He may be a late bloomer in the tournament world, but John Gale certainly knew how to make an entrance when he did decide to plunge in.
Already in his early 50s and a poker player for more than 30 years, Gale made his big debut in the 2005 World Poker Tour (WPT) PokerStars.com Caribbean Adventure. He'd won his way in through PokerStars.com and surprised everyone when he went on to dominate the tournament and win the whole thing.
Proving he wasn't just a one-hit wonder, Gale went on to cash in even more events in 2005, including a second-place finish in a World Series of Poker Event.
And it was that second-place finish at the WSOP that helped earn him the nickname "Gentleman John." Though he was eager to prove himself after the WPT victory early in the year, he was a gracious loser when Brian Wilson ended up snatching victory from his grasp.
Play had come down to Gale and Wilson for the $5,000 Pot-Limit Hold'em event, with Gale the chip leader. He had Wilson down to the felt and drawing slim, and everyone thought he had the bracelet wrapped up. But Wilson outdrew him and proceeded to win a lot of hands where Gale was the favorite.
When Wilson finally had Gale's last chips, instead of acting angry or pouting about the bad beats, Gale extended his hand and warmly embraced the winner. He then left the stage to give Wilson his moment of glory.
Gale was celebrated for it the following year. After taking down the $2,500 Pot-Limit Hold'em event at the 2006 WSOP to win his first bracelet, the tournament report from Nolan Dalla was titled "When Good Things Happen to Nice People."
Those wins, along with other small victories and many other cashes in his first two years on the tournament scene, have also paid off financially, adding up to more than $2 million.
John Gale drops consulting to play poker full-time
After having so much fun playing poker, going back to the daily grind of his company wasn't all that appealing, and it's no wonder Gale decided to give up his consulting business and turn to full-time professional play. The decision wasn't made lightly, though, for the self-made man who had married a woman opposed to gambling, but so far, it's been the right decision.
As a middle-aged successful poker pro, Gale is now living the dream life of many twenty-something players. But it's also a long way from where his life started.
Gale was born in London in 1953. He left school when he was 16 and went to work in various forms of retail. Eventually he landed in management consultancy, where he stayed for 20 years during which time he even started up his own company. He specialized in helping companies prepare to go public on the stock market.
During that time he also married his wife Shirley, and they had four children - all of whom are now grown up.
While working full time he became a regular poker player at the Victoria Grosvenor casino. Eventually, he moved into online poker play as well where he won his seat to the breakthrough WPT event and his entry into the 2006 WSOP Main Event.
He still lives fairly modestly in Bushey, just outside of London, and spends a lot of time on the road playing poker. He prefers international poker games and considers Las Vegas his second home - no wonder, as he's a regular winner at Bellagio's weekly tournament.
He did say he gets a little homesick once in awhile now that he's away from home nearly half the year playing tournaments.
Along with finding time to see his family to cure the homesickness, Gale also works in time for his hobby, horse riding. His wife introduced him to riding horses despite his qualms. He was afraid of horses but soon got over it and even enjoys jumping, though he admits he's not very good at it yet.
He also owns his own horse named Clyde, whose picture he keeps on his cell phone.
Horses and Hold'em - Gale certainly fits right in with some of the poker legends from the Wild West, even if he's a newbie on the poker scene.