You play the hand you're dealt, even when luck leaves the room. Adam Junglen understands that better than most and not just because he's racked up more than $1.5 million in career winnings playing poker.
Born with a clubfoot and a birth defect that took two fingers from his left hand and one from his right, Junglen spent his youth enduring painful operations. During his junior year at Stow High School, he opted for the amputation of his lower right leg to end the string of surgeries.
The decision meant his baseball days were over, but it marked the start of his poker career. "I immediately wanted to learn as much as I could," recalls Junglen, now 23. "I was really into putting all the pieces of the puzzle together."
As a teenager, he played online. The game appealed to Junglen's competitive and analytical natures, and he eventually became a phenom, scoring a $257,537 payday in a 2007 tournament in Barcelona. Those years of online and tournament play paid off in Las Vegas this July at the World Series of Poker. Junglen made two final tables in the span of a week, finishing fifth in each event. He then played his way into the money at the Main Event, where he appeared at the ESPN feature table. He finished 623rd overall in the tournament, which may not sound like much until you consider more than 6,800 players entered.
"You have to be crazy to think you can win it," Junglen says. "But I feel pretty comfortable I'll make the final table in the next couple of years."
Junglen's Vegas payday was more than $230,000, and he says he's smarter than he used to be when it comes to winning. "My first couple of big scores I spent the money too quickly," he says. "Now I'm pretty much of a minimalist. I celebrated by upgrading my MacBook."