01/11/2017 1:41PM

Dresch qualifies for NHC on the river

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Jeremy Dresch is no stranger to tournaments. The 42-year-old semipro poker player has managed dozens of cashes in poker tournaments across the country and has several important wins to his name as well. Overall he has cashed for north of $660,000.

No-Limit Hold’em may be his game of choice, but he’s started playing a new game: handicapping tournaments. He played in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge online from home. Now he’s headed to the National Handicapping Championship for the first time after winning Saturday’s NHCQ event on DRF Tournaments outright.

“I’ve been into the horse racing game for 20 plus years,” he said. “I mainly have been a chase-the-carryover pick six player, always going for the big score. I've had many mid-five-figure scores but never the six- or seven-figure score you shoot for.”

Dresch will try to correct that at the NHC in a couple of weeks. He’s involved in racing on another level as well – he’s also an owner. He has horses with Karl Broberg.

He got in racing tournaments sideways. He and his girlfriend live in Minnesota, where they also own a gas station. They played in a couple of on-site events at Canterbury this summer. “She shipped an NHC seat,” he said, using a bit of poker slang for a big win, “so as we got closer to the event, I figured I would set up an account on DRF Tournaments and try to join her.”

He may be new to the game, but his overall tournament experience marks him as a player to watch. “I haven't played many tournaments,” he said. “Other than the BCBC, this was my first online contest. I guess I had some beginner's luck.”

While he’ll be relatively young compared to the overall NHC demographic, Dresch’s approach to picking winners is timeless. “I'm an old-school handicapper,” he explained. “I sit down with my Daily Racing Form and a pen and I put in the work.”

His performance on Saturday was impressive. He picked seven winners in 12 races and managed an additional place cash. “It went pretty smooth for me,” he said.

The key moment in the qualifier was the anchor leg. He was tied for third but the top four were all within a few dollars. Throughout the day, he had eschewed favorites, generally preferring the type of mid-priced runners a lot of tournament like to play in mythical online events. In that spot, however, tournament logic dictated at least strongly considering the chalk. When it gets down to the nitty gritty, points are points. And with three seats available he knew he was playing the percentages.

He vacillated between class dropping No. 13 Texas Two Step, 8-5 at the time, and No. 1 Boone Docks, 9-2 as he was making a decision. He went with the 13, nervous he’d made the wrong choice, but Texas Two Step, bet down to 6-5, came through, blowing up the speed on the turn and holding off a late challenge from Boone Docks. “None of the other three players in the top four used either horse, so I would have gotten in either way,” he said.

At the end of the day, the racing tournament world officially had a new convert. “It’s a pretty exciting feeling when you know you have secured the seat,” he reported. “I really like tournaments and will try to play more in the future.”