Sam Trickett

A reporter recently asked former professional footballer Sam Trickett, “If you could change anything in the world, what would it be?” Trickett didn’t hesitate for a second when he replied. “My knee. I recently had my knee re-constructed and it has stopped me playing football for a living.”

No doubt, the 26-year-old Trickett misses the sport he was so passionate about in his youth and regrets the injury that permanently benched him. But if the Nottinghamshire native was still out on the field instead of sitting at the card table, Britain would have been deprived of its most successful poker player in history.

From Good to Great

However good Sam “Tricky” Trickett might have been with a soccer ball, he is infinitely better with a deck of 52 playing cards. He got his inaugural first place finish in May 2007 playing £100 No Limit Hold’em at the Great British Poker Tour in Nottingham. Three months later, he finished first again, this time at the £300 No Limit Hold’em event as part of Sheffield’s Summer Festival.

By June 2008, he had gained enough experience and success to enter the $5,000 No Limit Hold’em event at the 39th World Series of Poker (WSOP) in Las Vegas. There, he placed 4th overall for a prize worth $245,927 and immediately gained recognition as one of the true rising stars of the international poker scene.

Over the next two years, Trickett honed his skills on the U.K. Poker Tour and the Coral British Masters Poker Tour. When he returned to Las Vegas for the 2010 WSOP, he was hitting his stride, cashing in six different events, including the runner-up spot in the $5,000 No Limit Hold’em event for $505,725 in earnings. Later that year, he won the $10,000 No Limit Hold’em World Open VI tournament in London, worth $200,000.

Then came the really big money. Trickett headed down to the Crown Casino in Melbourne, Australia to participate in the 2011 Aussie Millions Poker Championship. He entered the A$100,000 No Limit Hold’em event and held off 37 opponents, including America’s veteran Eric Seidel and Australia’s young phenomenon James Obst, to take the top prize worth just over $1.5 million. Five days later, he came in second to Seidel in the A$250,000 Super High Roller No Limit Hold’em even to score $1.3 million more.

Joining Poker’s Elite Ranks

At the 2011 WSOP, Trickett cashed twice but was unable to claim his elusive first-ever championship bracelet. He had better luck in September in Cannes, where the €8,500 No Limit Hold’em – Main Event attracted 579 entrants as part of the Partouche Poker Tour held at the Palm Beach Casino. Trickett outlasted them all to pocket just over $1.3 million.

Playing for and winning such huge prizes had given Trickett a confidence in his play that spurred him to enter the biggest single poker event ever conducted, the Big One for One Drop event at the 2012 WSOP in Las Vegas. The entry fee was a cool $1 million, more than any event had ever commanded. But the top prize would make the winner the biggest money winner in the world overnight, so it was certainly worth taking up the challenge.

Although Trickett didn’t triumph in the Big One, he did finish right behind the winner, Las Vegan Antonio Esfandiari. Second place was worth an astounding $10.1 million, making Sam Trickett the most successful U.K. poker player ever and bringing his lifetime tournament winnings to over $17.4 million. He is now right behind Esfandiari, Phil Ivey and Phil Hellmuth on the all-time leaders list—not bad at all for a footballer with a bum knee. Surely, there is a WSOP bracelet in his future, too.