Ten years ago, after quitting his electrical engineering job to play poker full-time, Grand Forks native Jason Senti won more than $1 million thanks to a seventh-place finish at the World Series of Poker’s Main Event in Las Vegas.
Today, the 38-year-old Red River High School and UND graduate is no longer playing poker professionally.
Senti’s career remains poker -- only this time he’s in upper management.
In late 2019, Senti was named CEO of Run It Once Poker, an online poker site. Run It Once Poker provides the platform, manages the payments and monitors the integrity of the games, Senti said. In turn, the company takes a small fee from the hands played.
Senti has been with Run It Once Poker since August of 2016. He started as a Poker Room Manager and was promoted to Managing Director a year later.
Senti, with his wife and daughter, live in Malta, a small island nation 60 miles south of Sicily.
“We really like it here,” Senti said. “It is a unique and cool place to live. It is difficult being so far from family, but the weather is excellent and the Mediterranean Sea is beautiful.”
Run It Once Poker has 25 full-time employees in its Malta offices and Senti estimates another 15 employees mostly in Eastern Europe and North America.
Although nearby Italy has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak, Senti said Malta hasn’t had the same experience so far.
“Our company has switched entirely to remote work,” Senti said. “I haven’t left our apartment in over two weeks. It’s a stressful time for everyone, but we feel very fortunate to be healthy together and able to work remotely.”
Senti said he feels blessed to be able to play poker professionally for nine years and that playing a game for a living was rewarding.
However, he said it’s still a challenging profession.
“It is a skill game where the best players will win in the long-run, but there is a lot of luck in the short-run,” Senti said. “As a result, you have to be able to deal with significant financial swings and long stretches of losing day in and day out. That can be very taxing mentally, even for the best players.
“In the end, poker has treated me very well and allowed me to have experiences I never would’ve had otherwise. Even though I no longer play poker professionally, I am still heavily involved in the industry and passionate about the game. I wouldn’t recommend it for most, but I’m thrilled that I was able to make a career out of poker.”
Senti said his family plans to return to the United States eventually but is focused on growing Run it Once Poker right now.
“We are licensed and regulated by the Malta Gaming Authority and the United Kingdom Gambling Commission,” Senti said. “As a result, Malta is the best location for our offices in the current setup. We are a relatively young startup, so what will happen over the next few years is still quite uncertain. For now, we are very happy in Malta.”