There are a lot of loudmouths in the poker world who seem to hog the spotlight at events, but it's often the quiet players who end up being the most intimidating and the most lethal at the table. Julian Gardner is one of those players.
Born in the late 1970s in Manchester, England, Gardner grew up in the European poker scene. His father is a well-respected pro player in the U.K., and it didn't take long for his son to start following in his footsteps.
Gardner learned to play at a young age, and when he was 15 he started visiting the local casinos. The rules for IDs were a little looser then, and Gardner was able to work on his game at the tables and start competing in tournaments.
The practice paid off as Gardner went straight into becoming a professional player after graduating from high school and amassed 10 tournament wins by the time he was 20 years old.
Gardner had made his first appearance in the WSOP Main Event in 2000. He turned many a pro's attention in his direction during that tournament when ran out to a large chip lead early on and held it for a couple of hours.
Unfortunately, the chip lead didn't ensure him a victory, a cash, or even making it through the rest of that first day. He busted out, skipped the tournament the following year, and came back for more in 2002.
Many people predicted Gardner would be at the Main Event final table in 2001, and though they were a year off, their predictions came true in 2002. Not only did he make the final table, he nearly won the tournament, but ran into Robert Varkonyi.
The last hand of the series is one of Gardner's most memorable - for the wrong reasons.
Varkonyi raised with Qd-10s, and Gardler called with Jc-8c to see the flop. Varkonyi flopped two pair on a Qc-4c-4s board and bet another $50,000. Gardner had the flush draw and decided to move all-in.
The turn brought the 10d, giving Varkonyi a better two pair and leaving Gardner hoping for a club on the river. He got his club, but it was also a 10, giving Varkonyi a boat and the World Series of Poker Champion title.
Second place was still a big haul for Gardner. He took home $1.1 million, making him the youngest player to breach the $1 million prize mark in a World Series.
He followed that up by cashing in the $10,000 Main Event in 2003 and 2004, making him the only person to cash in the "Big One" all three of those years.
Julian Gardner: Son of a respected pro player, started visiting casinos at 15
Gardner still plays in many live tournaments and has more than $2 million in tournament cash to show for it. But he now stays closer to home, preferring to make most of his money playing online. That's also where he manages to win his way into various tournaments.
In the past he's won his way into the Main Event, the WPT Monte Carlo event and the Poker Million. And, after traveling all over Europe to play, Gardner fully recognizes what a sweet deal it is to have all your travel and accommodation expenses paid as well as the tournament buy-in for live events.
One of his prize package wins was to the 2005 WSOP Main Event through Betfair Poker. He didn't end up cashing in the event that year, but he didn't walk away empty handed either. He made good use of his time there in Vegas and cashed in four other WSOP tournaments instead.
In 2006, he took home even more money from the World Series with three cashes, one of them which was a third place spot in the $2,000 No-Limit Hold'em event that earned him more than $172,000.
His poker interests have also branched out over the years. In 2004 he co-authored The Secrets of Online Power Poker with Padraig Parkinson and Scott Gray. The book is a complete manual of the Power Poker System, giving readers insight in how to win big playing poker online.
"I cannot believe how much we've packed into this manual," Gardner says on the book's promotional site. "We've revealed to any reader how they can win thousands of dollars."
Perhaps Gardner will someday be passing that knowledge down to a third generation of poker players in his family. Though not married yet, he is engaged to Kerry Clarke, another pro who he met at a poker tournament. He actually eliminated her during the 888.com U.K. Poker Open in 2005 before making it to fourth place in the final.
Who knows what the future may hold as Gardner continues to rack up the cash in the poker world and make his own name as a well-respected European player.