Mike Isaac

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Twitter Employee Live-Tweets His World Series of Poker Ascent, One Hand at a Time

Twitter engineer Ian Chan is on a hot streak.

No, not at his job (at least, not that I know of). He’s kicking butt and taking names in a poker tournament with big money at stake: As of 10 pm PT, Chan is ranked in the top five players out of the 3,000-plus people who entered the game.

How do I know all of this? He’s live-tweeting the whole thing.

I’m not watching him alone. Many of his colleagues at Twitter — Director of Platform Ryan Sarver, monetization chief Adam Bain, sports and entertainment head Omid Ashtari — are cheering Chan along in the appropriate manner: Via Twitter, of course.

The annual World Series of Poker event, now in its 43rd go-round, is considered one of the premier competitive poker tournaments in the U.S., where both pro and amateur players compete for a pot worth nearly $3 million. The buy-in is a steep $1,000, but it only takes fighting to make it into the top 324 players to come out ahead: The lowest amount of money a player can take home once they reach the money is nearly two grand, while first place takes home a cool half-million dollars.

Chan is in the Top 5 on the leaderboard as of this writing, with a little more than 50 players remaining. That guarantees that even if he comes in last place, Chan will walk away with at least eight grand. Right now, if he took fourth (where he’s currently ranked), Chan would take home more than $150,000.

Chan isn’t the first Valley-ite to take the hot seat at the WSOP, though he has probably done the best: Former Facebook exec Chamath Palihapitiya took 101st place last year.

It’s already late, and despite the blinds rising fast, I don’t see this game ending before midnight. But, as Chan notes in a tweet, he probably won’t be able to call in sick tomorrow, given that much of Twitter — including his boss, CEO Dick Costolo — is watching him compete via his tweets.

I’m rooting for the guy myself — let’s just hope he doesn’t tip his hand to his competitors via Twitter.

Teensy update, 10:25 pm PT:: Platform chief Ryan Sarver lets me know that Chan’s hot streak isn’t limited to his poker cards — Chan was also in part responsible for Twitter’s cards, as well. Touche, Ryan. Touche.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work