Poker and Daily Fantasy Sports are two industries that are seeing a fair amount of overlap as both continue to expand to different states nationwide. Many players are splitting their days between grinding on the felt and grinding the virtual gridiron or basketball court at night.
One of those players is Gionni Demers, a DFS pro and unprecedented three-time DraftKings Millionaire Maker winner, who just added a major poker title to his resume when he took down the WSOP Online Event #14 ($500 No Limit Hold’em) for over $90,000. Demers says he’s a DFS pro first, but that he has enjoyed playing more poker recently.
“I actually have been trying these World Series events, I always wanted a bracelet. I haven’t played that much poker in the last year or so, maybe two years. I’ve been playing DFS and that has been taking up a lot of my time.”
Demers continued, “I would say I’m more of a DFS pro now. I lost motivation to grind poker after I got really good at DFS. It was just that new thrill for me and challenging. I love it.”
Demers has been playing DFS for three years now, but it wasn’t until late 2019 that he went on a massive heater, taking down three different Milly Maker events: two in the NFL, and one for PGA golf. His first title came on December 15, 2019, and amazingly, he finished runner-up twice in the following month.
Demers proved he wasn’t just an NFL expert when, on June 14, 2020, he took down the PGA Milly Maker. Demers admitted that he lost money his first year of playing, but after making adjustments, he saw incredible success.
“I know people who’ve been doing it a long time and don’t even have one Milly Maker win. Obviously, there is a lot of luck too, but I try to put myself in the best position every time to win. It still doesn’t seem real to me.”
Demers believes that playing for big money virtually every weekend gives him a certain advantage at the poker table. While the variety of skills to succeed are different in poker compared to DFS, the money factor is largely bigger in the DFS world, which gives Demers an advantage in big money ICM spots in poker.
“The money in DFS is a lot bigger compared to poker. The sweats are bigger because you have zero control over the players on what they do. You could go from winning $100K to winning nothing in one play. But I would say yes poker seems less sweaty than fantasy,” said Demers.
With DFS options more limited during the summer, it was the perfect time for Demers to step back onto the poker felt, and he did so in a big way in Event #14. The buy-in was just $500, and Demers had to wade through a field of over 1,000 runners, and despite the large field, two big names made it to the final table alongside Demers: Shankar Pillai, and David Williams.
Pillai bowed out in seventh place after losing a big coin flip, but Williams made it to the end, the last opponent Demers defeated on his way to the bracelet. Amazingly, Williams shared in a thread on Twitter that he was actually playing the event while on a night out in Vegas, eating dinner before going clubbing, all while grinding the WSOP event. Demers knew that he was at a tough final table, but said play there went smoothly, as it has throughout the event.
“I had chips most of the tournament, I never really got too short. I was lucky to get a decent table draw for the final table which helped. I was just patient and picked good spots.”
Demers continued about playing with pros Pillai and Williams, “Yes I knew who they were. I have seen Shankar around for a while, even in the PLO games. And for David, some people have different environments that they like to grind tournaments in. He played great.”
Now that Demers has added a nice chunk of change to his WSOP online account, he plans to keep the ball rolling and play more bracelet events this summer. However, he admitted that despite this recent poker score, he doesn’t see himself playing much at the live WSOP, which starts at the end of September in Las Vegas, but he also said never say never.
“Yes, I do plan to keep grinding WSOP online. I am thinking about going and playing live. I bought a house last year and it’s currently being remodeled but almost finished. So I’ll be ready to move soon.”