Former McCain factory worker Ashley Locker has switched his chips and now earns a living playing poker.
Ashley is celebrating his biggest win to date after the 26-year-old cashed in $49,330, around £37,199, after finishing 195th in the 888poker sponsored World Series Of Poker Main Event at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on Monday.
Ashley’s live-in partner, Lisa, who is card room manager at the Scarborough Opera House Casino, is expecting their baby in December and he reckons they will have their hands full this time next year.
He said: “It’s been the most fantastic experience. I have loved every minute of it – playing up against the best players in the world. Obviously, once you run deep in a tournament like this, you never want it to stop. It’s a huge disappointment to go out. I feel gutted. But I am also proud of what I have achieved and the way I played.”
Ashley lined up with 7,874 players from 88 different countries for the 13-day tournament.
The winner will be crowned World Poker Champion and will receive $8.8million.
He discovered poker when he was 13 when he and his pals would play for pennies. He said: “As we got older we would start to play small home games at the weekends. It was still for no more than a fiver but I found I had a natural appetite for the game and I loved the challenge of beating my friends.”
Soon after his 18th birthday he started playing small local tournaments. Four years ago he finished fourth and fifth, winning a total of £20,000 in Sheffield and Nottingham respectively within two months.
Ashley, who attended Scalby School, was in a horrific car crash in August 2013 in Scarborough aged 21 and was lucky to come out of it alive.
Last June, Ashley had to take three months off work for a knee operation and as he took the time to play more poker, he realised he could earn more money playing poker than working in the McCain Foods factory where he had worked alongside his parents, Gill and Dave, from the age of 18.
“It was a big decision but I had confidence in my game,” said Ashley. “I loved the freedom of going to work when I wanted to. And I loved the idea of the huge amounts of money up for grabs.”
For more details about the World Series Of Poker visit www.888poker.com