Terry Fan: How He Went From Poor and Overweight to a Poker Stud

In 2005, Terry Fan was fatefully introduced to poker by a college dormmate and began playing recreationally. After discovering that he could play online, he took his mother’s credit card and deposited $100. In a stroke of luck, he finished 4th in a major online tournament and made $14,000. That was the start of Fan’s poker career.

Within less than a year, Fan was already using his poker winnings to fund his college tuition and eventually turned pro in 2009.

“I would make up to $5,000 – $7,000 sometimes in a day, but there were times when I would lose as well. The most I’ve ever lost was probably $10,000 in a single session.”

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However, as more people got into poker, the competition rapidly grew and Fan saw himself falling behind. He refused to admit that the game had grown a lot tougher and attributed his lack of results to bad luck.

“When I found early success in poker, I thought I could easily make money with just a few button clicks. It didn’t last for more than three years and then reality hit me in the face. I started to realize the competition got a lot tougher due to the existence of a lot of online poker training sites. At the time I still blamed my failure on bad luck. I complained, felt jealous of other people’s success and had an ego.”

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By 2012, the long hours of sitting down at a computer and constantly eating unhealthy foods had taken a toll on his body. Fan was overweight at 231 pounds and struggling financially. He planned to quit poker by 2012 and get a job when something happened that lit a fire from under him:

“When Jeremy Lin’s story stormed the NBA and Taiwan scene, his success inspired me. I was literally in tears when I first saw his breakthrough game. I was thinking in the back of my mind, ‘If he can do it in NBA where it’s predominantly black and white people, I can also do it in the poker world where your skin color or height isn’t much of a factor to your success.’”

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Fan decided to buckle down and give it one more shot. In 2013, He found a mentorship from fellow poker pros Nam and Tommy Le to improve his game. The brothers also introduced him to the Bulletproof Diet, an upgraded version of the paleo diet famously known for popularizing the butter coffee trend.

“The Le brothers helped me a lot during my two month “transformation camp” at their house. I dropped 25 lbs using the Bulletproof diet during that time, honed my poker skills and learned how to be a better person.”

After hours of practice and studying to sharpen his poker skills, Fan finished 4th in a California Mega Million tournament for $40,000 two months later. A week later, Fan had a breakthrough tournament and won the coveted Macau Poker Cup main event and raked in $228,000.

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“It’s almost unbelievable how changing your mindset and lifestyle can have such a tremendous impact on so many other things.”

Fan, now 33, has completely turned his life around. He maintains a very healthy lifestyle, works out almost everyday and weighs 174 lbs, having shed a total of 57 lbs. Last year, he was named Asia Player of the Year by the World Series of Poker.

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“For breakfast, I always have Bulletproof Coffee and then I would eat grass-fed steak, wild caught salmon or bacon with free range eggs and veggies. Very simple yet very nutrient-rich. If I snack, I eat butter straight up, drink some coconut oil or sprinkle brain octane oil on some almonds.”

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As for the one major piece of advice he has for anyone looking to be successful in poker, Fan had this to say:

“Eat healthy. Very healthy. Because what you eat makes a huge difference on your mental performance, and your brain is the muscle we bring to the competition. Also, get a coach. Let’s be honest, not everyone can be truthful to themselves — you need outsiders to spot your leaks and mistakes and to give you guidance.”

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Terry is currently in Las Vegas competing in the annual World Series of Poker Events and aspires to win the coveted main event. He resides in Tapei, Taiwan. 

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