UK's Sam Holden Hits WSOP November Nine Final Table

Sam Holden
“For me as long as I’ve played well I’ll be happy and I already feel lucky to have made it this far.”

The 2011 WSOP Main Event final table is three days away and Sam Holden is taking the hopes of Britain with him to Las Vegas for a shot at $8.7 million and the title of world champion.

A 22 year-old poker pro who now lives in London, Holden enters a very difficult final table ninth in chips.

“I think this is one of the toughest final tables ever,” Holden told at the recent EPT London main event.

“It might even be the toughest,” he said.

A member of the November Nine since the 2011 Main Event field was reduced to the final table in July, Holden has had almost four months to prepare himself for the biggest day of his poker career.

“I think it’s just important for me to play as well as I can,” said Holden simply.

“The thing I don’t want to do is turn up and punt away my stack playing really badly or something.”

Previous to this year’s WSOP Main Event, Holden was a grinder who spent most of his time playing poker online. Thanks to TV time and media exposure at major live tournaments he’s no longer able to maintain such a low profile.

And as one of the rare Brits to make the biggest final table in poker, Holden has the backing of a rabid UK poker community.

“Things are definitely different,” said Holden “Everything’s strange in my life since Las Vegas”

“I was a professional poker player before so obviously the game was already a big part of my life, but I was very much grinding online sort of thing, and playing the odd live tournament but very low-key,” he said.

“And now I’ve got a lot more to do, interviews, commitments for, and it’s a lot of fun.”

There’s no question Holden has become a household name for poker fans in the UK, but he’s also gaining a new kind of recognition from people in his own life.

Sam Holden
Sam Holden at the 2011 WSOP Europe main event.

Competing for millions of dollars on an ESPN television broadcast can have that effect.

Holden is happy that people close to him are gaining a better understanding about professional poker by watching him on television, but as a true grinder he can’t help but laugh at the mainstream poker fan’s attitude.

“I mean, looking at this one thing as somehow legitimizing my career as a poker player is pretty results-oriented but no one knows any better,” he said, smiling.

“They don’t get it.”

But Holden says that while some may jump on the bandwagon thanks to his recent success, the people that matter have always supported him.

“It’s a good feeling for sure but at the same time I’d like to think that the people who are close to me and the people who are important to me were happy as long as I was happy and they hopefully won’t be changing their thoughts too much about what I’ve been doing,” he said.

His family and friends’ perception of him aside, depending on what happens next week Sam Holden’s life might get a bit more glamorous. He recently moved to London and, with a taste of what the rents are like in that city, hopes to buy something soon.

“As a poker player you can’t really get a mortgage in the UK so the money will come in handy,” he said.

He’s got his work cut out for him, however, heading into the finale dead last in chips. With just 12,275,000 compared to chip leader Martin Staszko’s $40.1 million, Holden will need a little more luck to put himself in a position to win.

“For me as long as I’ve played well I’ll be happy and I already feel lucky to have made it this far,” said Holden.

“There are loads of things outside of your control in poker so I’ll just keep control of what I can and how I play my cards.“

To get to know this 2011 November Niner a little better click through here for the full transcript of the interview we did with Sam Holden in London.

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