John Hesp, the Yorkshire grandad who become an overnight poker superstar after a sensational run at the WSOP, has finished fourth for $2.6 million.
In his PokerNews interview after he bust, he said he hoped he had brought a “little light and happiness” in to the game … but said he has no plans to turn pro.
The WSOP will be going “on tour” after the Main Event ends - with WSOP International Circuit events at the amazing Iguazu Falls in Argentina from August 2-8 and Rotterdam (August 25 to September 2).
Hesp made national news in the UK thanks to his stunning performance in the world’s toughest and most prestigious poker tournament. The 64-year-old amateur, who only had £1,745 in live cashes before coming to Vegas – all accrued in a weekly £10 tourney at his local casino Napoleon’s in Hull – decided to compete at the WSOP because it was on his “bucket list”. With his brightly-coloured outfits and happy-go-lucky attitude, he quickly became a fan favourite and, by the time he reached the final table, had scores of top pros rooting for him, including Daniel Negreanu and Phil Hellmuth.
The grandfather-of-seven was railed at the final by his wife Mandy and the couple’s four children, who all flew out to support him a few days ago.
Hesp, who is now semi-retired from the business he owns renting out caravan holiday homes, said afterwards: "I have lived the dream. I have absolutely loved it. I play poker recreationally and I will continue to do so. But one thing I won't be doing is turning into a professional poker player. I want to stay an amateur and continue having fun and enjoying tournaments and competitions. I have tried to bring a little bit of light to Bridlington where I was born and raised and where my caravan company is based - I am just sorry I couldn't have gone a bit further.
"The money is obviously nice. But you don't have to have money to be rich in life. And I couldn't be happier." Hesp and his wife now plan to go on holiday – to their own caravan park at Pateley Bridge in the Yorkshire Dales. Hesp is also hoping to stage a major poker tournament in Bridlington and bring the world's top players to compete there. "I think they would love it," he said.
“It was on my bucket list wish to come here; I’ve had it on my mind for a couple of years now and I asked my lovely wife if I could come to play in the competition and she kindly said yes, even though she didn’t want me to go. She said “I hope you don’t get up to any mischief in Vegas, and I assured her I would not be having the time to get up to any mischief!”
Given the news that the late Dave “Devilfish” Ulliott has just been inducted in the Poker Hall of Fame, Hesp asked “What’s the Hall of Fame?” before adding that he had met Dave several times at Napoleon’s Casino in Hull. He added: “Dave was a Hull man, born and raised, and he obviously brought a lot of fun and excitement to the game. I loved him to bits and he was a character who was flamboyant in life. It’s very, very sad that we lost him. “
There are now just three players vying for the $8,150,000 top prize in this year’s WSOP Main Event - along with the world champion title. American Scott Blumstein is leading with 226,450,000 while Dan Ott has 88,375,000 and French pro Benjamin Pollak is on 45,850,000. There were 7,221 entries in total, creating a $67,877,400 prize pool. Play resumes at 5.30pm local time tonight with the three remaining players all guaranteed at least $3.5m.
Upcoming WSOP International Circuit events include: Argentina (August 2-8) and Rotterdam (August 25 to September 2). Stops in Campione, Brazil, Rozvadov, St Maarten, Paris, Sydney and Punta del Este in Uruguay are all on the schedule for this year with four more stops planned for 2018 including Marrakech and Tbilisi in Georgia.