For the last decade or so, a poker player named Dwyte Pilgrim has been working his way up to the top of the professional poker world–and he hasn’t been doing so quietly. Known for his Muhammad Ali-type chatter, Pilgrim has been not only been able to draw a crowd but a winning hand. In the process, he’s cashed in millions in tournaments.
Here are five things to know about Pilgrim.
Pilgrim, who hails from Brooklyn, NY, made his first big splash in 2008 when he recorded four wins totaling roughly $50,000, Poker News reported.
While he made an impressive debut in the poker world, he wasn’t always a player.
“I got started at work. I used to be a loan officer, and on Friday nights, the senior reps would play a nice game. From there, I played about three years online, then I moved to the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City for a year and Harrah’s for the next year playing cash,” Pilgrim told Poker News.
Quitting his job somewhere around 2006-2007, Pilgrim said he was confident he could make a career out of poker.
“I realized that I could be successful, but in March of 2009 is when I started traveling,” he recalled.
“I must be doing something right out there,” Pilgrim said in 2017 after making the Borgata Poker Open Final Table.
Pilgrim is never seen without three large, heavy gold rings. They are World Series of Poker Circuit (WSOP-C) rings, signifying wins.
Pilgrim made a dramatic entry at WSOP-C events in March 2009. His first ring came from winning a prelim event at Caesars Atlantic City for $83,955.
His second ring was from an event at Harrah’s Resort Southern California (formerly Rincon) event also in 2009 where he final-tabled one event before raking in the top prize in the Main Event for $125,775.
The Final Table is the last group of players in a tournament who can occupy a single table, usually nine players, or six in a 6-max tournament, according to Upswing Poker.
Still in 2009, Pilgrim managed to cash 11 more times and make five final tables, Poker News reported
“To cash” means to withdraw money from one’s account or have one’s chips converted into cash.
In January 2010, Pilgrim won two events at the Southern Poker Championship in Biloxi and came in second in another event. In February, he finally tabled the WSOP-C Main Event at Harrah’s Tunica and won the $1,500 event at the Foxwoods Mega Stack Challenge XV. He ran deep at North American Poker Tour Venetian.
To “run deep” applies specifically to tournaments and means that “a player has lasted a long period of time without busting out, perhaps even making the prize-pool or final table,” according to 888 Poker.
A few months later, Pilgrim made another final table at the Chicago Poker Classic in March 2010 and then won his third gold WSOP-C ring at Rincon.
Pilgrim said he gets a thrill out of playing poker.
“I love the recognition, but nothing came easy. I worked seven years to get where I’m at now, and I still feel I’m the best, just not promoted right. But as long as you’re playing well, there’s also pressure,” he told Poker News in 2010. “You’re being watched even harder, and your mistakes are magnified, so I’m just trying to make my next move my best move. This is chess, not checkers.”
In 2015, Pilgrim was accused of owing money to another player, Aaron Massey, who went public with the accusations. It caused a scandal on the professional poker circuit. It was not taken lightly.
“Few things are more valuable to a professional poker player than a solid reputation. Talented players are known to be honest, upfront, and seemingly always have a stake. Even if they go broke, someone will lend a hand more often than not,” reported Poker News. Poker can be an expensive game and it is not uncommon for players to lend one another money for the opening stakes.
A stake is the amount of a player’s “buy-in,” or the amount of money the player wants to play within a given session.
Some pegged Pilgrim as a swindler, something Pilgrim denied.
Poker pro-Massey called out World Poker Tour Borgata Poker Open champion Pilgrim, charging that Pilgrim defaulted on a loan and refused to pay it back. Then, Massey claimed others had the same experience with Pilgrim.
Year after year, Pilgrim has racked up wins and it seems for him some mean more than others.
In 2010, he was reported to be “overcome with joy” after he won WPT Borgata.
“It was a roller coaster,” Pilgrim said to the WPT after his win. “A lot of ups and downs. In a game where you are only going to cash 12 or 13 percent, maybe 14 percent if you’re a good player, it means you are going to lose 86 percent of the time. So, most of the time, we’re down, and when you get big wins like this, you’ve got to let it out.”
Pilgrim took home $733,802 for winning the $3,500 buy-in event and it pushed his tournament winnings for 2010 up to $1.1 million, ESPN reported.
Most recently, in January 2022 at a WPT event he won a $3,438,600 prize pool. (See the video below at starting at the nine-minute mark.) Pilgrim’s banter was boisterous, but when he won, he dropped to the floor and cried.
Photo: YouTube Screenshot, https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=bJznvaFNIBY&feature=emb_logo
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