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Dan Harrington – Professional Poker Player, Businessman and Author

Dan Harrington is a very talented poker player, who owns two World Series of Poker bracelets and a World Poker Tour title. Although he takes a more conservative approach to the game, he has still been able to find a great deal of success over the years.

Throughout his career, Dan has managed to win a combined total of 6.6 million dollars for live cash tournaments alone, which places him as number two on Massachusetts’ All Time Money List.

“You don’t win 100% of the time. You do something adequate. You stay in the game, and you keep playing. You’re going to win eventually.” ~Daniel Harrington

Early Experiences

Dan Harrington was born on December 6th, 1945 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Both of his parents were born in Ireland; his mother was from Waterford, while his father was from Cork. Very little is known about Dan’s childhood other than the fact that he spent a great deal of time honing his chess and backgammon skills. His hard work paid off when he was able to take first place in the 1971 Massachusetts State Chess Championship. He competed in and won many backgammon games as well.

While he was attending Suffolk University, he learned how to play poker. Although he didn’t compete in actual tournaments right away, he would travel to other universities and play against the students there. He would often travel to Harvard, where he once got the opportunity to play against Bill Gates and Paul Allen, who are better known today as the co-founders of Microsoft.

After Dan gained a little more experience, he started travelling to New York City on the weekends to play at the Mayfair Club. The core group of players that were often there besides Dan were Jay Heimowitz, Al Krux, Erik Seidel, and Steve Zolotow. Most of these men decided to dedicate their lives to a career in poker, but Dan wasn’t so quick to jump on that band wagon.

Dan graduated from Suffolk University with a Degree in Government and History; he continued his education and earned a Juris Doctorate. Dan spent the next ten years of his life working as a Bankruptcy Lawyer in Boston, Massachusetts. The job excited him at first, but he quickly grew tired of all the paperwork he had to fill out and he felt completely drained every day of his life. He found himself searching for more, so he started doing the one thing he always enjoyed doing: playing poker.

His Poker Career

Dan first entered the World Series of Poker in 1986. Although this would be his first exposure to such a huge tournament, he still managed to place twenty-fourth at the $1500 Limit Hold’em event. The following year, he entered the WSOP again, but this time he was able to place sixth on the No Limit Hold’em Championship. During that tournament, he had the opportunity to play against very accomplished players such as Johnny Chan and Howard Lederer.

Over the next decade, Dan would continue to enter these tournaments and he would continue to land cash finishes. It wouldn’t be until 1995 that he finally caught the break he was looking for, when he won his first gold bracelet on the $2500 No Limit Hold‘em tournament game. Dan used the $250,000 cash prize he won from his tournament to enter that year’s championship event. He knew the competition would be fierce, so he wasn’t expecting to go very far.

However, when he made it to the final table, things started to look promising. He wasn’t the chip leader, but he did have a good understanding of the playing styles of the other competitors. He offered the players a nine-way split of the winnings, but they refused. He was going to have to win this money the hard way. So he continued on with the competition, and slowly but surely the other players started to get eliminated.

Finally it came down to him and Howard Goldfarb, who had twice as many chips as him. Despite being the underdog, Dan won the championship that year through safe plays and strategic planning. He was ironically given the nickname “Action Dan,” even though he’s actually a very tight player.

Winning the WSOP main event gave Dan the confidence he needed to enter other tournaments he was afraid to try before. Just a few months after winning, he travelled to London to compete in the Festival of Poker. Dan was surprised to find he was capable of taking home the first place prize of over $100,000. He would eventually go on to enter other tournaments as well including the World Poker Tour and the Carnivale of Poker.

Dan Harrington took several years off from playing poker to venture into the business world, which we explain in more detail in the section below. When Dan came back, it was like he had never left. He made the final table of the World Series of Poker Tournament in 2003, taking third place out of 839 entrants and $650,000 in prize money. The following year he made it to the final table again, but this time he placed fourth out of 2,576 entrants, earning himself $1.5 million.

Dan didn’t just do well at the World Series of Poker after he returned, but he actually landed several cash finishes at the World Poker Tour as well. In 2007, he accomplished what only few people before him have done. He won the WPT’s No Limit Hold’em Championship Event for the grand prize of $1.6 million dollars, making him the proud owner of both a World Poker Tour title and a World Series of Poker bracelet.

In 2010, Dan Harrington was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame alongside eight time WSOP gold bracelet winner, Erik Seidel. At the time of induction, there were only forty members and only a few people get selected each year. This is a very exclusive group of poker enthusiasts, and being a part of it means that you are one of the best. After the induction ceremony, Dan received a signature glass trophy, which he’ll always have to cherish.

Although Dan would consider himself to be retired, he still makes time to travel to some of the major tournaments. Most recently, he has been travelling to Ireland to compete in PaddyPower’s Irish Open. Dan hasn’t made any significant wins at the tournament, but he just enjoys visiting the area his parents grew up in. He also enjoys exploring the city of Dublin in between poker sessions. In an interview with PokerListings in 2015, Dan said,

“I enjoy being here a lot. PaddyPower runs a very nice tournament here, it’s a lot of fun to play in it. After busting I took time off to take the chance and walk around Dublin, because I like the city very much.”

Anchor Loans

Dan didn’t want to just pour all of his winnings back into poker, but he instead wanted to start investing with it. He started his own business called, Anchor Loans, which serves as a mediator for both borrowers and lenders. On average, this company has over 1000 active loans that consistently amount to over $500 million.

Dan would use the profits from this business to invest in the stock market and to buy real-estate. He officially retired from the company in 2010, giving his ownership over to Jeffery Lipton and Steve Pollack. He’s still a majority shareholder to this day, and can give credit to this business for the majority of his wealth.

Poker Strategy Books

With the help of Bill Robertie, Dan has written a plethora of poker themed books over the years. These books are packed full of valuable advice from two men who are extremely knowledgeable on the subject. They are known to have set the standard for poker strategy books in the future. Each of these books were published by Two Plus Two Publishing, and they are listed for you below.

Harrington on Hold’em: Expert Strategy for No-Limit Tournaments (Volume I: Strategic Play)

~By Dan Harrington and Bill Robertie (2004)

Harrington on Hold ’em: Expert Strategy for No-Limit Tournaments (Volume II: The Endgame)

~By Dan Harrington and Bill Robertie (2005)

Harrington on Hold ’em: Expert Strategy for No-Limit Tournaments (Volume III: The Workbook)

~By Dan Harrington and Bill Robertie (2006)

Harrington on Cash Games: How to Win at No-Limit Hold ’em Money Games (Volume I)

~By Dan Harrington and Bill Robertie (2008)

Harrington on Cash Games: How to Win at No-Limit Hold ’em Money Games (Volume II)

~By Dan Harrington and Bill Robertie (2008)

Harrington on Online Cash Games: 6-Max No Limit Hold ‘em

~By Dan Harrington and Bill Robertie (2010)

Harrington on Modern Tournament Poker: How to Play No-Limit Hold ’em Multi-Table Tournaments

~By Dan Harrington and Bill Robertie (2014)

All of these books come highly recommended. Poker News released an article about these series in 2008, saying this in regards to the book series,

“To say that Dan Harrington and Bill Robertie’s hugely successful Harrington on Hold’em series changed the way tournament poker is discussed and played would be an obvious understatement. The first two volumes (published in 2004 and 2005) continue to rest comfortably near the top of lists of best-selling poker books, and virtually every book on hold’em tournament strategy written since further reaffirms the series’ influence.”
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