Level 5 (200/400/400)
Total Entrants: 140

Tulsa native Matt Lawrence (pictured) is an accomplished professional player in both tournaments and cash games, including a WSOP Circuit ring and final table finishes at WPT, HPT, and WSOP events. But a couple years ago, Lawrence stepped back from grinding poker and took his life in a different direction. We caught up with him at break to find out what's new since we last saw him at a RunGood Poker Series event.

"I needed a better work-life balance," Matt says, "as cliche as that sounds." Matt worked very hard on his game and was almost obsessive about chasing his poker dreams. But he tells us the travel took a toll. "I love travelling, but more like every two to three months, not every week."

Lawrence took a break from the tournament grind and began investing in real estate. He invests in single family homes, which he then rents, "to avoid the capital gains tax." He's up to six properties, with more on the way. Along with the added equity to his balance sheet, real estate affords him a level of stability he often missed on the road.

In addition to the new career path, he's also developed a romantic side. He and long-time girlfriend Hard Rock poker dealer Mercedee seem to be a perfect fit. "I was really nervous about dating someone where I work," he admits. "But it was the best decision I ever made."

Lawrence is faring well in today's flight, with 47,000 chips at the first break. It seems some guys just can't lose.

Hard rock tulsaMain eventRungood poker series