Former poker pro Haseeb Qureshi starts over with charitable donations

After retiring from the game, former poker ace Haseeb Qureshi donates his earnings and makes a fresh start

31 DECEMBER 2013, LOS ANGELES, CA

Haseeb Qureshi’s career as a professional poker player began unexpectedly at 16. Five years later, he was a world-class high stakes player, with a sponsorship from Full Tilt Poker, and a growing reputation as one of the world's leading poker instructors. But at the height of his career, at the age of 21, his friend and then protégé José "Girah" Macedo was caught cheating, shocking Haseeb and outraging the poker world.

Answering the ensuing outcry, Haseeb lied to the poker community about the extent of his relationship with Macedo, for whom he was originally acting as an agent and backer—a series of mistakes that would cripple his reputation and prompt his retirement from professional poker. Soon after, he returned to his home in Texas to complete his education and reconnect with his family. He spent the intervening years volunteering, writing, reflecting on his life and reestablishing his roots outside of the game.

Now, two years after his fall from grace, Haseeb has decided to give away his poker earnings and start a new chapter in his life. He is donating $75,000 to charity, and the remainder of his assets he has relinquished to his parents to go towards their retirement.

"I just want to start from scratch. Poker was a rough life while I was in it. But now that I've been away for a while, I realize just how kind it was to me. I'm trying to move forward in my life, and just do what I can to help people. Poker gave me more than I ever needed, so it feels like the right thing to do to pay it forward," he says.

He has distributed the $75,000 among several major and up-and-coming charities. He donated $20,000 each to the Indigenous Cultural Conservation Society, The Simama Project, and Charity: Water. His final $15,000 donation, which was matched by Good Ventures, was made to GiveDirectly. Haseeb has written about these charities and their work at www.haseeb.com/starting-over

Since his retirement from poker, Haseeb has been working on his first book, which he recently completed. The book, “How to Be a Poker Player: The Philosophy of Poker" quickly became the #1 Amazon best-selling poker book after its release. His book explores the strategy, psychology, and philosophy of poker, and the interface between poker and the human mind. “How to Be a Poker Player: The Philosophy of Poker" is available in both print and e-book format from his website www.haseebq.com, and on Amazon

“I’ve been working on this book for a couple years, and now it’s finally ready. It’s all the lessons I never had the chance to teach while I was playing poker. I wanted to make it affordable enough initially so that even an amateur player could easily purchase it, and learn the lessons that it took five years for me to learn. Poker is a hard life; I hope this book will equip people to deal with its challenges.”

Haseeb Qureshi has coached over 100 professional poker players and has worked for Deucescracked and Cardrunners, major poker educational sites, as one of their lead instructors. Haseeb has not played a single handle of poker since retirement and has dedicated the majority of his time to helping other players. He now works as a mind coach. Mind coaching is a subset of poker coaching that focuses on teaching poker players how to control their emotions, overcome their fears, and master their mindsets.

Additionally, he has written numerous articles on his website pertaining to poker, philosophy, and how to control your emotions. For more information, interview requests, or review copies of his book, please contact: haseeb@haseebq.com


About Haseeb Qureshi

Haseeb Qureshi started playing poker professionally when he was 16 years old. He soon became a renowned high stakes professional online poker player and was sponsored by Full Tilt Poker. At age 21 he became entangled in the Girah Scandal, in which a protégé of his, Jose "Girah" Macedo, was caught cheating. Soon after the scandal, Haseeb retired from poker.

After going on extensive travels, contemplating and writing about his life and experiences, Haseeb soon returned to Texas to be with his family and complete his education. He spent much of the interim two years volunteering, meditating, and writing about poker and philosophy. He is soon to graduate from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in English with a minor in philosophy.

In his private life, Haseeb spends much of his time reading, writing, meditating, performing improv comedy, rock-climbing, and training martial arts. Since his retirement from poker, he has also volunteered extensively. He regularly headed a class teaching English to refugees for over a year, and is now volunteering for Safeplace, a domestic violence shelter. He intends to spend his Christmas volunteering in their warehouse.

Quotes
"I just want to start from scratch. Poker was a rough life while I was in it. But now that I've been away for a while, I realize just how kind it was to me. I'm trying to move forward in my life, and just do what I can to help people. Poker gave me more than I ever needed, so it feels like the right thing to do to pay it forward" Haseeb Qureshi
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