Wednesday, 05 October 2022 09:58

How Magic: The Gathering Upped the Ante for Bryn Kenney

Written by Dylan Harvey, Contributor
Poker player Bryn Kenny. Poker player Bryn Kenny. WORLD POKER TOUR under License CC BY 3.0. Aesthetic and formatting changes were made to the image.

Over the decades, Magic: The Gathering has amassed millions of fans from all walks of life. Recently in June 2022, rapper Post Malone even made headlines after he officially became the player who spent the most money on a single Magic card in the game’s history. A signed Black Lotus artist print, the rare card was purchased by Malone for $800,000.

Now, granted, not every celebrity fan spends the same as the rapper. But certainly, over the years, many have been equally influential in boosting the game to prominence.

One of these high-profile fans is none other than the poker pro Bryn Kenney.

Who Is Bryn Kenney?

Born in Long Beach, New York, on November 1, 1986, Bryn Kenney is one of the contemporary poker world’s most successful players. A bold and candid player, Kenney made a mark on the poker circuit thanks to his uninhibited New York swagger and high-roller wins. Considered a shoo-in for the Poker Hall of Fame when he becomes of age in 2026, Kenney currently holds the record for the all-time winningest live tournament player. To date, he has a World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet and a net worth of around $55 million.

Kenney’s Magic History

Although Kenney has made his name and fortune through poker, he credits the development of his interest in card games to Magic: The Gathering. Kenney told BarDown that he was introduced to the game during a family picnic. Aged only 12 at the time, Kenney says one of his cousins at the picnic owned a card store and sold him a starter deck. From there, the young Kenney became hooked and quickly developed a love for the strategy of the game.

Kenney soon began devoting house to the game and began playing competitively. By age 14, Kenney was ranked first globally among all Magic players aged 15 and under. According to Kenney, his talent at Magic stemmed from his naturally sharp memory and early exposure to card games. After all, Kenney says that his formative years included playing memory games with baseball cards with his parents, siblings, and grandmother.

As is the case for many going through puberty, though, Kenney soon found his interests changing. As he entered high school, the Magic player found his interest in the game waning. Fortunately for Kenney, though, he still maintained his presence within Magic circles. As fate would have it, it was through his connections that he was made aware of many Magic players transitioning to poker.

How Magic Lead to Poker Success

In 2004, although Kenney had dialed back his active participation in Magic: The Gathering, he was still very much aware of what other players were up to. At the time, there was much buzz around players like Bertrand “Elky” Grospellier and David Williams, who were now making waves on the felt. After Williams won second in the WSOP Main Event (which saw him take home $3.5 million), many Magic players like Kenney were inspired to take the same route.

Soon after this, Kenney transitioned to poker. In 2007, he made his first live cash and his first WSOP bracelet just seven years later. Since then, Kenney has continuously made a splash (both good and bad) in the competitive card game scene.

Recently, he was embroiled in a cult-like cheating scheme. In interviews with poker vet Sarah Herring, Kenney vehemently denies these claims. On the other hand, Kenney has also been praised for his unyielding poker prowess. As of 2020, despite slowing down on his WSOP grind, his live tournament winnings have surpassed $55 million.

In closing, while Kenney may no longer be as active in Magic as he used to be, his impact and appreciation for the game are undeniable. Thanks to Kenney, millions more people were (and continue to be) introduced to Magic: The Gathering. While Kenney has fully devoted himself to poker, there’s no denying he wouldn’t be where he is without Magic.