Brian Feldman has the background to do play-by-play and marketing for the World Series of Poker. This year, he’s a player.
"It’s like being a little fish in a sea of sharks," said Feldman, a former pro and college sports announcer in Detroit and current manager of a Las Vegas realty company.
"I have a snowball’s chance out of 7,000, but I believe I can play with anyone," said the 1986 graduate of Michigan State with a degree in marketing and chutzpah. "I am verbal if those at my table are playing bad or I can just lie back in the weeds and eat without being noticed."
Feldman gained entry into this year’s World Series of Poker at the Rio through a sponsorship secured by winning and cashing in tournaments locally and online.
"I believe success in poker is 70 percent skill and 30 percent luck," said Feldman, who has been married for 12 years. "It’s a wing and a prayer. Hopefully my game will be on. The good thing is I can still work 55-hour weeks selling homes."
Feldman’s dad sold him on poker during his childhood days in Michigan, but it wasn’t until two years ago that he believed there was a professional future for him in the sport.
"My dad used to run Sunday night card games at home, where I would just sit there and watch," he said. "I was fascinated by poker and the different versions. But, it wasn’t until I moved to Las Vegas in 2004 that I wanted to do something with poker for money."
Feldman’s priorities changed when he developed a friendship with the former owner of American Equity Mortgage, the company that sponsored the Detroit Lions, Tigers and Red Wings on CBS Radio for five years when he was both an announcer and in marketing.
"He recruited me to work for him and finally I said yes," Feldman said. "The company transferred me to Las Vegas, where I began putting my poker knowledge to use professionally."
Feldman said he would play at least one local tournament a week, whether at The Orleans, Sahara, Binion’s, Wynn, Mirage or Bellagio. At home, his experience came through winning Texas Hold’em online tourneys.
"I’ve won something like 15 tourneys on line and in poker rooms playing against 250 people or more," he said. "I won the biggest single night tourney at Orleans as the last alternate, which nobody had ever done. I played against 280 people the Friday after Thanksgiving and my group of seven came away with $2,155."
Feldman won top prize of $8,246 in a $35,000 on line satellite event, which paid the top three finishers from a field of 250. At that point, Feldman believed he had the game to challenge the best at the WSOP.
"I’m just happy to get a ticket to the show," he said. "I have to give my sponsor 50 percent of whatever I win, but I wouldn’t mind a bit. I could then give up my day job."
Even if he doesn’t win a coveted gold bracelet, Feldman will at least come away with two WSOP tattoos.
"I’ll have the ace of spades and ace of hearts, along with the WSOP logo," said Feldman, who turns 44 on July 25. "It would be great to celebrate my birthday as the champion. If that happened, I would join the World Poker Tour and enjoy life."
The WPT can always use another instant millionaire.