Created (4/28/2018 1:08:08 AM by Chad Holloway)
A year ago, Buffalo New York’s Chris Meyers, who is in action here on Day 1A of the MSPT Meskwaki (his first-ever visit to Iowa), gave strong consideration to leaving the poker world behind. Like so many grinders, he was worn out wondering if and when his time would come. With some encouragement from a friend, he decided to give it one more shot in 2017, and now he’s the Kimo Sabe Mezcal MSPT Season 8 Player of the Year.
“I’m at Turning Stone playing a $500 tournament,” the 36-year-old Meyers explained of that fateful decision to persevere. “On the Day 2 dinner break, I told my friends that I was thinking about exiting poker as a career. My friend, Veerab Zakarian, who is the most confident kid I know, looked at me and told me to give it one more year. I went on to chop that tournament heads up and here we are one year later.”
We caught up with Meyers, known to Buffalo locals as “Jersey Chris” for his multitude of sports jerseys, shortly after December’s MSPT finale at Canterbury Park. It was there, with 27 players remaining, that everyone was guaranteed 200 POY points. At the time, Meyers sat atop the leaderboard with 3,350, and given he was still in contention, it meant his total would be at least 3,550 points.
No other player in the field could catch him, so he locked up POY honors and accompanying $10K prize package even before he busted in 15th place for $5,721 and 400 POY.
“It was bittersweet,” said Meyers. “I came into the tournament wanting to win that tournament. I couldn’t think of the POY. I was really disappointed to bust, but a couple days later the accomplishment of winning the Player of the Year sunk in. I’m glad it came down to the wire with Keith Heine and some other guys. Competition is great.”
In Season 8, Meyers had three cashes coming into the final stop. In May, he placed fifth out of 1,066 entries – then a Michigan state record – in the MSPT FireKeepers for $42,333. Five months later, he returned to the venue and topped a record field of 1,067 entries to win the 2017 MSPT Michigan State Poker Championship for $191,196. His third cash, which was $2,375 for finishing in 62nd place, came in the 2017 MSPT Wisconsin State Poker Championship at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino.
Long Road to Winning
Growing up, Meyers learned to play poker with friends. Around the time the “Poker Boom” hit, Meyers discovered online poker and before long, he ran up a respectable bankroll. However, he soon experienced the roller-coaster ride that is poker. Those highs and lows, coupled with some consequences catching up to him, saw Meyers’ life take an unexpected turn.
“I had a troubled childhood you could say,” says Meyers. “I was in some detention homes, definitely not close to the life I live now. I got in trouble with the law, and ended up going to jail for a year and a half. When I got home, all I had was $5,000 in my PokerStars account. The life I lived before was behind me – I’m never going back to that – but poker was still there.”
Upon his release around 2009, Meyers turned his life around. He stopped flirting with the law, married his longtime girlfriend, and decided to take poker more seriously. He grinded out a living, but then April 15, 2011 hit.
“I was a winning player for a while online,” says Meyers. “I had my up and downs, and then Black Friday happened. I started playing live, but had to go find work. I got back to it seriously again in 2013.”
Adapting to Live Play
Living just a short drive from the Canadian border, Meyers contemplated heading north to continue his online endeavors. However, given Canada’s strict crossing requirements and his checkered past, he thought better of it.
Instead, he decided to turn his attention to live cash games. In 2016, he added tournaments to his schedule and wound up making $174,059, including the $28,396 in the aforementioned $500 event at Turning Stone.
Reinvigorated, Meyers hit 2017 hard. In addition to what he did on the MSPT, he also finished fifth in the Hollywood Poker Open Columbus Main Event for $17,480, won the Seneca Niagara Fall Poker Classic Event 37: $300 Pot-Limit Omaha for $5,639, and placed 290th out of 18,054 entries in the World Series of Poker Colossus III for $4,418.
All told, Meyers won a career-high $508,463 playing tournament poker in 2017, although he hopes to beat that this year. He plans on playing a full schedule at the 2018 WSOP, including some $10K and $25Ks thanks to investors, and will be at most MSPT stops thanks to the POY prize package he won.
For winning the Kimo Sabe Mezcal MSPT Season 8 Player of the Year, Meyers will be awarded four MSPT Main Event Season 9 seats ($4,400 value) to be used at events of his choosing, a seat into the MSPT Venetian summer event with $400 toward travel costs ($1,500 value), and $250 at each Main Event stop he attends up to $4,250.
“I think it’s possible to be the first back-to-back MSPT POY if I play all the events,” he said. “Right now, I’m planning to play them all with the exception of maybe Black Hawk, Colorado. Winning it again is going to be a goal of mine.”
Keys to Success
When asked what factors have allowed him to find success, Meyers snaps off three – God, healthy living, and his wife.
“The foundation of my life, any accomplishment, any success including the POY, is a direct result of my relationship with Jesus Christs and my foundation of the Bible and church,” said Meyers. “Everything comes from that. It’s by the grace of God I’m where I’m at considering the mistakes I’ve made in my life and that I have the opportunity to play poker professionally.”
As for healthy living, for Meyers it’s both mental and physical.
“The biggest difference between poker for me now and then is the mental game,” he offered. “That’s led to me developing so much more discipline in my life in general, including poker. I was just playing too long and making poor decisions.”
He continued: “Being healthy starts with discipline and good habits. I need that, I need structure in my life, and it directly contributes to my poker success. Healthy living in number two for any success that I have.”
Finally, Meyers admitted he couldn’t have done it without his loving wife, who is often the one to provide him that much-needed structure.
“I’ve always been the risk taker and she’s always been the responsible one,” he said of his wife, a bank manager who shies away from playing poker. “She’s proud of me in a quiet way. She’s very conservative. She keeps me in check, she doesn’t want me to get a big head. It’s great because I need that.”
As for the MSPT stop he’s most looking forward to in Season 9, that’s easy.
“There’s something about that place,” he said with a smile. “I felt something special about FireKeepers the first time I went there. It felt like a good one. That place has been great to me. Things just sort of work out sometimes. It’s kind of surreal to be honest.”
You can follow Meyers on his newly-created Twitter account @JerZ716.