Ryan ‘hags021’ Hagerty Taking Love for Poker to New Heights in NJ


Ryan ‘hags021’ Hagerty put a journalism career on hold to chase down the pro poker dream (Borgata photo)

The regulation of online poker in New Jersey has allowed for players who may not have otherwise had a chance to pursue the game of poker the opportunity to play the game they love.

New Jersey has shown time and time again whether you are a longtime professional or a family man looking to make some money on the side, there is a chance to succeed in the Garden State.

Ryan ‘hags021’ Hagerty fits another demographic of players making their living in New Jersey as the 24-year-old’s love for the game was too much to put aside as he is now chasing his dreams in Brigantine. Hagerty graduated from Rowan University with a degree in Journalism but soon put the pen down and decided to pursue what stokes the fire within him.

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“For a while, I’ve just really wanted to be a pro poker player. It’s my passion and I’m not playing just to play or just for the money. I love it when I’m losing and love it when I’m playing. People don’t understand how much I love it. ”

Hagerty said his love for the game first ignited when a friend in high school invited him to play in a small house game. From there, Hagerty says he enjoyed the social aspect of it and over time learned to improve his game from using a wealth of study resources.

“I had fun but kept on losing $20 at a time. After a while, I figured out that it’s a skill game. I started reading stuff online and pushed myself to get better,” Hagerty said.

Hagerty notes that even when he is not playing online, he is spending a lot of his time studying and trying to get better every day. Most players around Hagerty’s age were not playing online before “Black Friday” and Hagerty himself acknowledges that he faces an uphill climb to be among the best players in New Jersey.

“I know that I’m a rare breed. New Jersey sites are great, but it’s kind of dead compared to what it once was. There aren’t a lot of kids my age who are trying to do what I’m doing.”

Despite being relatively young, Hagerty understands the complexities and challenges that come with being a professional poker player. While some may fully believe in the “hard way to make an easy living” adage, Hagerty knows there’s a chance that one day he may no longer be able to play the game he loves.

“Bankroll management is super important and I have to figure it out. My goal is for this not to end and I don’t want to face the day where Xx is not going to work anymore. I’ll find a way, whatever it takes to make it work. You can become broke in a second and I won’t let that happen,” Hagerty said.

Currently, Hagerty is ranked 21st in the PocketFives New Jersey Online Rankings but has his eyes set on much bigger long-term goals with the immediate one being able to travel out to Las Vegas to play in tournaments next summer.

Based on his passion and drive for poker, Hagerty is willing to lay it all on the line in his pursuit of being able to play poker professionally for years to come. The drive to be great is something not easily taught and as Hagerty’s career continues to grow, that “love for the game” should carry him a long way.