James was born in Columbus, Georgia but grew up in New Orleans. That James was smart was never questioned and on finishing high school he attended Stanford University. It was at Stanford that James Van Alstyne learned two things: engineering and poker. James did in fact work as an engineer for several years, but it was the poker that was really going to stay with him forever.
When seeing James Van Alstyne one may ask one of two questions: firstly, why the baseball cap, and secondly, why ‘The Clash’ T-shirt? The answer to the second is simple – James loves the Clash, along with Echo and The Bunnymen, stating that punk rock is his favorite genre of music. The answer to the first question is linked to his beginnings as a gambler. James started off as a card counter, an activity that he soon found he had quite an aptitude for. James would wear a baseball cap in casinos in order to avoid the watchful eye of the casino security staff; the baseball cap has simply stuck. This card counting however not only started him off in the gambling world, but it also contributed to his blackjack abilities – James Van Alstyne is a professional blackjack player as well as poker player.
James states Omaha Hold’em is his favorite form of poker, and it was in this that he had 3 cash finishes in the WSOP between 1994 and 1998 including a second place position in the later of these years. James realized however that Omaha tournaments are not common enough and so, he had to enter into the main stream and sit at the Texas table. It paid off. In 1999 James Van Alystyne took 16th position in the WSOP main event.
Following this win James disappeared from the tournament poker scene, and tried his luck instead on the stock exchange which did not go so well for him. Between 1999 and 2004 James lost over one million dollars on stocks and shares; he came back to competitive gambling however in 2004 with a renewed vigor and has stayed in the limelight since.
In October of 2004 James took the $125,520 first prize from the WPPA Championship of Poker, as well as winning the Grand Final of the Ultimate Poker Challenge season 1. In September of the following year James Van Alstyne came 7th in the World Poker Tour Aruba Ultimate Poker Classic Event, and won the final table of the WPT TV Tournament with a winning prize of $439, 475. In recent months alone, James has come in the top 10 of the Borqata Winter Poker Open, the LA Poker Classic, The Wynn Classic, the Bay 101 Shooting Star, the Mirage Poker Showdown, and the Orleans Open.
This baseball cap wearing, punk band t-shirt wielding, engineer, Stanford graduate has taken away from live competitions a very impressive $2,600,000 to date.
Sam Marshall - Editorial Staff