Boaz Weinstein: Chess Master at 16

May 27, 2012
J. Webster
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The NY Times has the story about Boaz Weinstein, the hedge fund manager who took down Bruno Iksil, otherwise know as the London Whale, but in the piece we also learn that Weinstein’s quite the chess and poker player. All makes perfect sense. I wonder if he’s ever played poker with David Einhorn?

And Weinstein loves a good game of blackjack too, although he can’t play at the Bellagio anymore as he was banned for counting cards. I get the sense he’s the real deal, not some Rain Man or Hangover type character. However, he’s been on the other side of those big trades, once losing nearly $2 billion for Deutsche Bank during the financial crisis. The rush is what he’s seeking I’m guessing:

LIKE many hedge fund traders, Mr. Weinstein is comfortable with risky pursuits, particularly those that require spot calculations and a cool head. A gambling enthusiast, he has an affinity for blackjack and poker. In 2005, Mr. Weinstein won a Maserati by competing in poker in a tournament sponsored by a unit of Warren E. Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. Mr. Weinstein still drives the car. He plays with celebrities like Matt Damon, too.

Not everyone is enthusiastic about Mr. Weinstein’s playing style. A few years back, on a trip to Vegas, he was banned from the opulent Bellagio casino for counting cards while playing blackjack.

Much has also been made of his prowess as a chess player. He earned the chess master designation at the age of 16, and has remained a lifelong fan, though he plays less these days. At a charity auction in 2010, he paid $10,500 to play alongside the chess legend Garry Kasparov and the young chess sensation Magnus Carlsen.

Mostly, he sneaks in quick games online, sometimes with Peter Thiel, a hedge fund manager and Silicon Valley star who was an early investor in Facebook.

Both chess and playing the markets require a mind that can see several steps ahead of the next man — a fact that has not been lost on Wall Street. Privately, Mr. Weinstein tells friends that while skill at chess is great to have, it’s hardly a requisite for being a good trader. (NY Times)

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