WSOP: Ben Mintz is Back Mixin’ It Up in First Main Event Since ‘13

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Ben Mintz is playing his first WSOP Main Event since 2013.

Most people who play the World Series of Poker Main Event don’t even think of bringing their work with them when they come to chase poker immortality. Ben Mintz isn’t most people though.

Mintz, who hosts a drive-time sports radio show in Shreveport-Bossier, Louisiana, is onto Day 3 of the Main Event but has also made time to get on air while in Las Vegas, even having former #1-ranked PocketFiver Ari Engel on as a guest.

Mintz last played the Main Event in 2013, long before the radio show was something he’d even considered. Mintz, also a PocketFiver, used to make his living grinding online. After Black Friday he attempted to make the transition to live poker, but it didn’t quite go as he’d hoped.

“I was living down in New Orleans and travelling the circuit, just kind of wasn’t managing it right. I don’t think it was a question of me not having enought talent, it was more about living above my means after online went down,” said Mintz, who decided to leave poker behind and return to college to finish off the finance degree he’d left behind to play poker.

“Then I got a huge break, my buddy used to run ESPN radio in North Louisiana and I didn’t have any experience and all and I hooked up with drive-time sports radio in Shreveport-Bossier,” said Mintz, whose show is called Mixin’ It Up with Mintz.

That was three years ago. Mintz has been building the show’s audience and business up ever since and in January decided that the show was in a place where he could start traveling the circuit for poker again. He picked up some decent scores early which boosted his confidence after time away from the tables.

“I made the final table of the WSOP Circuit New Orleans Main Event, I got seventh, I made a deep run in Durant, cashed the Tunica main. It’s been a steady build up on the comeback,” said Mintz, who just turned 35 years old. “Getting back here to the Main Event, I used to not appreciate it in my late 20s. Now I’m just so grateful to be able to play again and I found a great balance in life and I feel like the luckiest guy in the world.”

While completing his finance degree, Mintz had taken on a part-time job and that experience as much as anything has allowed him to appreciate his return to poker even more.

“It took five years to build it back, to get to this point. Now I’m back and I’ve got the radio show with me too,” said Mintz. “Even though I haven’t played this in five years I’ve fallen right back into poker like I never left, except I actually have an income now to sustain it.”

Mintz cashed in the 2011 Main Event, finishing 75th. His winnings from that event are almost secondary to his memory of running deep – including a spot where he got to outplay one of the game’s best players.

“I can’t even believe I did this. (Patrik Antonius) sat down at our table and just didn’t recognize anybody so he just started raising 90% of the hands and we had a hand that I’ll never forget. At 1,200/2,400, he made it 7,200 in the cutoff and I had king-queen on the button and I made it 18,500 and he’s like, ‘Who the hell is this kid?’ and makes it 63,000 – went real, real big,” remembered Mintz. “I had around 200K and he had 160K and I was about to fold and I remember looking at him and thinking ‘This dude just doesn’t think I’ve got the heart to put it in without kings or aces’ and I bombed king-queen and he folded. I showed it and everybody just laughed at the table.”

Even though most people will tell you that poker, in particula No Limit Hold’em, has changed dramatically since 2013, Mintz says he hasn’t felt like he was behind at all, even though he expected to find some speed bumps.

“I thought I was going to have more of an adjustment coming back, but a lot of these kids now, they didn’t cut their teeth during the online heyday. When I was playing Full Tilt and Stars, it was against all the top guys in the world,” said Mintz. “I think that these kids coming up now on the circuit – I’m not saying they’re not good players – but they didn’t cut their teeth like we did. So as I came back it wasn’t as much of an adjustment as I thought it would be.”

No matter how the rest of the Main Event goes for Mintz, he knows he’s in a much better position to enjoy the ride now than he’s ever been.

“If you had told 12-year-old me that I was going to get to do a sports radio show 15-20 hours a week and get to play poker 15-20 hours a week? That’s unbelievable. I wake up skipping out of bed every day. I love it,” said Mintz.