– General Introduction –
Dan Harrington is an American professional poker player. He was born on December 6th, 1945 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
He’s best known for winning the WSOP Main Event in 1995. He has an amazing 3 other, a total of 4, final tables finishes in the WSOP ME – a 6th palace in 1987, a 3rd place in 2003, and a 4th place in 2004.
Also in 1995, he won another bracelet – he took down the $2,500 No Limit Hold’em event. Overall, Harrington has cashed for $6.624 million in live tournaments during his long career.
In 2004, he released the first edition in his influential series of poker strategy books that share the title “Harrington on Hold’em”. He ended up releasing 3 books in the series.
Sometimes he’s referred to as “Action Dan”. It’s an ironic nickname that he got for his tight, conservative strategy.
– Key Career Dates –
- 1987: He makes it to the final table in the WSOP Main Event for the first time, eventually taking 6th place for $43,750.
- 1995: He wins the WSOP Main Event for $1 million.
- 2004: He releases his first strategy book with Two Plus Two Publishing titled Harrington on Hold’em – Volume 1: Strategic Play.
- 2007: He wins the $9,700 No Limit Hold’em – Championship Event at the Legends of Poker series in Los Angeles for $1.635 million. That is the biggest single live tournament cash of his career to date.
– Dan Harrington’s Career –
→ Beginnings ←
Before getting into professional poker, Harrington excelled in two other games: backgammon and chess. In 1971, he even won the Massachusetts State Chess Championship.
He had this to say about his previous games in a 2015 interview with pokerlistings.com:
“Chess was my first love. I played a lot when I was in college.
Then I went away from that and started playing backgammon. I stayed with it for a couple of years and managed to win a major tournament. I dropped out of that and took up poker in a serious way, was successful again and then dropped out of that, too.
I never went back to chess because you have to improve all the time to keep up with the best.”
He learnt to play poker while studying Government and History at Suffolk University. During his college years, he even played cards against Microsoft founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen. In the meantime, he further honed his poker skills at the famous underground card room Mayfair Club in New York City.
He went on to graduate from law school, then worked for a brief period of time as a bankruptcy lawyer while continuing to play poker on the side. His big break at the table came in 1987, when he made it to the final table in the WSOP Main Event. By then, he was all set up to leave his job as an attorney and play his favorite card game for a living.
→ Live Tournaments ←
Harrington has $6.624 million in live tournament earnings, according to his Hendon page. He cashed in 52 different events over the span of a long and rich 34-year career.
The first recorded cash on his profile is from January 1986. He finished 4th for $13,050 in the $2,500 No Limit Hold’em event at the Grand Prix of Poker in the Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
He then delivered 9 other ITM finishes, each for thousands of dollars, in the next 6 years. He played the two biggest gambling centers in the US, Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Between November 1992 and May 1995, there is no tracked result on his Hendon page. However, most likely he just played in smaller, untracked events.
The first time he made a six-figure score was when he got his first gold bracelet at the 1995 World Series.
In October 2005, Harrington took 2nd place in the $10,200 Doyle Brunson North American Poker Championship for $620,730 at the Bellagio. In August 2007, he finished 1st in the $9,700 NLHE event at the Legends of Poker series in the famous Bicycle Casino in California. He got $1.635 million for that great victory, which is the biggest single live tournament score of his career to date.
→ World Series of Poker ←
Dan Harrington has won two WSOP gold bracelets so far. They’re both from the same year.
In 1995, he first took down the $2,500 No Limit Hold’em event for $249,000. Then, he got the greatest achievement in the poker world.
He won the WSOP Main Event for $1 million. He outlasted a 273-player field, eventually beating the Canadian Howard Goldfarb heads-up for the title.
What’s more, he has three other final table finishes in the Main Event. In 1987, the year Johnny Chan won for the first time, he got 6th place for $43,750. In 2003, he got 3rd place behind the historic winner Chris Moneymaker and runner-up finisher Sammy Farha, and pocketed $650,000.
A year later, in 2004, he took 4th place in a much larger field bloated by the Moneymaker boom and got $1.5 million. That year, Greg Raymer won the Main.
However, his four Main Event final table finishes aren’t a record – he’s just one shy of Jesse Alto’s 5.
Overall, Harrington has cashed in 13 World Series events for a total of $3.534 million combined.
→ Live Cash Games ←
Dan Harrington appeared on an episode of Season 4 on the classic poker TV show Poker After Dark. However, that week they played a winner-take-all “Sit&Go” instead of the cash game format.
In the early 2000’s, he appeared on an obscure show called “Cash Poker”, where he played a session of $100/$200 No Limit Hold’em. Here’s an interesting hand from that game, which Harrington ended up losing.
→ Online Poker ←
While he did cover online cash games in one of his famous strategy books, Harrington doesn’t actually have any online poker account known to be his whose results are tracked publicly.
A few years after his Main Event win, Harrington decided to focus more on his business ventures. That’s what he meant when he said that he “dropped out of poker” in the PokerListings interview quoted above. In 1998, he co-founded the money lender company Anchor Loans which specializes in short-term loans for real estate investors.
Between 1998 and 2003, he only has two cashes listed on his Hendon page. However, in 2003, with the Moneymaker boom, Harrington saw the opportunity to make big money in poker so he started playing live tournaments again.
In 2004, he released his first poker strategy book, co-authored with Bill Robertie, with Two Plus Two Publishing. It was titled “Harrington on Hold’em, Volume 1: Strategic Play”. The next installment in his book series came out the next year, in 2005, with the subtitle “Volume 2: Endgame”. Despite what the name suggests, it wasn’t the last in the one in the series. In 2006, “Harrington on Hold’em, Volume 3: Expert Strategies for No Limit Tournaments” came out.
These books have been very influential. Some world famous pros, such as Dominik Nitsche from Germany and Peter “Belabacsi” Traply from Hungary credit these books for elevating their game to the professional level.
Perhaps the most famous strategy from Harrington’s book is to use your wristwatch as a randomizer. If you need to make an action at a certain frequency – for example, you need to bluff on this river 33% of the time – you can take a look at the second hand on your watch. If the number you see is divisible by 3, you can go for the bluff. That way, you ensure you’re going to make this play at random, one third of the time.