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After six years as an in-house patent attorney at Pfizer Inc., Gregory Raymer is putting away his regular business attire for a while. Instead, he’ll be donning snake-eye glasses and Mardi Gras beads as he embarks on a new career as a professional poker player. Of course, Raymer can afford to wear anything he wants to now. In May he won the 35th Annual World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, netting a cool $5 million. At first the 39-year-old lawyer planned to stick with his day job at Pfizer’s branch in Groton, Connecticut. But Raymer says that after a couple of days, he realized “there was no way” he could cash in on his newfound fame as a poker player and keep up with his work at Pfizer. He gave notice, packed his files, and left two weeks later. Poker is a serious subject for Raymer. He’s been playing for ten years, almost as long as he’s practiced law. Although he relegated his gaming to weekends and vacations � Pfizer’s internal software blocks access to online poker sites � Raymer says he still managed to log about 600 hours a year. He played in tournaments and cash games on the Internet and at Foxwoods Casino in Ledyard, Connecticut, about six miles from his house. And he claims that he’s made a profit every year. Raymer’s hobby was no secret around the office. “Someone would always want to hear the latest war story,” he explains. By the time Raymer made it to the final nine-person table at the World Series of Poker, “it was all anyone was talking about,” his Pfizer colleagues told him later. Since joining the pharmaceutical giant in 1998, Raymer worked primarily on shepherding biotech inventions through the patent process. In addition to a J.D. from the University of Minnesota, Raymer holds degrees in chemistry and biochemistry. He says that his science background gives him a leg up on poker’s statistical nature. But the similarities between his old job and his new career end there. “Poker and patent law really don’t have all that much in common,” he says. Raymer adds that he doesn’t see too many lawyers at the gaming tables. The ones who show up tend to be trial lawyers, he says: “[They're] less risk-averse.” The snake-eye glasses, which Raymer bought two years ago at Walt Disney World, are a regular feature of his poker costume. The reptilian gaze helps him intimidate his opponents, he explains: “It’s easy to have a stare-down when you don’t blink. Some people can’t even look at me.” He completes the look with plastic beads around his neck and a collection of fossils that he uses to hold his cards. His nickname, in fact, is “Fossilman.” At his going-away party, Raymer’s Pfizer coworkers presented him with a group photo titled “Pfossilman Pfan Club.” Raymer says that he plans to play poker professionally for at least a year, if not longer. But he admits, “If I end up doing this for the next 30 years, it might get old.” If so, he’ll always have patent law to fall back on.

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