Jon Finkel

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Jon Finkel
NicknamesJonny Magic[1]
The Machine[2]
Born (1978-05-18) May 18, 1978 (age 41)
Brockport, New York
ResidenceNew York, USA
NationalityUnited States
Pro Tour debut1996 Pro Tour New York (junior)
1996 Worlds–Seattle (senior)
Pro Tour wins (Top 8)3 (16)[4]
Grand Prix wins (Top 8)3 (10)[5]
Median Pro Tour Finish61
Lifetime Pro Points628[6]
Planeswalker Level48 (Archmage)

Jon Finkel (born May 18, 1978[7] in Brockport, New York) is an American Magic: The Gathering and poker player.[1] Finkel is one of the most decorated players in the history of professional Magic: The Gathering play and is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all-time.[8][9] During his career he has won 3 Grand Prix events and made the Top 8 of a record 16 Pro Tour events, winning three of those. In the year 2000, he became the Magic: The Gathering World Champion, as well as playing for the United States National Team, which won the team portion of the competition.


Finkel moved with his family to Woking, England in the summer of 1992 and learned about Magic: The Gathering shortly thereafter at a local game shop named Fun and Games. After he returned to the New York area in 1995 Finkel quickly made friends with the "OMS brothers", Steven and Daniel O'Mahoney-Schwartz.[1]

In 1996 the first Pro Tour was held in New York. Finkel competed in the Junior Division of the tournament, made it to the Top 8, and won a $1,000 scholarship. After reaching another Top 8 in the Junior Division of Pro Tour Columbus Finkel had his first appearance in the senior competition of the Pro Tour at the 1996 World Championship in Seattle. A ninth-place finish earned him $3,200.

Finkel had three Top 16 finishes in the 1996–97 season, but never made it to the finals. His first Top 8 appearance was at Pro Tour Chicago 1997. In the same season Finkel won his first Grand Prix title in Rio de Janeiro, his first Pro Tour title in New York; finished third at US Nationals and the World Championship,[10] and eventually claimed the Pro Player of the Year title.

The 1998–99 season opened with Finkel winning another Grand Prix in Boston and making his third consecutive Top 8 appearance, a feat only once before achieved by Scott Johns. Finkel finished the season second to Kai Budde in the Pro Player of the Year race. At the first Team Pro Tour in Washington the following season Finkel finished third with his friends and teammates Daniel and Steven O'Mahoney-Schwartz. After some mediocre finishes in the middle of the season Finkel won the US Nationals as well as the team and the individual portion of the World Championship. Eventually Finkel finished third in the Pro Player of the Year race. Later in 2000 Finkel also won the Magic Invitational, giving him the chance to design his own Magic card. His creation, Shadowmage Infiltrator, debuted in the Odyssey set and was later reprinted in Time Spiral and Modern Masters 2015 edition.[11]

After two additional Top 8 appearances in the 2000–01 season Finkel's performances dropped in the 2001–02 season. Two Top 8s in 2002–03 were followed by another drop in 2003–04 and eventually by Finkel retiring from professional play. In 2005 he was inducted into the Hall of Fame as the vote leader of the inaugural class. This allowed him to attend further Pro Tours without having to qualify. In 2008 Finkel thus attended and won Pro Tour Kuala Lumpur, becoming the first player to win a Pro Tour after his induction into the Hall of Fame. Magic head designer Mark Rosewater commented on the occasion, "[Finkel] is the most naturally gifted player the game has ever seen. His accomplishments are rivaled by only one other man [Budde]".

In recent years, Finkel, like fellow Magic players David Williams and Noah Boeken, has been playing in high-level poker tournaments. He currently works as a managing partner at the hedge fund Landscape Capital Management.


 Season   Event type   Location  Format Date  Rank 
1997–98 Pro Tour Chicago Extended 10–12 October 1997 3
1997–98 Grand Prix Rio de Janeiro Extended 31 January–February 1, 1998 1
1997–98 Pro Tour New York Limited 17–19 April 1998 1
1997–98 Grand Prix Zurich Limited 30–31 May 1998 6
1997–98 Nationals Colombus Special 3–5 July 1998 3
1997–98 Worlds Seattle Special 12–16 August 1998 3
1997–98 Worlds Seattle National team 12–16 August 1998 1
1998–99 Grand Prix Boston Standard 5–6 September 1998 1
1998–99 Pro Tour Chicago Limited 25–27 September 1998 5
1998–99 Invitational Barcelona Special 4–7 February 1999 4
1998–99 Pro Tour Los Angeles Limited 26–28 February 1999 2
1998–99 Grand Prix Vienna Extended 13–14 March 1999 3
1998–99 Grand Prix Kansas City Extended 27–28 March 1999 5
1999–00 Pro Tour Washington D.C. Team Limited 3–5 September 1999 3
1999–00 Invitational Kuala Lumpur Special 2–5 March 2000 2
1999–00 Grand Prix St. Louis Team Limited 13–14 May 2000 1
1999–00 Nationals Orlando Special 8–11 June 2000 1
1999–00 Grand Prix Pittsburgh Team Limited 24–25 June 2000 3
1999–00 Worlds Brussels Special 2–6 August 2000 1
1999–00 Worlds Brussels National team 2–6 August 2000 1
2000–01 Invitational Sydney Special 16–19 November 2000 1
2000–01 Masters Chicago Limited 30 November–December 1, 2000 2
2000–01 Pro Tour Chicago Standard 1–3 December 2000 5
2000–01 Pro Tour Los Angeles Limited 2–4 February 2001 4
2000–01 Masters Barcelona Block Constructed 4–6 May 2001 3
2002–03 Invitational Seattle Special 18–20 October 2002 3
2002–03 Pro Tour Chicago Limited 17–19 January 2003 3
2002–03 Pro Tour Yokohama Limited 9–11 May 2003 4
2002–03 Grand Prix Amsterdam Team Limited 7–8 June 2003 2
2002–03 Nationals San Diego Special 27–29 June 2003 7
2003–04 Grand Prix Washington D.C. Team Limited 17–18 April 2004 4
2008 Pro Tour Kuala Lumpur Limited 15–17 February 2008 1
2012 Pro Tour Honolulu Standard and Booster Draft 10–12 February 2012 3
2012 Pro Tour Barcelona Block Constructed and Booster Draft 11–13 May 2012 5
2012–13 Players Championship Indianapolis Special 29–31 August 2012 4
2015–16 Pro Tour Milwaukee Standard and Booster Draft 16–18 October 2015 3
2015–16 Pro Tour Madrid Standard and Booster Draft 22–24 April 2016 5
2016–17 Grand Prix Kyoto Limited 22–23 July 2017 4

