Kyle Cartwright graduated from Bartlett High School in 2006, paid his own way through college, and graduated from the University of Memphis with a degree in finance. Before that, however, Cartwright went fishing with a friend when he was 12 or 13 years old and his friend’s father taught the young men to play poker. Now at 24, his chosen career recently landed him a whopping $107,000 in one lump sum. His chosen career is competitive poker playing and he is pretty good at it.
“Poker has just always been a part of my life. I started playing early as a child and never stopped playing. I was instantly hooked the day I was taught how to play,” said Nance.
Since his first hand, played on that fateful fishing trip, Cartwright says that he has always had confidence that he could play with the best in the world. Winning his 2nd live tournament that he entered and then also his 4th didn’t hurt that confidence in the least. In these two tournaments Nance won about $55,000 in a matter of a week, which boosted his confidence to an all-time high. At that point Cartwright knew he could play with the best, but he wanted to prove it.
Always having been a competitive person, Cartwright played sports in school and always strived to be the best at whatever he was doing. Poker was no different. There are always improvements that can be made in the game.
“I love hearing criticism from other skilled players about what I could or should have done differently,” said Cartwright. “It makes me a better player.”
Cartwright said that he started playing online like the majority of young players. He was working while playing and could make his paycheck in a single hand, eventually turning to poker full time. Poker paid for his college tuition, car and all other expenses. At this point, Cartwright knew he had a talent as soon as he was able to not have to ask for money from his parents and could live on his own comfortably.
Cartwright said that his favorite type of poker game is Texas Hold’em simply because he has had the most success with this type of game and it has been his best-played game. His future plans are to continue playing poker for the rest of his life. He says that making his own hours and doing mostly whatever he wants to do when he wants to do it is very enticing in any career.
Skill is needed to play poker. Luck never hurts.
“Without a doubt, my luckiest hand was in the St. Louis Main Event last year when I called an all-in with a king/queen and the player had ace/ace,” said Cartwright. “The flop came queen/four/four so I only had 2 cards left in the entire deck that I could catch to win barring no other player folded a queen. Well, the river came a queen and I ended up winning the tournament for $149,000.”
Cartwright has played about 150 tournaments in his life, traveling as far as Las Vegas. The St. Louis Main Event was his highest win, but it is not all winning. A professional poker player must take some loss. This year in the Main Event at the WSOP, Cartwright bought in for $10,000 and went home with nothing. He was in Las Vegas for 42 days this summer and played with basically every big name out there, but the one player that he would like to play with is Phil Ivey. Cartwright says that he has yet to play with Ivey and would love to study his game in order to improve his own game.
Cartwright was gracious when asked to share his tricks with aspiring professional poker players, saying “I just try to stay patient at all times. If I get low on chips, I don’t panic. I stay calm and try to find the best spot I can get in order to double up. I also always work on my game and if I have a question about a hand, I know some of the best poker players in the world that can help me improve.”