Today we’d like to introduce you to Bryan Blase.
Bryan, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
While bartending at The Vortex in Midtown in 2003, I had some customers ask to change the channel to the World Series of Poker. It was the first year they used cameras in the tables so you could see the player’s cards. As I watched, I thought this is something I could do. I asked the customers lots of questions and figured it out pretty quickly. Someone started a weekly bar game and I was hooked. I was reading all the books I could get my hands on, watching hours and hours of past and present poker footage and started a weekly home game. I was playing about ten games a week and numerous hours online back when it was legal. I was making decent money without taking much risk, playing mostly tournaments with modest buy-ins. Freeroll Atlanta started in 2005, and I played every game, luckily my girlfriend at the time worked nights so it wasn’t an issue. Daniel Stabler and John Carol started the league 16 years ago and kept it reasonably small. Later I moved to Korea and Vietnam to teach English and of course, search out any back alley poker game I could find.
After five years, I came back to Atlanta and taught English at a small school in Midtown Atlanta. Daniel, then the sole owner of Freeroll Atlanta, asked me to run some of his games, so I did that along with teaching. I started teaching at 8 am until three at my day job, then drove to Marietta to prepare and teach another two and a half hour class, then hurry back to Atlanta to run a tournament until 12 or 1 am I ran tournaments in Little Five Points, Midtown, Virginia Highlands and East Atlanta Village. While running these games, I kept saying to myself. I wish I could do this for a living! So I saved everything I could while living in a small studio apartment in Little Five Points. I noticed Daniel was getting busier with his other job, so I asked what it would cost to take this over? He said, let’s meet next week and give me a number. I ran some calculations and gave him my offer and he accepted. I’ve been playing with the league since its inception and have been running the games for about five years and have owned the league for two years. I’m running games every day now and looking to add new games all the time.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
Read the full interview in VoyageATL Magazine.