Orlando teen is No. 1 Pokemon player in the world

'It's just all has been a really cool experience,' boy says

By Carolina Cardona - Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - While fans all over the world are captivated by the Pokemon cartoon phenomenon, Orlando is where you'll find the No. 1 card trading game player.

Tanner Hurley said he was late to the Pokemon craze.

"I wasn't really into like the cartoons or any of that stuff," Hurley said.

Hurley may not have been a fan eight years ago but that changed when he stumbled upon some Pokémon cards that belonged to his older sister. At 15, he's held the No. 1 world title for two years in a row.

"It just all has been a really cool experience, I've really enjoyed all of it," Hurley said.

The ninth grade student didn't start out as a pro.

"At first I didn't even know it was a game. I just liked the cards," he said.

It was his curiosity that led him to attend a Pokémon card game league, where he was taught how to play. Over the years, he's won numerous awards. 

"Some of them are for, like, first places, some are for top four," Hurley said.

At the international competitions where he's won, he's also been awarded cards that are limited editions that are worth at least $1,000.

"Essentially the goal of the game is to use cards like trainers and items to draw through your deck so you can get enough energy to knock your opponent's Pokémon out," Hurley explained.

It's similar to the video games, only with the cards, each player uses a 60-card deck they built and neither player knows what card is in their opponent's deck.

"I'm using my Pokemon to knock yours out and every time I knock out a Pokemon, I get a prize card and once you draw six prize cards, you win the game," he said.

It's not always easy to play at first.

"The first time I played the game, I was so lost on what was going on, I had no clue," Hurley said.

It's a strategic game that's taken the teen and his mom all over the United States and to several countries such as Brazil, Mexico, England, Costa Rica and Australia for regional and world championships.

His most recent win was in April at the European International Championship in Germany, where he won for a second time. The cash prize was $5,000.

"I was pretty nervous going into the finals match. There was a lot of money on the line, there was a lot of recognition," the straight A student recalled.

The teen offers a summer camp for those interested in learning how to play the card game. The camp week runs from June 10 through July 26 in Orlando.  For details about the camp and to reserve a spot, call 321-229-2190.

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