Andy was born in 1969, in Connecticut and enjoyed playing cards from an early age and even more so enjoyed winning which with his aptitude for math, he invariably did. He studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and left in 1992 with two electrical engineering degrees and a top job offer from New York. He took the job as a computer programmer but it wasn’t long before he was back in Orange much to his parent’s disappointment. Bloch had had an argument with his boss and an aversion to authority and a desire to be ‘his own man’ are characteristics that are at the base of his life story.
Back home, armed with a computer, a penchant for numbers and interest in game theory, Bloch set about writing a program to calculate the odds in a new game at the local Foxwood’s casino called Wild Bill Hickock which had poker elements but was played against the house. The program took two days to write, two days to run and computed a strategy that would allow Bloch to beat the casino 53% of the time. It was a slow game though that would only earn about $30 an hour and so he began to look for other players to help him maximize the profits.
He began playing poker at this time and it was during one game that he bumped into some members of the MIT blackjack team. He shared his Wild Bill Hickock strategies with them and in return was invited to join their team. He spent his spare time learning to count cards and with MIT backing began his attack on the casinos on two fronts. The Wild Bill Hickock sojourn only lasted six months when figures of $1 million wins began to be banded around in the press. It was actually only paid out to the tune of $75,000 before the casino had caught on and the game was abandoned.
Blackjack proved a more profitable venture where Bloch would earn about $100,000 a year but would also lead to a mug shot of him appearing in Volume IV of the 1995 ‘Griffin’ book compiled by Griffin Investigations Incorporated, a Las Vegas detective agency. The book was circulated around the Vegas casinos and contained pictures and information on anyone suspected of cheating or card counting and often led to its entrants being barred from casinos or even arrest. Bloch suffered this ignominy on three occasions but each time the charges against him were dropped.
In 1996, he started playing poker more regularly and entered and cashed in his first WSOP tournament. At the same time he also decided to go back to university, this time going to Harvard to study law. He paid his way through school by playing blackjack with the MIT team and would skip classes for the WSOP but failed to finish in the money during this time. Andy worked one summer in a law firm but didn’t find it stimulating enough and so when he graduated in 1999, he turned to stock trading instead before deciding to become a professional tournament poker player.
The World Poker Tour had been the stimulus for Bloch’s decision to focus on poker and in its first season he managed a victory in a 7-card stud tournament and two Texas Hold’em third places worth over $100,000 each. In March of 2003, controversy-courting Bloch was arrested for crossing a police line whilst demonstrating against the Iraq war outside the White House. His conviction was overturned in late 2004, when Bloch defended himself at the Washington D.C. Court of Appeals.
The following year in 2004 he was standing by his principles again, this time boycotting WPT events because of the release they asked him to sign giving them rights about how his name and image would be used when promoting their tournaments.
His game managed to thrive in 2006 with a half a million-dollar win on TV’s ‘Pro-Am Equaliser’ and a second place in a WSOP event. His seven hour heads-up play at H.O.R.S.E. with David ‘Chip’ Reese was the longest in WSOP history and finally earned Bloch his largest cash finish to date, $1,029,600.
2008 was also financially rewarding with a runner-up place in NBC’s Heads-up tournament against Chris Ferguson and two final table finishes at the WSOP. However, a major tournament win still eluded him. In 2011 with many cash finished to his name Bloch won not only first and $44,085 in No Limit Hold’em – Epic Poker League Pro-Am Event but he won 8 Game at the Aussie Millions. In 2012 came his first WSOP bracelet when he earned first place and $126,363 playing seven card Stud.
Bloch embraces technology and in the 1997 WSOP used the first low-tech hole card camera to record his play. He was also a Full Tilt Poker Pro and when he played online he attracted many railbirds who asked him complicated game theory and mathematical poker questions which he was always willing to answer. He offered Skype consultation for only $10 if bought with his DVD – Beating Blackjack.
Andy Bloch has a belief in creating a better world which led him to donate all of his Full Tilt winnings to charities around the world. Following his game theory principles, he managed to win the 2003 Rock, Paper, Scissors world title as well. For more of his thoughts and principles, his website, www.andybloch.com, is worth a visit and even includes some of his original poetry and having given up his blackjack card-counting ways in 2000, the man once in danger of being barred has instead become a bard.
In the first event at the 2008 World Series of Poker, Andy Bloch had reached the final table and as chip leader was in sight of his first WSOP bracelet. With 10♦ 10♣ and a flop of 8♦ 2♠ 6♥ he placed a bet of $12,500 and his closest chip rival, Mike Sexton called him with 7♠ 6♠. The turn of 7♦ gave Sexton two pair and betting accordingly, he put $365,000 into the pot.
Both players had looked like they were doing mental arithmetic problems but Bloch, his head leaning on his fist, had little hesitation and announced ‘all in.’ Sexton smiled at his predicament and glanced at Bloch. Under his black cowboy hat emblazoned with the ‘Full Tilt Poker’ logo, Bloch’s features remained unresponsive and Sexton folded to his opponent’s show of strength.
Bloch took the large pot, his steely look and his reputation at math enough to make Sexton throw away the better hand. Sexton offered Andy $20 to tell him what cards he had been holding but a wry smile from Bloch was all he got in the way of a reply. The pot win gave Andy enough chips to help him progress to heads-up play against Nenad Medic but not enough to take the title, his second place and close to half a million dollars.
Last updated May 2013