Husein Rahemtulla
Credit: Adam Blasberg

Rahemtulla gave up professional poker when his father became ill

Before co-founding meal-kit service Fresh Prep, Husein Rahemtulla played poker for a living. Now he plays for fun

I’ve played soccer and squash since I was very young. I played both at a competitive level because I am supercompetitive. That translated well into poker later on. It started out in high school, where we used to play home games with friends. It was just for fun, but I could still have the desire to win, and I could see there was a lot of skill involved in the game. I studied it a bit and started winning and had a bit of an edge over my high-school classmates, but I didn’t take it up professionally until about 2011. I opened an online poker account and got into the game starting at lower stakes. The better you get, the higher your wages become or the higher the buy-ins that you enter for tournaments and sit-and-gos. I found myself winning money, and I was able to move up in stakes and make more money. That became what I was doing semi-professionally for the next three years. My hourly rate started out around $20 and peaked around $80.

I graduated [from UBC] in December 2012 and had planned to move to Mexico and take a crack at playing professionally full-time, but my dad was diagnosed with cancer in November. We had a couple of hotels on Vancouver Island, and I started running them. He was treated successfully, but that altered my focus and made me realize that business was also a field I was interested in.

Now I’ll go to the casino and play in cash games for fun on the weekend. I’ll do that occasionally, if I have some time and I’m looking to really focus on something and tune out of the ongoing business stuff that’s always in my head. I find it’s a good place where I can get into a flow state and tune in on what’s happening in front of me. I still play occasionally online. I’ll log into my old account, and I still have some money on there, so I’ll play in a couple of smaller-stake buy-ins.

This interview has been edited

WARRIOR SPOTLIGHT

Husein Rahemtulla and his childhood friends Dhruv Sood and Becky Switzer founded Fresh Prep Foods Inc., a Vancouver company that makes and delivers kits containing the ingredients for a range of dinner entrees, in 2014. Fresh Prep now has about 100 employees and serves 5,000 customers from Squamish to Abbotsford.