David Paredes Found His Zen After Losing Friend, Bankroll & Job

David Paredes at the WPT Borgata Winter Open Final Table. (Photo courtesy of WPT)

David Paredes at the WPT Borgata Winter Open Final Table. (Photo courtesy of WPT)

David Paredes might not be a household name in broader poker circles, but he’s a player on the rise and is currently sixth in the North American Triple-A Player of the Year standings. He’s quietly amassed $1.4 million in live tournament earnings and netted his largest live score to date in January.

That runner-up finish at the Borgata Winter Open for half a million dollars should have been the brightest spot of his career, but Paredes was crushed on the inside. His Day 2 began with tragic news of the death of a close friend, but to hear Paredes tell the story, it inspired him to play some of the best poker of his life.

Paredes’ roots come from online cash games where he would grind for hours in his home office before Black Friday. But poker wasn’t his only passion, if not for the economy going south in 2008, Paredes may have never taken to the live felt.

Paredes was living in New York and attending law school in 2007 and happened to win a satellite that would go on to shape his life – he just didn’t know it yet.

“I was actually just an online player – I had never played any live tournaments. I just happened to win a seat to the PCA Main Event,” Paredes said. “I went, but I was really just a cash game player.”

He returned to school after he picked up a moderate cash – 78th place for $14,128. He finished school and by late 2007 he was hired to work for a hedge fund. “It was very interesting but I had very bad timing,” Paredes said. “I started with the hedge fund right before the crash and then there wasn’t much going on and I eventually was let go.”

Paredes’ hedge fund career did manage to last over two years before he was laid off. But even while he was working and not really playing cards he still had poker on his mind. “I did like it (the job) and I learned a lot, but I really loved poker,” he said. “I’ve always had a huge passion for the game. I’ve never had one day of playing poker where I thought of it as work, it’s always been fun for me.

After losing his job, Paredes played a mix of live events and online cash games. In 2010 he made a few poker trips and netted some pretty decent scores. He made a deep run in the first North American Poker Tour event at the Venetian in 2010. At the final table he found himself surrounded by eventual winner Thomas Marchese, Sam Stein and “Miami” John Cernuto to test his game. He finished in fifth place for $184,816.

That score was the high mark of the year for him but he did string together another $113,689 in cashes with trips to the EPT Grand Final, the World Series of Poker and a score in the $10,000 buy-in Bellagio Cup. In total, Paredes had $300,000 in winnings before he really even considered live tournaments a viable route for him because he was primarily playing online cash games from the comfort of his home office.

Then came Black Friday and overnight Paredes lost his bankroll. “I was really playing online for the majority of my play with the occasional live session or private game – mostly cash games,” he said. “It took away my revenue stream.”

After Black Friday, instead of panicking, Paredes decided to hit the tournament trail. “I realized there was value in these live tournaments,” Paredes said. But living on the East Coast proved to have some drawbacks – one of which was a two hour drive to Foxwoods.

“I was travelling anyways – what’s the difference in driving two hours to Foxwoods versus taking a two hour flight somewhere?” asked Paredes. “I didn’t play tournaments exclusively – I liked to mix it with cash games, it kept things fresh for me. But I started enjoying (tournaments). I had a little bit of success right off the bat at the Venetian and that kind whet my appetite for them.”

Paredes next big score came in the 2011 WSOP in one of the richest events that year – the $25,000 Heads Up Championship. Paredes faced a super hot Sam Trickett in the first round months after Trickett won over $3 million at the Aussie Millions. Paredes defeated Trickett and drew Bruno Launais in the second round.

Paredes defeated Launias and drew John Juanda for the Round of 32. Paredes won that match and advanced to the Round of 16 to face Kunimaro Kojo. A win later and he was up against Yevgeniy Timoshenko, the eventual runner-up, but ran out of steam and finished in the top eight for $138,852.

Over the two next years Paredes added a WPT final table and a few five-figure cashes while traveling the circuit. His next big break came in the 2013 WSOP Main Event where he played his way to a 90th place finish for $71,053.  That finish gave him momentum to finish out the year with another five five-figure cashes.

Paredes was playing well but as January approached but some things in his personal life came to the forefront. A year prior in January 2013 he had planned to attend a concert with a good friend of his but life pitched the friends a bad hand. “Me and my buddy were set to go to this concert in Toronto and he said he wasn’t feeling well so he went to the hospital,” he said. “He was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung and brain cancer. The doctors gave him six months to live.”

“A year went by and he was still living – he had an incredible fighting spirit,” Paredes continued. “The same concert that happened a year before was coming up and we wanted to go to the concert. I didn’t know how long he had left. We were going to go, we had tickets and everything. At the last minute he couldn’t go and I went by myself. ”

“I had already planned to go to the Borgata and I didn’t know how much time he had left. I played and made the end Day 1,” said Paredes. “I was kind of hoping that if I busted quick I could go see him one more time.”

“Day 2 of the tournament he passed away,” he said with a heavy voice.

“I just really thought about his fighting spirit and how positive he was and how everything seemed to just roll off his back,” Paredes said. “I said to myself, ‘I’m not going to lose this.’ I played my heart out because if he could battle and live twice as long as he was supposed to then I can fold king jack off-suit from under the gun.”

Paredes went on to earn the largest cash of his career – $499,549. Though he didn’t win, he finished runner-up to Anthony Merulla. On the final hand Paredes looked to double up and take the chip lead, but Merulla’s inferior kicker made him a second pair and Paredes couldn’t catch up.

“I really channeled his spirit and felt his energy with me – not in a religious way – but I was channeling his spirit. It was a really nice thing for me to honor his memory because I played that tournament for him,” he said.

Since his Borgata experience Paredes has a few cashes in some large fields which have pushed him up the Triple-A POY standings. But poker hasn’t been his only interest. “I would like to pursue some other interests of mine; I have a big interest in writing fiction and I’m working on a novel right now.”

With the start of the WSOP looming just a couple of weeks away Paredes isn’t entirely distracted by writing. He plans on playing all the big No Limit Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha events and possibly a few of the smaller mixed events.

“I think I’ll play poker for the rest of my life because I love playing it so much,” he said. “It’s always fun for me.”

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Paul Oresteen

Senior Writer: Paul Oresteen originally joined BLUFF in 2008 as an intern. He covered two World Series of Poker’s before leaving to join PokerNews.com. After a two year hiatus Oresteen returned to BLUFF in November 2012. Since starting as a poker journalist Oresteen has covered the World Series of Poker, WSOP Circuit, World Poker Tour and European Poker Tour. He graduated from Georgia State University with a B.A. in Communications in 2008.
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