Erik Seidel is an American professional player that was born in New York City in 1959. Somewhat of a child prodigy, Seidel competed on the game show "To Tell The Truth" at the age of twelve. He enjoyed games of many kinds and soon found his niche playing backgammon with friends.
He was studious throughout high school and went to college at a local school in New York, Brooklyn College. He played backgammon for high stakes while in school and was also an avid bridge player. However, poker began to become more and more popular in the early 80s, and Seidel was intrigued by the game.
While he was still in school, he began playing poker at the famed Mayfair Club in New York City, a gambling house that, at the time was filled with many future poker professionals, such as Howard Lederer, Steve Zolotov and Dan Harrington.
After finishing college, Seidel headed to for a job on Wall Street, but was still a frequent player at the Mayfair Club after his day job. In 1987, the stock market crashed, and he lost his job. Instead of going back into Wall Street or the business world, Seidel decided to play full time at the Mayfair Club. Seidel did exceptionally well at the Mayfair Club but had bigger dreams of Vegas.
He travelled to Las Vegas in 1988 to compete in the World Series of Poker. In a scene famous from the movie "Rounders" starring Matt Damon and Edward Norton, Seidel famously loses the the 1988 No Limit Hold'Em Championship to Johnny Chan. Still, his second place prize brought him $280k in prize money, a huge amount for a poker tournament win in 1988.
Upon his World Series success, Seidel began playing in many other tournaments. He won the Diamond Brady Championships in 1988 for $144k and finished second in $5k Hold'Em Event at the World Series of Poker, winning $164k.
His first few wins began a long line of cashes that established the still lesser known Seidel as one of the greats. He has amassed eight WSOP bracelets and 33 final tables in his World Series career. He also is second in WSOP cashes with 70 in the money finishes, which is good for 2nd of all time. He has one World Poker Tour Title under his belt, and four final table finishes in WPT events.
Aside from his WSOP and WPT winnings, Seidel won the National Heads-Up Poker Championship in 2011 defeating Chris Moneymaker for $750k payout. He also took second in the now defunct Epic Poker League's inaugural event, winning just over $600k. Seidel is currently fifth in all time tournament winnings, with over $17.1 million.
Seidel prefers to stay out of the limelight and spends plenty of time with his wife and children. He is an avid fan of music and a tennis player. He was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2010.