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Second Place, Second Chance for Costa Rica's Steven Thompson Vila
Costa Rican poker player Steven Thompson narrowly missed his first WSOP bracelet but won something even better: a second chance.
Thompson finished runner-up in the $3,000 Six-Max event, earning $328,487.
It's by far the biggest score of Thompson's career and it's going to make an extraordinary difference in his life.
Over the last three years Thompson struggled with addiction to drugs and gambling. It cost him his marriage, his happiness and it could have cost him his life.
“I got shot because of the money I owed,” Thompson told PokerListings.com.
“When I started I was finding people to loan me money so I could play poker. Sooner or later I was asking for the same money but to do drugs and gamble in casinos. I went down deep.
“I don't even know who shot me because I had a lot of different debts. I had like three or four really tough guys that I owed.
“They were threatening me and telling me if I didn't pay they were going to kidnap me. I got beat up twice. It was bad. It was the worst three years of my life.
“Now I have another chance.”
Backer Gives Thompson a Chance
Thompson said that his life was in danger over debts as recently as a month and a half ago.
That's when he met a backer who decided to take a chance on him, clear his debts and put him back into poker.
His first stop was LAPT Panama where he finished in 23rd-place in the main event.
After that he came to the WSOP in Las Vegas where he finished 21st in a $1,500 event before making this huge score today.
“My backer told me he thought I had a good heart and was a good person,” said Thompson.
Previously Thompson had been sending letters to famous poker players around the world, asking for a chance.
“Some answered, some didn't, some said to go f*&!k myself. But I kept doing it because I wanted someone to give me the chance to show what I'm capable of,” he said.
Thompson said his son is his biggest motivation for moving forward and making sure his gambling and drug addiction stays in the past.
“I had to get out of it,” Thompson said.
“I have a seven-year old son, he's the best thing in my life.
“After I got divorced I don't get to see him much so I just want to get back on track so I can be there for him.”
Thompson says this win will clear 100 per cent of his debts and allow him to fulfill his long-time poker dream of playing in the WSOP Main Event.
“Now I can pay off everything and be born again.”