Meet Founder & CEO, Tom Wheaton

Full-Time Dad & Husband | Part-Time Poker Player | Sales & Marketing Leader | Founder & CEO of Faded Spade

Faded Spade Poker was born from a Dream.  A Dream that turned into Action.  An Action that turned into a Brand.  A Brand that turned into a Product.  A Product that turned into a Business.  A Business that was formed out of Pure Poker Passion.  I hope that you join us as each chapter of the Faded Spade Poker Story is written.

For the last 15 years, my primary passion in life outside of family and friendships has been Poker.  Like many of you, I was a product of the first poker boom and was hooked after winning the first home poker tournament that I ever played.

It was pure luck.  I wish I could tell you that I was a natural poker prodigy. But the strong passion that I felt for the game turned me into a student of the game.  As a recreational player, I studied Doyle Brunson’s ‘Super System’ book.  And then devoured Phil Helmuth’s ‘Play Poker like the Pros’ book.  The movie Rounders was watched at least a hundred times.

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It wasn’t long before I had consistent success at the local Orlando home games and small buy-in tournaments in Las Vegas and Atlantic City.  As my play matured, I became less of a tournament player and was drawn toward live-action cash games. That would be the shift from casual, recreational player to a consistent, part-time amateur player.

I remember the first legit cash game that I ever played. It was at the Mirage.  My hands were shaking as I sat down. The sharks were licking their jaws because it was clear that I was a first-time fish. I lost two buy-ins that night, and learned to never blow your stack in an unraised pot. Oddly, I walked away from the Mirage with a quiet confidence about developing skills in the game of NL Holdem poker.  From that point, I honed my craft as a part-time cash game player on nights and weekends. I played online too but it wasn’t the same. To me, Poker is more psychological than mathematical.  The ability to see, hear and feel the game at a live table is poker in its purest form.

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At that time, I didn’t have the guts or bankroll to completely dive-in as a professional poker player.  I was climbing the corporate ladder and content with the ride.  I stuck with 1/2 NL for a while and splashed around at 2/5 NL from time to time.  The passion grew, as did my skill level, and 2/5 NL became my sacred ground.  It was then that I developed Faded Spade Poker in my mind, and built the foundation for it to one day be a brand.  It wouldn’t be until the unforeseeable future that I acted upon the dream.

Years later, my consistent poker playing days faded away.  As a growing sales and marketing leader - and a newly married man with the best wife and children on the planet – my priorities had changed.  And my once five-figure bankroll had been spent on everything from strollers to toy soldiers.  It was important to me that I was a present, engaged Dad on nights and weekends.  And eight-hour poker sessions just didn’t align with family and career priorities anymore.

Don’t get me wrong, I still hit the felt when the opportunity presented itself.  And each time, my passion and purpose for the game sizzled like a three-round heater.  During a business trip to Las Vegas, I decided to put work aside one night and carve out a few hours for poker.  While playing, I started listening to an audiobook by Gary Vaynerchuck called, ‘Crush It.’  My wife heard him speak at a conference earlier that year and recommended that I listen to his book during the trip.

My wife knew that I had a deep desire to own my own business.  The key was aligning business purpose with a true personal passion.  It was that session, playing 2/5 NL at Aria around 2:00 am, that I decided to go all-in on Faded Spade Poker.  My wife Devon, and Gary Vaynerchuck (whom I’ve never met), were my inspiration to stop thinking and start doing.

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Today, due to relentless business grinding, Faded Spade is a new brand. And we’re becoming a deeper part of the poker community every day thanks to a few divine connections. Especially industry mentor David Gitter, who took time to introduce me to the industry in ways that I never expected, but greatly appreciated.  

Faded Spade has even allowed me to get back into playing poker more regularly.  It’s called Market Research! I’m not a poker superstar by any means…just a 2/5 NL player who has a fluctuating $25 an hour win rate over the last 15 years. As the bankroll grows, I’ll likely test my skill at higher cash game limits.  A complete re-focus on tournament strategy is probably in the cards as well.  As a Dad, Husband, Sales & Marketing Leader, Poker Player and Business Owner the goal is constant personal and professional growth.

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Like many of you reading this article, I obsess about strategy and making good decisions. And it's painful when bad poker is rewarded. I’ve had to learn to say good hand after a bad beat and move on to the next hand.  I love feeling the cards and chips in my hands; hearing the rush of the poker room while participating in table talk; seeing the tells of my opponents and wondering if my reads are right.  And is there any better feeling then taking the best possible line every street to maximize your winnings or minimize your losses?  Sure, when your opponent shows the exact cards you thought they had as you’re raking in the chips.

I’m not an expert, but if I could impart any wisdom to recreational or amateur poker players like me across the globe it’s this: 

Always have the confidence and conviction that you’re the best player at the table.  Poker is a game of competitive psychology and self-awareness. And it starts with your state of mind about yourself and your play every day.  Work to be the Best.  Learn from your Leaks. Be a Student of the Game.  Apply Sound Bankroll Management.  Keep Your Emotions in Check.  And Get a Faded Spade Poker Playing Card Set!

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I believe those key things are what sets apart the best from the rest. And the same is true in life or business. Your mindset and ability to dream big, while acting upon those dreams, is what will turn your dreams into reality.  If you have a vision for your future - no matter what your passion - take action. It’s amazing how a few baby steps, can turn into larger steps, that turn into leaps of faith.  Trust in God.  Trust in Yourself. Trust in the Dream that God put inside You.  And go frickin get it! 

- Tom