Breaking Josh Brikis: Poker Pro Leaves Game Behind to Focus on Family and Business

There was a time when Pennsylvania’s Josh Brikis was considered one of the best guns in poker. By 2006 to 2015, Brikis won $1,584,725 playing tournaments, but he gave playing up to concentrate on family and a sports card company.

Josh Brikis was one of the most feared young guns of poker, in playing cards for trading soccer 26, but he is traded. (Picture: WSOP)

His story is one that isn’t unique in poker, but perhaps is somewhat uncommon. It is not often a participant that is successful steps away from the sport. But when Brikis did just that, he found a fulfilling life, and a game that didn’t necessarily resign from him.

Family Pots

Brikis lives in Pennsylvania (the latest state to legalize online gambling). And after grinding for a few years, he actually broke onto the poker scene in 2009 when he ended in the 2009 World Series of Poker $ Event for a career-high $619,608.

The next year, he made a deep run finishing in two months, and 55th for $ 138,285 after that won a Borgata Poker Open $ 1,650 NLHE event for $ 119,034. Those round out the top three scores of his career. Throughout it all, his winning personality built up a fan base that was growing.

But life on the mill over the next five years took its toll and he started transitioning away from poker, when his son was born. All the travel combined with the pressure of having a job with no guaranteed income, did not fit with starting a family as he put it.

Eventually he made the choice to resign from the game, following in the footsteps of bracelet winner Matt Jarvis, who left poker to begin his own Shack Shine business. Coincidentally, Jarvis and Brikis battled it out on the felt of the aforementioned 2010 WSOP Main Event.

From Playing Cards to Trading Cards

Josh Brikis with his son Brayden. (Picture: Josh Brikis)

CardsChat recently spoke with Brikis about leaving supporting poker to begin his own business.

CardsChat: Would you tell me a bit?

Josh Brikis: I was born into it. My father grew up collecting like so many did and he was fortunate that his mother did not throw them out in the garbage. Every year for Christmas, I would get boxes of cards to open. It turned into a fun hobby that was very at a young age.

I strayed from it but would still go with my father to the National Card Show every year. It has always been an enjoyable pastime for my father and a bonding thing and I to do.

CC: Tell us a little about what “breaking” is and how you got into it?

A buddy of mine got me into it about three decades back. Basically, a whole lot of people pitch in money to buy and open a case from a company such as Topps, Panini, Upper Deck, Leaf, etc..

A case of cards might have 12 boxes, each box may cost. We break down the product by teams and their team can be chosen by each person. Once the teams sell we open the product. This way the whole case is compensated for, and because you are pitching in with others, you get all of your team’s cards from a whole case of 12 boxes instead of you purchasing a box in the store for $100 rather than having a shot in the rest of the case because $1,200 is lots of money.

Josh Brikis with baseball legend Rickey Henderson. (Picture: Josh Brikis)

And there is a social aspect to it, too?

The fun part comes in when we get ready to perform the “break.” We’ve got a video and individuals chat as I open the case. The video gets uploaded after the break so there’s never a concern on missing it.

I have. Due to the action, it contrasts to poker in certain ways. The chances can break down and compare the risk/reward for the teams’ purchase price.

Return to Poker?

CC: This summer you returned to the WSOP. Did it feel good to be back at the tables?

Josh Brikis: I always said I would never overlook the Main Event. But in 2016 my sister was due with her first kid on Day 1 of the Main, and I did not feel comfortable scheduling a trip and being out there.

So yes, I have not played since 2015 and I did decide to go out this year. I just played with the Main Event. It was really strange just all the memories of everything from 2009-2015 that were in my head. The one thing I realized was that I did not miss doing it and that I made the right choice and it was enjoyable, although I had a good time.

CC: What role does poker play in your life?

Poker and I have not played with at all. I am either with my son or caring for my home and business. I just don’t have any desire to go sit down for a game once I have the free time to do it, I would rather be doing something else.

If I can make the larger tournaments that are local here in my backyard but other than that, I don’t plan on playing poker much anymore.

CC: What advice, if any, do you have to any poker like grinders who are considering doing something else and might be worn out starting their own business?

You know, if that is what they need to do, I hate to tell anyone to not play poker for a living, but I would never suggest it. Playing poker makes a good deal of people miserable a whole lot of the time. I feel different days than I did playing poker.

Not to talk down on it of course, but there’s a good deal more to life than poker and so I would say go after something you like and give it a shot and get out there. You gave a shot to poker so you must be a risk taker.

For more on Brikis, you can follow him on Twitter @JBrikis and take a look at his website

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