With its accessible buy-in and relaxed atmosphere, many poker players came to the recent 888Live London festival just for the experience.
For Newcastle's Jonathan Bowers, it was a chance to break through into bigger and greater things.
Bowers was a student when he started playing poker back in 2013. He acquired his first live poker experience at the Circus Casino where he played plenty of low-stakes tournaments.
He went on to take a job as a data analyst but his idea of a career, at least since he turned 18, was based around poker all the time.
“I just got the bug right away," he says, "and it just went from there.”
Time to Make the Leap
Bowers played dozens of under £50 tourneys at the Circus in 2013 to hone his skills before he moved on to bigger buy-ins.
He also met his now-girlfriend through poker and they now travel and play together -- although they try to avoid each other at the table.
About eight months ago Bowers eventually (and after a lot of hesitation) quit his job while his girlfriend Beth put her medical studies on hold.
They went to Malta first where Jonathan finished 11th in the MPNPT main event.
They then went on to Sin City itself where Bowers managed to clinch a first big cash when he finished 2nd for $15k in a $400 tournament at the famous Aria.
“It Was a Risk, but it Paid Off”
Bowers got lucky. Dropping out of a day job to pursue poker full-time has been the demise of many a poker player. But it worked for him.
After travelling to Malta and then spending three month in the US, Jonathan and Beth came back to England and ventured out to play the 888Live festival at the Aspers Casino in East London.
Bowers registered for the £2,200 High Roller event against players like 888poker pro Chris Moorman, the most successful online tournament player of all time.
Bowers made it to the final table and finally found himself playing heads-up against Jamie Lunt. Lunt prevailed and took the title but Bowers earned the highest pay check as he ahead in chips when they agreed on a deal.
Bowers came out of that tournament with around €40k in his wallet and it looks like he’s not going to go back to his old job.
“I don’t miss early mornings," he says, "and getting up to work 9-5s at all.”
Still Down to Fate
Jonathan and Beth's living costs are comparatively low as, when they’re not on the road, they live with Beth’s mom -- a rather unusual lifestyle for a poker pro.
Beth will at some point go back to University and finish her studies but she hasn’t made a decision yet. But she finds some surprising parallels between poker and medicine.
“You use all the knowledge you have," she says, "but still it is down to fate if you win or if the patient gets better.”
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