Online poker players worst nightmare
We’ve all been there. You are playing a poker session, deep in a screen full of online tournaments and your internet is out. The spiky ball of death refuses to stop. You crash the poker site and try to log in again, uttering an expletive-filled stream of consciousness as your computer refuses to connect.
With every passing moment, you know you’re getting rid of all your toys
Realizing that it’s not a fleeting moment and that something is seriously wrong, you frantically rush to your modem. Maybe gonna plug it in, plug it in reboot? It doesn’t, and with every passing moment, you know you’re flushing all your toys, and the arrows are disappearing down the toilet.
It’s a poker player’s worst nightmare. Now imagine this happened when you got 4 hands of the World Series of Poker bracelet. This is what happened to British pro Tom Hall last week as he battled for WSOP Online Event #12: the $500 No Limit Hold’em Deepstack. 12 hours of grinding put him in a fray for a coveted bracelet. A dodgy internet connection was about to cost him the chance to make that dream come true.
Whiskey in Balmoral
In the late 2000s, Tom Hall was a poker dealer with aspirations of playing the game for a living. Multi-table Sit & Go tournaments were his way, as were many of today’s players, myself included. The 180-player games on Pokerstars is where I first came across “Jabracada” in 2010, calling him a “reg,” referring to his phonetic basics and ICM-savvy awareness.
I met Tom in person about a year later, first on the UK & Ireland Poker Tour. His presence was quiet but always gentle at the table, he went very deep, stacking boxes and running deep. The big breakout score was still far from him, but he understood variance better than most, and so he plied effort at his trade, three weeks of grinding online, a week on live, rinse and repeat, for a few years.
With Sit & Gos fading away, we’ve all found value in satellites
Tom had the same spirits as me and myself VegasSlotsOnline news Fellow Dara O’Kerney. He practiced good management of the finances and the game was chosen wisely. With Sit & Gos fading away, we’ve all found value in satellites. This means not only that we are all fighting over many of the same tables every night but also that we will be appearing on all the live stops across Europe.
There were plenty of short chats and dated hands exchanged whenever we bumped into each other, but after a few whiskeys one night at the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh, the three of us had a much deeper conversation. Tom has his heart on his sleeve as he talks about his struggles in the early stages of his poker journey. It was a lovely evening that made Dara and I encourage his success even more going forward.
From bridesmaid to champ
More consistency than big scores earned Tom the UKIPT Player of the Year title in 2012. In the final event for the final leg in London, he needed to come fourth to take the lead – a feat that proved too much for him at the time.
However, those big results came. In 2014, he finished 10th in the PCA and booked 2nd place in the European Poker Tour side events in Vienna. There were two more bridesmaid results in 2016 at EPT Dublin and GUKPT Blackpool. Then, in December 2016, he transferred to Eureka Prague Highroller for €194,000 ($212,826 USD).
Dara and I invited Tom on “The Chip Race” right after that score and he gave us a wonderful and emotional interview, expressing what a marquee win means to him:
The live results continued to roll in 2017 as Tom finished third in the £10,000 ($12,817) Partypoker Millions Highroller and booked another win at the €1,100 ($1,207) 888 Live main event in London. In 2018, he took second place at GOLIATH Milly in Las Vegas, and later that year, he set a new high score when he placed fourth in the Partypoker Million main event for £300,000 ($384,497).
He succeeds in finding a better balance in life
Dara and I caught up with Tom again after he won GUKPT Luton in 2022 and commented on how his behavior has changed over the years. He was noticeably more relaxed and comfortable in his own skin. He was still shooting from the hip, offering a real, honest experience of life and especially the poker world around him, but he also seemed a lot happier. After years of tireless grinding, he’s managed to find a better balance in life:
Picture himself holding the bracelet
Through it all, Tom has always been stoic, taking life as it comes, and not placing too much importance on any particular goal. He’s one of those process oriented ‘let the leaves fall how they can’ people. There is tremendous wisdom in this when you consider how poker varies in tournaments.
It made me realize that I really do care.”
In Las Vegas this summer, Tom has had decent success, claiming seven events including a final table in the $500 PLO Online PLO event. , in fact he pictured himself holding the bracelet. “I never do that,” He said, “And it made me realize that I really do care.”
At the final table of the $500 No-Limit Hold’em Deepstack, Tom knew he had a second bite of the cherry. When Brock Wilson broke sixth, he knew he had a real chance. When the hotel’s internet crashed with four people left, he saw that shot disappear before his eyes.
Tom has outlasted 2,687 players to get this far, but will he have a chance to outlast the other three? He immediately sent an SOS message to his friend, ACR ambassador, rapper, and poker player Adam Neal.
Adam Neal to the rescue
Adam was asleep but luckily for Tom his notifications were turned on. Wake up to the sounds of Facebook Messenger.
“Come on Hilton, I need you right now. I’m at the Financial Times for a bracelet event. I have a 4-hand chiplead and the internet has stopped…
I need hotspot ASAP. hurry!”
With blurred eyes, Adam picked up his phone, staring at the screen as it lit up with a series of terrifying messages. VSO News Talk to Adam who told us how he jumped into action:
“I quickly jumped out of bed. Half dressed, I ran down the MGM aisle and down to where you get Ubers. My car came and I got to the Hilton where at first the staff wouldn’t let me into Tom’s room. I eventually got there and we’re running the Hotspot. In five Minutes later, Tom reaches the top and proceeds to absolutely mash the guy.”
Tom started the singles game of chipblade 2:1 which he extended to 5:1 over the course of 20 minutes before the last hand. It was all before the flop with Tom’s A-10 in perfect form against Daniel Marin’s Q-9. There was an ace on the flop, which prompted Tom to scream No stupid literary cards, please. For Adam who was recording the moment for posterity. His Brick of Sevens turn got him afloat as he took home the first prize of $176,920 and a WSOP gold bracelet:
VSO News I spoke exclusively to Tom a few hours after the result. “When the internet went down, I was losing my power. Waiting for him to come back or for Adam to get here was really hard. To be honest, my brain is still roasting.”
Tom Hall’s poker career has always been a product of hard work, sacrifice, perseverance, and desire. Tomorrow he will hold his WSOP bracelet high and I am glad that this matters more to him than he knew it would.