Twelve years after Chris Moneymaker changed the game of poker by winning the 2003 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event and turning a $40 buy-in satellite into a massive $2.5 million cash, a new 'Cinderella story' unfolded at the 2015 WSOP.
As reported here on PokerNews one week ago, 888poker invaded the Rio Convention Center with 128 online qualifiers who took part in this year's Main Event wearing a patch for the poker room, which was the official partner of the 2015 WSOP.
Although the majority of them left the tournament empty handed, a 58-year-old bar owner named Tommy Yates, who came all the way from Rhodos, Greece where he lives since twenty-two years, proved he could compete at the highest level and that online qualifiers can still fight for a spot into the limelight.
I don't think there were any tighter players than me in the whole Main Event.
Yates' Cinderella story began at 888poker when he decided to invest $0.01 of his hard-earned bankroll to join one of the WSOP satellites available at the world's second-largest poker site. Yates won, and then kept fighting for the dream. He went on to play (and win) in all further six qualification steps that stood between him and the $13,000 WSOP package. His step-by-step victory allowed him to fly to Vegas with his wife and 'live the dream' of playing in poker's premiere event.
That story was special in itself, but the best was yet to come for Yates as his great run continued at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino - where he showed up for the Main Event wearing a black cowboy hat. As a WSOP first timer, Yates decided to stay on the safe side and play as tight as he could, even when it meant he had to fold premium hands such as pocket queens and ace-king.
"I don't think there were any tighter players than me in the whole Main Event. I threw away, preflop, cards like and ," Yates admitted after busting in 486 of 6,420 for $19,500. "It might look stupid to you, but I was so motivated to pass the bubble, that when that moment came, I felt like I'd won the bracelet and $8,000,000. It was one of the happiest moments of my life."
Yates' enthusiasm was also shared by Itai Pazner, Vice President of B2C at 888 Holdings, who was proud on how 888poker's qualifiers performed in the Main Event.
"888poker players who make it to our live events are able to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience and thrill like no other," Pazner said. "This year we sent over 120 players who qualified from satellites tournaments to the WSOP. After this kind of adventure, winning is just a bonus and we're always happy when our players make it in the money. Although Tommy's story was unique, there were another 11 great players who cashed out on the main event."
Image courtesy of 888poker