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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA prof and poker rookie Mitch Towner wins Monster Stack in Vegas

Courtesy Nicolas Adamakis

UA finance professor Mitch Towner (center) poses for a photo with Nick Adamakis (right), Clyne Namuo (left) and a fan (back center) with Towner’s winnings during the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, Nevada. Towner won over $1 million in the Monster Stack No-Limit Hold’em tournament.

UA Finance assistant professor Mitch Towner won over a million dollars playing in the 2016 World Series of Poker’s Monster Stack No-Limit Hold’em tournament in Las Vegas last week.

“We watched for an hour and a half witnessing, and it was just amazing,” said Nicolas Adamakis, former associate director of the Arizona Student Unions, who was in the crowd chanting UA as Towner won in Las Vegas.

Adamakis said it was a happy coincidence he got to watch Towner play and thinks that everything aligned for him that day.

“It’s more about the card play and challenging yourself and thinking specifically about different things,” Towner said. “A lot of people play poker for the money. That’s never really been my intention.”

READ: UA Professor and Student on Bike Listening Tour

Towner is a native of Salt Lake City and received his Ph.D. in finance from the University of Texas at Austin.

Although he’s been playing poker since he was 16, Towner said he only travels up to Las Vegas about once a year to play poker.

The professor said he has never played poker in a serious manner because he never really had time for it, but the game always interested him, regardless.

“I’ve always played a lot of card games and that was how I got interested in poker,” Towner said. “I studied math and economics, and these subjects pretty much use a similar part of the brain — very analytical and probability-oriented, which is sort of how I think about stuff.”

The tournament, which had over 6,927 entrants, accumulated a prize pool totaling $9,351,450, allowing the top 1,040 finishers to collect prize money, reported.

Towner knew when to fold and when to hold, which ultimately allowed him to take home $1,120,196 in winnings.

“I mean, it’s pretty life changing,” Towner said. “It’s gonna be helpful to pay off some loans that I had for grad school. My body is still feeling it a couple days later — I don’t think its fully registered.”

Towner, who has worked at the university for a little over a year teaching an investment class, said everyone has been nothing but positive about his success.

“It’s not all that surprising — he’s got a map for doing this sort of thing,” said Aazam Virani, an assistant professor of finance who has conducted research with Towner.

Virani doesn’t think Towner’s personality will change because of the win, though.

“Mitch is very down to earth so I don’t know if this is going to change his attitude,” Virani said. “I just saw him today and it seems like the same old Mitch to me. I’m just happy I don’t have to buy lunches anymore.”

Follow Angela Martinez on Twitter. 

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