Dan Sun, a 30-year-old professional poker player from Iowa, has become an honored Player of the Year thanks to his excellent poker performance throughout 2012. The icing on the cake was his $154,007 winnings in the 2012 Mid-States Poker Tour (MSPT).

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Born in Texas to Chinese parents, Sun loved playing strategy games such as chess and even won several chess tournaments in school. This helped him learn how to play poker. He then studied mathematics and computer science in the Iowa University, where he worked as a software engineer for 7 years. He began watching poker tournaments on ESPN in 2004 and this inspired him to start playing poker with his college friends.

He said, “I remember there were times where we would play until the sun came up and then go straight to class. My parents are against gambling of any kind, so while I was growing up I was never really exposed to the game.”

Before 2011, Sun was content playing casual poker games, including cash poker games and small tournaments, in the local poker room. The turning point in his career came when a friend informed him about a $100k guaranteed tournament in Oklahoma. Although initially reluctant to travel such a long distance to take part in a $1,100 buy-in tournament, he finally decided to take part, finished fourth, and collected the largest cash prize he had ever won—$ 21,835. Speaking about his first poker success, he said, “That is really when my poker career started to take off. I began to take it more seriously and travel more to play.”

Sun started following the MSPT in 2012 and beat a player field of 301 at Meskwaki Casino Hotel, Iowa to win $77,103. He had to beat Jeremy Dresch, who had 3 HPT titles and one MSPT title to his credit, to become the champion. He then won the next MSPT tournament held at Grand Falls Casino Resort, South Dakota, and won $60,486. Two months later, he tried winning another MSPT title at Grand Casino, Minnesota, but couldn’t make it.

To sum it up, 2012 was the best and the most lucrative year in Sun’s poker career as he emerged as the MSPT superhero and earned $154,007 on this tour alone.

Expressing his appreciation of his girlfriend, he said that he could travel so much to take part in poker tournaments only because of her and parents who help take care of their son.

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