Poker Prodigy

Marple Township’s Jordan Berkowitz drives an $85,000 BMW, wears a Tag Heuer wristwatch, and is one of the most successful online poker players in the world. Not bad for a kid who still lives with his mom

Jordan claims that he hasn’t read Doyle Brunson’s Super System, the holy book of no-limit poker, but “Betting is awesome” captures its core teachings in a nutshell. Don’t play too many hands, Brunson says, but when you do play a hand, be the bully. What no one will tell you is which hands to play, particularly when you’re unable to look your online opponents in the eye. Yet Jordan always seems to know the hand he’s up against, piecing it together from the size of his opponents’ bets and the time they take to act. His ability to take these scraps of data and guess his opponents’ cards is almost clairvoyant. Unlike many online poker pros, Jordan doesn’t usually take notes on his opponents or run special software to log their betting patterns, or even keep records of his own wins and losses.

“I guess you could say I’m lazy,” he says, “But really I just use my head, and usually it works out pretty good.”

With a working poker bankroll of nearly $1 million, Jordan estimates he’s spent another $300,000 on trips, cars, clothes, sneakers, jewelry, Louis Vuitton luggage and sports bets. He’s already established a reputation as a high roller at the Wyndham Crystal Palace in the Bahamas, where he dropped $55,000 at blackjack this summer on a junket with his then-girlfriend, Shannon, and two other couples.

Jordan discovered gambling early in life. Jay would take Jordan and Pagona on frequent cruises in the Caribbean and indulge in a little blackjack. At 13, Jordan was already begging to try the slots, so Jay dropped three $1 tokens in a Triple Diamond machine and pulled the handle to teach the kid a lesson, which was interrupted by Jordan’s cry: “Dad, Dad, they’re all the same!”

Jay turned around and read the reels: Diamond, diamond, diamond. The payout was 40 $100 bills. Jay took them back to the family’s suite and threw them around like confetti. The kid was hooked.