John has been a very popular player in this year’s WSOP tournament thanks to his cheery personality and his even more colourful attire (loudly patterned shirts and blazers and a Panama hat), and some of the biggest poker stars in the world have been openly supporting him for bringing ‘a breath of fresh air’ to the game. Although the semi-retired businessman has been playing poker with his friends for two decades, it has always been for modest stakes, and his biggest win – which was worth around £1,500 – was achieved at Napoleon’s Casino in Hull.
Entering the World Series of Poker Main Event at a cost of £10,000 was something that John had put on his ‘bucket list’ some time ago, and this year he decided to make it happen. Over 7,200 poker players did the same thing, stacking the odds very much against him, but he has risen to the top and was delighted to find himself facing just eight other opponents at the final table.
Two of the final table players – including 26-year-old Jack Sinclair from London, who was the only other Brit to reach it – have already been eliminated in 9th and 8th place. At the time of writing, John is sitting in 4th place, with a chip stack of 22.4 million. Scott Blumstein from the USA is the chip leader, with 178.3 million, and the current small stack is Antoine Saout of Paris. The prize for 7th place is $1,425,000 million, so John’s cause to celebrate has already grown by $425,000 since he reached the final table.
One of the things that has undoubtedly helped John Hesp to do so well in this tournament is his ‘unconventional’ style, which makes him a very difficult player to fathom. He has been happy to admit that he hasn’t read a poker book in his life, but instead plays one hand at a time, according to his gut feelings in the moment. It is a strategy which has paid off massively, and the best may still be yet to come.
We wish John every success when play resumes on Saturday, and congratulate him on his amazing achievement for getting this far. We would also like to thank him for demonstrating just how useful it can be to participate in even quite modest poker tournaments at one’s local casino.