When he was 13 years old, Pratyush Buddiga won $12,000 in the 2002 National Spelling Bee. At the age of 16, he won the AAA Travel High School Challenge. He started playing professional poker whilst an undergrad at Duke. Now the 29-year-old has set his sights on the crypto world. (See also: The Worst Bets You Can Make At A Casino).

In an interview with Yahoo Finance, Buddiga said he was looking for investments to park his winnings from the card game. He hasn’t disclosed the exact nature or form that his investment but indicated he might work in a fund or start one of his own. (See also: Cryptocurrency Hedge Funds On The Rise). While the exact amount of his winnings is still under debate, there is no doubt that it is considerable. By 2013, two years after graduating from Duke University, Buddiga had lifetime earnings of $300,000. By 2015, he’d earned $3.2 million. According to Card Player, his estimated lifetime earnings are $6.4 million.

A Circuitous Route To Crypto

Buddiga’s route to crypto has been unconventional.

Winning the national championships was a seminal moment for Buddiga. It instigated a competitive streak in the otherwise mild-mannered scholar. In fact, it was the lure of competition, rather than money, that attracted him to Poker. “For a lot of people, they have the gambling instinct or [like] the prestige or the glamour. But for me, it was just like, ‘OK, this is a competition,’” he said.

It also taught him the value of hard work. “The idea that helped me is that I could be the best at something if I worked hard at it,” he told The Washington Post. “That’s something the spelling bee has done for me throughout my life. No matter what I do I could look back and say, ‘Okay, I was the best in the country at something, I can do it again.”

After realizing that he was not interested in finance, Buddiga changed tracks to poker which he’d learned during a school-sponsored trip to New York. He turned pro after graduating from college and hasn’t looked back. His biggest winning was $1 million in June last year at the 2017 Super High Roller Bowl.

Buddiga is not a novice to cryptocurrencies. A glance through his Twitter feed shows his efforts to educate and opine about the technology. With its discussions that mix computer science with economics and finance, cryptocurrencies can be a daunting area of learning. But Buddiga remains unfazed. He told Yahoo! that he loves learning about new topics and enjoyed the feeling of going from “the 20th percentile in something to the 99th percentile.”


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