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Good Sports: Poker-faced Speller

Compiled/written by MELVIN DURAI Email Compiled/written by MELVIN DURAI
July 2012
Good Sports: Poker-faced Speller

Most National Spelling Bee champs go on to earn professional degrees and become doctors, engineers, and lawyers—the type of stable, high-paying careers that stereotypical Indian parents want for their children. But 2002 winner Pratyush Buddiga is following a different script: he’s playing on the international poker circuit.

Buddiga, 23, learned poker from a friend in high school and had success with online poker before trying his hand at World Series of Poker events in Las Vegas. “I think a lot of the skills I learned from the spelling bee—putting in a lot of hard work, determination and never giving up—have really helped me with poker,” he told PokerListings.com. “The biggest thing was that after the spelling bee I really felt like I could be the best at anything if I really try. I’m not trying to be egotistical—I feel anyone can apply the same principal—but having the spelling bee in the rear view gives me confidence that I can do it.”

While he isn’t a champion yet, Buddiga is enjoying quite a bit of success in poker. In April, he finished in 8th place at a tournament in Berlin and pocketed $94,127, then finished 16th in Monte Carlo and took home $66,140. His spelling skills may be rusty, but he does know how to spell C-H-A-C-H-I-N-G.

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