Real Life Rounder: Winner Jerod Smith Shifts From Legal Briefs to Poker Champ

May 24, 2021
Real Life Rounder: Winner Jerod Smith Shifts From Legal Briefs to Poker Champ

It’s a real Rounders story – life as an attorney or strike out for life as a professional poker player? Like the fictional Mike McDermott in the film, Las Vegas poker pro Jerod Smith faced that same decision. 

After graduating from law school in 2012 and passing the California bar exam a year later, Smith worked for himself practicing landlord-tenant law. All the while, he also played poker on the side.

“Eventually it got to the point where I felt I could sustain myself by playing poker,” he says, “and much preferred that to practicing law. So I slowly shifted to full time poker player.”

In May of 2020, Smith packed his bags and headed to Sin City. In April, Smith added to his poker resumé by winning the $215 Monster Stack in the Spring Online Super Circuit. He took home $22,848 and a championship ring.

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Calling his shot in Vegas

One of the advantages of being a pro in Nevada is having access to plenty of poker.  That includes live tournaments and cash games as well as regulated US online poker

Since moving to Vegas, Smith has racked up over $60,000 worth of online tournament winnings on In the recent win, he outplayed some impressive competition at the final table including one player who knew him well. 

“Interestingly enough, my girlfriend Melissa Bryne was also at the final table with me,” Smith says. “She ended up getting sixth.”

What’s more impressive is Smith called his shot a day before and said he would win the event. Or maybe it’s not so impressive, the way he tells the story.

“Yeah, the shot call was kind of funny,” he says. “I’ve somewhat infamously been getting smoked on since I moved out to Vegas last year, and it’s kind of a running joke”

Recently Smith also had luck on the live felt as well. On April 29, he took runner-up in a $600 Wynn Signature Series event for $62,500.

Smith is showing he’s no one hit wonder and ready to grind. Here’s a look at some other impressive live cashes:

  • $1,100 Wynn Series (May 2021)  – fifth for $34,374 
  • $1,700 WSOP Circuit event (September 2019)  – fifth for $32,271
  • $10,000 WSOP Main Event (July 2019) – 158th for $58,295 
  • $1,000 WSOP Tag Team (June 2019) – runner-up with Lawrence Chan and Matthew Moreno for $34,675

WSOP ready and working as a poker instructor at Tournament Poker Edge

Like many poker players, Smith is anticipating getting in on the action when the WSOP returns this fall. The series’ return also means more live poker in general for a player like Smith.

“I’m typically not a huge WSOP guy outside of the really good value events as I prefer some of the outside venues like Wynn and Venetian in the summer,” he says. “This will be interesting in the fall as I’m not sure what the competition will look like, though I’m sure some other properties will figure out a way to capitalize on the WSOP traffic.”

When Smith isn’t playing events, he creates videos and content for the Tournament Poker Edge training site. He credits the site for helping him advance his own skills.

“I think that TPE is one of the best places to get a very wide variety of information because they have videos from so many coaches on so many different concepts,” he says.

Smith specializes in multi-table tournament strategy, offering hand history reviews of players making deep runs and ICM (Independent Chip Model) spots.

What’s one piece of advice from this lawyer turned rounder for other up-and-coming players?

“Surround yourself with people better than you who are willing to talk strategy,” he says. “It’s pretty invaluable to be able to get advice on a hand at all hours of the day.”

That’s something Mike McDermott could certainly agree with.

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