Top 2010 Poker Player Stories – #11 Dwyte Pilgrim
Fair or not, there is often a distinction between the “big leagues” and the “minor leagues” when it comes to poker tournaments. While the greater buy in tournaments garner more prestige, there are far more tournaments run throughout Casino’s globally that don’t feature buy-ins at the $1,000 and up level. So many poker tournaments are held that have a couple hundred bucks as the entry fee, and first prize pays well under $100k. Their tournaments aren’t necessarily on the radar of most professional poker players as the return on their investments doesn’t make them worth their time, especially since little to no notoriety comes along with the prizes.
In 2009, Dwyte Pilgrim won 2 World Series of Poker Circuit Championship Rings. He coupled that year with a total of $332k in earnings, a very respectable number for any red-blooded human in any profession. That total placed him in the top 300 of poker players around the globe in earnings for the 2009 year, and he began to really appear on the radar as the “King of the Minor Leagues.”
Pilgrim began 2010 with a bang at the Southern Poker Championship in Biloxi Mississippi, by winning both the $500 and the $300 Buy-in No Limit Hold’em Events, and then finishing runner up in the $1,000 buy in event. Not a bad run in a couple weeks. He followed that series up with another final table at the WSOP-C at Tunica in their $5k Main Event finishing in 6th place, and then found 2 more final tables including a win at the $1,500 buy in Mega Stack Challenge XV at Mashantucket. This was all by the end of the 2nd week of February of the year. Then in March, Pilgrim won his 3rd WSOP-C Ring with a win at the $300 buy-in event at Harrah’s Rincon in San Diego, CA.
Heading into the World Series of Poker this year, there was a ton of attention in the Minor League Superstar, and whether or not Pilgrim could maintain his tournament success at the larger levels on the biggest stage in the world. Pilgrim didn’t disappoint, booking 3 WSOP Cashes, including a final table at the $2,500 Mixed Limit/No-Limit Hold’em Event which was won by Gavin Smith. Pilgrim would finish 8th in that event, and then would finish 414th in the WSOP Main Event for another $31,647. I ran into him several times at the WSOP, and we talked about his ride on the year. He made me believe in him when he said to me “I’ve got a really big score coming. I can just feel it.” And he was right.
His big score came in September at the 2010 WPT Borgata Poker Open in Atlantic City, where Pilgrim bested the 1,042 player field to win the WPT event and a $733,802 prize. Pilgrim was beside himself with glee, and simply…wept, overcome with emotions in a truly beautiful moment. All told, he’s now booked more than $1.1 million in earnings in 2010, which included a brief one month stint on ESPN.com’s monthly top 10 poker players rankings. But perhaps the biggest prize that Pilgrim garnered was that of the poker playing community, which has to acknowledge that Dwyte Pilgrim is now a “major league poker player”.