Hold ’em or Fold ’em?

Summer 2014

The man “passionately obsessive” about poker shares his tips for going home with the winnings.


Avi Rubin is no stranger to hobnobbing with the best and brightest. Perhaps that’s because he is one of them himself. A nationally recognized expert on computer security issues, Rubin has been interviewed by 60 Minutes, The New York Times, the Washington Post, and other major news media. He has also testified before Congress on issues involving network security, including the glitch-filled rollout of the Affordable Care Act.

Still, Rubin admits to having been a little star struck when he found himself surrounded by professional poker players at Maryland Live Casino in Arundel Mills in late March. An avid poker enthusiast, Rubin was one of several amateur players invited to the cash game being filmed for an in-development television series called Poker Night in America.

“He was like a kid trapped inside a candy store; a boy sitting on Santa Claus’s knee,” wrote producer Nolan Dalla in a blog about Rubin’s participation. “Rubin revealed that sitting down in a live televised game … amounted to the experience of attending a poker fantasy camp.”

“I am passionately obsessive about poker,” says Rubin, a professor of computer science at the Whiting School and technical director of the Johns Hopkins University Information Security Institute. “The geek in me loves the math and science of it. The competitor in me loves the action. It’s been a dream of mine to play with some of these guys whom I’ve seen on TV many times.”

Rubin began playing poker eight years ago, and plays weekly with friends. His goal is to compete in the World Series of Poker Main Event by age 50.