The bets are placed, the cards are dealt, the stakes are high. For Derrick Kwa, a college dropout, the luck of the draw is more than just a poker game, it is a means to Paris, Vienna, Rome and more. In a moment he could win thousands of dollars, in the next he could lose it all.
Kwa, originally from Singapore, left Hampshire College in Massachusetts to live the life of a nomadic poker player. Jet-setting from country to country, Kwa’s winnings from one game pay for his next adventure.
“School has never quite been for me. It’s unnecessary, pointless and it doesn’t really set you apart,” he said.
Kwa, now 21, dropped out of high school in Singapore when he was 16. After being tested at age 9 and scoring in the top 1 percent, he was accepted into the gifted program, a vigorous schooling track guaranteeing a place in the best college in Singapore.
A year or so after leaving high school and the Gifted Program, Kwa independently took the SATs and was accepted at Hampshire College in Massachusetts, a selective private school in the US. It was there Kwa got into poker.