En route to the bank yesterday with his newly acquired millions,
poker’s latest whiz kid couldn’t quite decide how he’d like his name
spelled.

 

“I’ve spelled it Pooria, with an I, since I was
little, but all my documents spell it Poorya, with a Y,” he told me,
“so what the heck? Go with the Y.”

 

All rightie, then, Poorya
Nazari it is. And rich is what this 22-year-old from Richmond Hill,
Ont. is since collecting – and depositing – the $3-million U.S. he
garnered for finishing first on the weekend at the PokerStars Caribbean
Adventure
, the largest tournament outside Las Vegas.

 

Nazari’s
initial buy-in online was a mere $33, and he was one of 1,347 who
qualified to participate in six days of play at Paradise Island in the
Bahamas last week.

 

“I seriously started playing online (at
www.pokerstars.net) last December and I was doing well, so I realized
maybe I can do this for a living,” Nazari mentioned on the way to his
bank. “Even when I was in school, I spent most of my time playing
poker.”

Nazari graduated with a biochemistry degree from
McMaster University last month but “my marks suffered and I barely
scraped by with a degree.”

Doesn’t much matter to him at this point, he said. Oh, and a warning to anyone planning to ask him for loans:

“The answer, more than likely, will be no.”

After attending and observing the Caribbean tourney, incidentally, I’ve decided poker qualifies as a sport – a mind sport.

Players
can’t win without fierce, competitive mindsets. And one of the toughest
is a diminutive dynamo from Victoriaville, Que. -- Isabelle (No Mercy) Mercier, who gave up her law practice for poker and has made hundreds of thousands at the table.

She’s fascinating. To find out why, check out my feature on her in Metro and at www.metronews.ca later this week.

In baseball, don’t be surprised if the Blue Jays soon appoint Washington Nationals president Stan Kasten
as their new prez. It’s essentially a done deal. . .Kasten is also
ex-bossman of the Atlanta Braves, who, by the way, are close to signing
two prominent free agents – pitcher Derek Lowe and outfielder Adam Dunn. . .The latest in the personal affairs of the New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez: He and Madonna are no more, but he dated actress Kate Hudson on the weekend. . .And, yes, Rickey Henderson
was a no-brainer for Hall of Fame nomination yesterday because he was
the most prolific leadoff batter in history. But what about Tim Raines,
the second-best leadoff batter in history? Will he perpetually be
bypassed by Hall voters because, like the perpetually bypassed Andre Dawson, he excelled with the old Montreal Expos?