CardsChat Interview: From Poker Player to Protective Mask Salesman

5 min read

Recreational Las Vegas poker player Daniel Moravec has his hands full during the coronavirus pandemic. The Minnesota native is busy these days selling medical-grade face masks to those who need them most.

Daniel Moravec Vegas poker player
Las Vegas poker player Daniel Moravec scoops a massive pot at the 2019 WSOP. (Image: CardsChat News)

Moravec, who wrote for CardsChat in our website’s early years (2004/2005), is a self-described serial entrepreneur who now runs Healthcare Unlocked, a site that teaches consumers how to properly use face masks while selling wholesale personal protection equipment (PPE) products.

His new venture sells medical-grade KN95 respirator masks, more common three-ply masks, nitrile gloves, and hard-to-find hand sanitizer.

Moravec, 35, spoke with CardsChat this week to discuss his new business and what it’s like being part of the COVID-19 PPE supply chain. He also shared his thoughts on playing in a post-coronavirus 2020 WSOP.

Healthcare Unlocked is a Nevada-based company that imports products from suppliers in China and Mexico, and stores them in a Las Vegas warehouse. A distribution team then ships them off by the boxload to medical professionals, law enforcement, and smaller private businesses.

“The type of customers I get,” he said, “range from your regular consumer that wants to feel safe going to places like the grocery store, construction workers who can’t get masks anymore because Home Depot and Lowe’s are sold out, to nurses and doctors who have run out of face masks at their clinic or hospital.”

From China with Love?

Moravec says he has great respect for China and its ability to make products according to any specifications. Over the years, his entrepreneurial endeavors in natural beauty and health care products have helped him build relationships with suppliers in China, which he says has been critical to his being able to distribute so many masks at present.

KN95 masks are a Chinese version of the N95, the American standard for frontline health workers. A PPE shortage in the US led the FDA in late March to issue an Emergency Use Authorization that allows American companies such as Healthcare Unlocked to import KN95s, even though these masks haven’t yet met typical FDA approval standards.

“They are very honest with me about the situation there,” Moravec said of his Chinese contacts. “They send me pictures and video of so many things so I always have my finger on the pulse of what’s going on in China. The other day they video called me from a busy subway system. Everything looks pretty normal there right now.”

You wouldn’t necessarily know that, however, from much of the controversy and conspiracy theories around these masks. Some people are accusing the Chinese government of infusing protective masks with COVID-19 to force the spread of the disease in the US.

The former poker pro isn’t buying it.

“How would that even work?” he said. “The virus can only last without a host for 3-4 days, maximum. The products sit in boxes for 10 days while they are shipped to the USA where customs then checks them.”

Unwashed WSOP Masses

As a former poker pro and boom-era grinder, Moravec has been a WSOP regular since 2008. He says he still has a passion for the game, even though his business ventures have forced him to cut down his hours on the felt. Still, the summer is special, and he sets aside time each year to play at the WSOP and other tournaments around Las Vegas.

Last year, he cashed in three WSOP events, including a final table appearance playing for a bracelet in the $600 Mixed NLH/PLO event. Moravec finished 8th for $21,469, the biggest live tournament score of his career.

For the 2020 WSOP, if tournaments were to go off as scheduled or at a later date, “I’d at least walk into [the Rio] a few times and check it out,” he said. But beyond that, he’s not so sure he’d be eager to buy in.

“Poker has always been a ‘dirtier’ game,” Moravec said. “I have a running history of getting sick during the series in June just about every other year. It’s like clockwork and I blame it on my obsession with flipping dirty chips around while I play.”

He adds: “Then you’ve got the people who go to the bathroom and run back out without washing their hands so they don’t miss the blinds. You gotta wash your hands. Wash, wash, wash. Twenty seconds, minimum.”

Ultimately, Moravec says he doesn’t think a 2020 WSOP is a possibility. As someone who sells products stopping a disease that has a fatality rate in the US equivalent to hitting a two-outer on the river, he knows the threat all too well.

But he’s still optimistic about the future, so he’ll keep his focus on selling much-needed life-saving masks (and hand sanitizer), a business he expects to sustain itself long after the coronavirus pandemic passes.

“I am so confident in this. I’m continually manufacturing [PPE] in large amounts,” Moravec said. “I am positioning myself to be able to supply businesses with them once people go back to work and malls open back up.”

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