the WPT Main Event.
From all of his time shared between the tee box and green, Buzgon has picked up on a few of the nuanced similarities that golf and poker share and a keen understanding of how luck plays a role in both.
“The only thing worse than listening to poker players bad beat stories is listening to golfers bad beat stories. You can do everything right in a hand and still lose while you watch your tablemate do everything wrong in a hand and still win,” said Buzgon. “That’s how the game works and of course, it’s frustrating as hell but stop worrying about it because you cannot control it. There is nothing more enjoyable than when you hit an awful shot and you get a favorable bounce and end up closer to the pin than your opponent who thought he just hit the best shot of his life. You can’t control the outcome so stop worrying about the results.”
Fair is not the word that most people would use when initially describing the qualities of the games requiring two cards and a two iron. Buzgon acknowledges that dealing with adversity comes with the territory for both endeavors and that in tournament poker, sometimes laying up is good enough.
“There have been so many times where I have been playing a round and everything is going along smoothly and then you lose focus for one shot and your whole round is essentially over. You are not going to win every hand that you play in a poker tournament and you are not going to hit every shot the way you want to over the course of a round. Dealing with these usually separates the good players from the elite ones.”
Buzgon concedes that at this point in his poker career, he is content to stay home and play cash games online at night while golfing during the day instead of “traveling around living out of a suitcase playing tournaments.” The life of a full-time tournament grinder may be behind him but with the Borgata Winter Poker Open set to open on January 17, Buzgon will be ready to put his game to the test as there’s always another hole waiting to be played.