Last updated: August 6, 2016

In addition Finkel was inducted into the Hall of Fame as the class of 2005 vote leader. Finkel holds the highest vote percentage of any inductee.

In popular culture[edit]

Finkel is the subject of a 2005 biography by author David Kushner, entitled Jonny Magic & the Card Shark Kids—How a Gang of Geeks Beat the Odds and Stormed Las Vegas. The book recounts Finkel's rise to Magic stardom and his subsequent exploits as a poker player and Blackjack card counter.

In 2011, Alyssa Bereznak, an intern for tech website Gizmodo wrote an article about two dates she had with Finkel,[12] which was picked up by Forbes, The Washington Post and CBS. The article was critical of Finkel for not revealing he played Magic on his OkCupid dating profile, eliciting negative comments against the writer from a number of people involved in tech and geek culture, notably actress Felicia Day and Playboy Playmate of the Year Sara Jean Underwood.[13][14]


  1. ^ a b c Kushner, David (2005). Jonny Magic and the Card Shark Kids : how a gang of geeks beat the odds and stormed Las Vegas. Random House. ISBN 1-4000-6407-4.
  2. ^ Bennett, Josh (March 2003). "Kai Leads Star-Studded Top 8". The Sideboard. 8 (45): 4–5.
  3. ^ "Top 200 All-Time Money Leaders". Wizards of the Coast. August 27, 2017. Retrieved October 6, 2017.
  4. ^ "Lifetime Pro Tour Top 8s". Wizards of the Coast. August 7, 2014. Retrieved September 4, 2014.
  5. ^ "Lifetime Grand Prix Top 8s". Wizards of the Coast. July 28, 2014. Retrieved September 4, 2014.
  6. ^ "Planeswalker Points". Wizards of the Coast. September 4, 2014. Retrieved September 4, 2014.
  7. ^ Jon Finkel 2006 Pro Player card (from the Magic: The Gathering Time Spiral expansion)
  8. ^ "Jon Finkel: Magic Pro Tour Hall of Fame". Wizards of the Coast. Archived from the original on January 29, 2013. Retrieved May 12, 2012.
  9. ^ David-Marshall, Brian (June 22, 2012). "Hall of Fame Calisthenics". Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved June 22, 2012.
  10. ^ Justice, Mark (June 1, 2009). "Musings on the Pro Tour". Retrieved July 20, 2009.
  11. ^ "Magic Invitational 2002". Wizards of the Coast. October 17, 2002. Retrieved January 14, 2007.
  12. ^
  13. ^ Ngak, Chenda (September 1, 2011). "Jon Finkel talks to us about Gizmodo's Alyssa Bereznak (a.ka. mean girl) – Tech Talk". CBS. Retrieved September 15, 2011.
  14. ^ Tassi, Paul (August 30, 2011). "The Science of Gawker's Nerd Baiting". Forbes. Retrieved September 15, 2011.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Canada Canada
Gary Krakower
Michael Donais
Ed Ito
Gabriel Tsang
Magic: The Gathering Team World Champion
Matt Linde
Mike Long
Bryce Currence

Succeeded by
United States United States
Kyle Rose
John Hunka
Zvi Mowshowitz
Charles Kornblith
Preceded by
Canada Paul McCabe
Pro Player of the Year
Succeeded by
Germany Kai Budde
Preceded by
Kyle Rose
Magic US National Champion
Succeeded by
Trevor Blackwell
Preceded by
Germany Kai Budde
Magic World Champion
Succeeded by
Netherlands Tom van de Logt
Preceded by
United States United States
Kyle Rose
John Hunka
Zvi Mowshowitz
Charles Kornblith
Magic: The Gathering Team World Champion
Chris Benafel
Frank Hernandez
Aaron Forsythe

Succeeded by
United States United States
Eugene Harvey
Trevor Blackwell
Brian Hegstad
Preceded by
United States Chris Pikula
Magic Invitational Champion
Succeeded by
Germany Kai Budde