Peter Gerolamo doesn’t play poker, but he won more than $40,000 at the World Series of Poker on Saturday night.
Gerolamo was part of a group of friends who financially backed Scott Blumstein, the 25-year-old who won it all and the $8.15 million that came with it.
“I Venmo’d him $60 on July 7,” Gerolamo said Sunday from a hotel room in Las Vegas, where he was still recovering from watching the friend he met at Temple University become a champion.
Gerolamo, Aldo Boscia, John Scuteri and Nick Muldrow each gave Blumstein $60 toward his $10,000 entry fee and will each come away with $40,750 before taxes.
It’s commonplace for poker players to have friends and family fund their entry fees to big tournaments in return for a piece of the winnings, but Blumstein’s investors came in for smaller amounts than are typical. That means that the money for them tends to be more life-changing.
Blumstein won’t say how much of his stake he sold before the tournament, but he’s thrilled for the people who had faith in him.
“My dad sold a half a percent to the owner of a bagel shop,” Blumstein said. “A friend of my grandfather’s, who is 93 and plays poker, had 2 percent.”
Virtually anyone could have had a piece of Blumstein’s action: hoping to sell a couple more percentage points, Blumstein took to Twitter on June 21.
— Scott Blumstein (@SBlum2711) June 21, 2017
He got no interest, so he said he wound up selling that piece to a person he met in the poker circles.
On July 8, the WSOP main event began at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino with Blumstein and 7,220 others. As Blumstein survived each day, Scuteri’s Excel spreadsheet made its way to each college friend who invested.
“I knew when he was in the top 36, we had each made $1,000,” Gerolamo said.
Blumstein didn’t really need the $60 from each of them, Boscia said. The deal was in part for the camaraderie.
“He wanted us to sweat it out with him,” said Boscia, who had invested with Blumstein before.
Just a year before, Blumstein needed help with a $560 buy-in for a tournament at the Borgata in Atlantic City. He came home with $200,000.
When Blumstein made the final table and was guaranteed a total of $1 million, the friends flew from the Philadelphia area to accompany him in Vegas, wearing “TEAM BLUMSTEIN FINAL TABLE ’17” shirts.
They proceeded to watch hour after hour of poker, with Blumstein coming out on top.
“We know he is exhausted, but we are too,” said Boscia, who added that the money he made is life-changing. “I just have a normal 9-to-5 job. I have student loans. I can now make a down payment on a house.”
Besides Blumstein, there were some bigger winners than his college buddies. One of them was Asher Conniff, who bought 3 percent of Blumstein’s winnings for $420. He grossed $244,500.
“Not a bad day at the office,” Conniff said. “Especially since I didn’t work for it.”
Conniff is a poker pro, who in 2015, at the age of 26, won the World Poker Tour World Championship and the $937,683 prize off a $1,600 buy-in qualifier.
“No one is prepared for the amount of pressure that comes with the final table,” Conniff said. “Some of the moves he made proved he had the balls of a champion.”
For his part, Blumstein has no regrets about the partners he took on and the money he’ll give to them when he receives his money.
“The truth is that a bunch of guys who had small stakes in me helped me the most at the end, when I needed support, when I needed to be driven places,” Blumstein said. “I can say pretty confidently that without their support, I might not have won it all.”