Jamie Appleton

Article by Hannah Brown: A fireman form Billericay is off to Las Vegas to play in a poker championship, after only picking up the game a few years ago.

Jamie Appleton will be travelling to America in May in order to compete to be crowned the UK Pub Poker Champion as part of the VEGAS100 tournament.

The 28-year-old qualified for the event after winning a regional competition in Southend.

He will be competing with 100 of the best poker players in the country, however Jamie has only been playing poker for about two years.

“I’m a fireman in Billericay and one of my colleagues played poker every Monday night, and he kept saying to come down and play,"

Jamie said.

“So I tried it out and I was okay at it. I didn’t have a clue at the start, but everyone in Billericay is very friendly. At the start I was using one of those cards that told me what the hands were and if they were good.”

However Jamie has picked up the game quickly, and after winning the regional tournament in Southend he’s now set to play for the national crown.

His win in August was not the first time Jamie has taken part in the regional game.

“The first time I went to the regional final I went out really quickly and the second time I just watched the chips fall away,” he said. I was winning or coming in the top four in the pub tournament every time, but people down there have been playing for years.”

Originally Jamie explained that he thought the Vegas trip was taking place in 2018 when he wouldn’t be able to go. It wasn’t until he was in the final 10 that he found out it would in fact be taking place in 2019.

“Someone said it was in Vegas this year, and I couldn’t go anyway,”

He said.

“Then when it got down to 10 of us someone said it was actually next year, so I thought I may start playing a bit better now.”

He explained that it wasn’t the prize money that drove him to want to win, but in fact it was the trophy that provided him with motivation after he reached the final.

“The trophy was quite good. When there was three or four of us left they brought out the trophy,” he said. "It’s quite big and made of glass, and it has the card symbols on it. I asked what’s the prize for 2nd, a hand me down trophy? They said you don’t get anything, apart from the £200. What I was really playing for is the trophy.”

After making it down to the final two, Jamie called his partner, Ellis Pugh, so that she could watch the live stream of the game.

“She doesn’t understand poker at all,” he said.“She knows I go to competitions in Southend and she knows if she doesn’t get a text in the first three hours that I’ve done well. When she was watching the game she didn’t realise I won until they said ‘congratulations Jamie’ then my phone started ringing straight away.”

Ellis will be travelling with Jamie to Las Vegas to support him at the tournament.

Some people will play poker for many years, honing their strategies in order to win the game, however Jamie said that he believes his success is down to good old fashioned luck.

“I think it can come down to the luck of the cards,” Jamie said. "Of course every time you get a good hand you have to have a poker face and keep your emotions to yourself. I’m quite lucky anyway.”

The watch Jamie was wearing when he won the regional tournament has now become his lucky watch, which he will be wearing when he plays in Las Vegas.

For Jamie poker is a fun pastime, but he explained that if he ever stopped enjoying it he would stop playing.

“I always play for fun. I have known people to become addicted to gambling, but if it ever gets past the stage of not being fun anymore, then it’s time to hang up your shoes,” he said. "Go to the pub, have a few drinks and play a game, that’s the sort of time to play.”

Jamie went on to explain that the VEGAS100 tournament is free to participate in, and doesn’t involve gambling real money.

“Everything is free, there’s no money involved apart from the prize money,” he said. "They do push that with no starting fee, it’s completely free.”

VEGAS100, organised by Redtooth Poker, is the UK’s largest pub poker league and is now in its 13th year.

A total of 100 qualifiers will compete to win part of the £25,000 prize pool. Included in the winner’s prize is a £5,000 sponsorship deal for the year ahead. One player will also receive the title of Player of the Year.

Martin Green, managing director of Redtooth Poker, said:

“We are delighted to finally secure our 100 players for the trip to Las Vegas. All have done remarkably well to reach this stage, progressing from their local pubs to numerous regional and national tournaments. These are the best pub poker players in the UK so they fully deserve this once in a lifetime trip to America.”

Article by Hannah Brown, EssexLive

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