When Ian Simpson won the $400,000 guaranteed Grand Prix Poker Tour Online tournament on June 5, he became the first Englishman to win such a title. The hugely popular pro was a worthy champion, and the outpouring of congratulations from his friends and peers was a sight to behold.

If you have played in an major live tournament over the past few years, you will have no doubt bumped into Ian, who is usually found sporting a smile; he’s just that kind of guy. But if you’d like to know more about him and his poker story, keep reading because he was kind enough to chat with the partypoker blog about such matters.

Simpson is 30-years old, and lives near Newcastle with his wife Emma. He’s been playing poker since he was five-years-old, thanks to his dad teaching him the basics during a rainy day while on holiday in the Lake District.

After playing poker with friends while growing up, Ian began playing online when he turned 18.

“I paid my way through university, and got myself a job as a teacher for four years. I qualified for the Irish Open in 2012, and came fourth. The company running that tournament had a €100,000 last longer bet for the online qualifiers, which I won. The €100,000 included €50,000 that had to be used on tournament buy ins, so I had to leave the teaching job I loved in order to use the €50k’s worth of buy ins. The very next year I came back to the Irish Open and won it for €265,000. Right after winning I proposed to Emma. I’ve been playing professionally ever since, but it is only in the last eight months that I have been using online poker to make a living, having mainly played the live circuit for the past four years.”

Although it must have been tempting to start playing for much higher stakes with a €265,000 bankroll, Ian did the sensible, and probably most +EV thing, and bought a house with his winnings.

Friends on the rail

Ian’s enjoyed some success at the virtual felt, including winning the $50,000 Weigh-In at partypoker in April. However, the victory in the $400,000 GPPT Online was huge. Ian told us about how the tournament progressed that night.

“Me and my pal Ashley Hunt were on Skype as we often are railing each other. I had actually been vicariously nervous as he got closer and closer to winning the Caribbean package! I think he finished playing at 1:00 a.m. or something? He stayed up until 5:00 a.a. railing me through the GPPT! My nerves from watching Ash cooled down after he won, and I just kept plugging away at the tournament. When I got down to the final two tables it kinda dawned on me that I had a real shot of winning the competition, especially as I was the chip leader at several points at this stage. I didn’t let the bonus cloud my judgement, but I think several of my opponents really wanted to get just one more pay jump throughout the final table and I was able to use this to my advantage. “LumberJ4ck85″ really opened up his game four-handed, correctly identifying that I had been opening light and started making some very good moves against me.”

“I made a play against him that went spectacularly wrong until the river card. Because he had been pushing back, I wanted to look for an opportunity to show I was more than willing to fight back now that he had loosened up. He opened four-handed and I had JT offsuit in the big blind with 20 big blinds behind. Normally this is not a hand I would three-bet shove with, but like I say I wanted to reassert myself in the tournament. I went all-in and he woke up with QQ! The flop came king-high rainbow, the turn brought and ace and I picked up one of the two remaining queens to make a straight and double up, severely hurting my toughest opponent at the final table and getting myself to a nice 40 bb stack to fight with. Come to think of it there were some brutal swings at that final table, I remember calling an all-in with ATo only for ATs to make a backdoor flush against me for a significant pot five-handed!”

After winning the tournament, Ian did what every married poker player would do and ran to the bedroom to wake his wife with the good news.

“She was over the moon to say the least!”

Vegas Baby!

Winning the Vegas package as a bonus won’t be changing Ian’s plans for the summer as he’s been grinding hard both live and online, so plans to spend some much needed quality time with his wife over the next few weeks. Good news for any of Ian’s potential opponents we can tell you.

“I won’t actually be changing my Vegas plans too much, I don’t want to go out there any earlier as I’m really keen to spend some time at home with the wife and just relax! I’ve really been burning it at both ends for the past two months. I put in 8 consecutive online grinds before heading out to Malta for a festival there, I also did some online grinding in Malta (winning an $8k Caribbean package!) I got home for less than a day before flying out to Dusseldorf for a stag do and jumped back on the Sunday online grind to try and make day 2 of the GPPT! Having failed to do that on the Sunday I started playing at 3pm on Monday to play the last few day 1’s to get myself into day 2. After all this I’m so exhausted! I’m really looking forward to just being lazy with my wife for a few weeks, especially since she has been working so hard too in her job as a teacher getting the kids ready for their GCSE’s.”

Like the vast majority of our loyal players, Ian is happy with the recent and ongoing changes we are making to partypoker, and the fruits the relationship with Dusk Till Dawn are starting to grow.

“The partnership between DTD and partypoker seems to be going really well. They are soaking up players from all of the other sites and seem to be going from strength to strength. Their online schedule at the moment is constantly being tweaked to find what is best for their players. I actually wrote a blog about their work with the GPPT.

Before we let Ian go have some much needed R&R with his nearest and dearest, we had to ask him for his three tips on becoming a poker pro. Here’s what he had to say.

“Three tips to become a pro? That’s a tough one! For starters you have to absolutely love poker. It’s not an easy way to make a living any more, you have to work so so hard at your game away from the felt in order to be successful. There’s no way I get that GPPT result without having been working so hard with my cats these past 8 months. Secondly bankroll management is key. It would be so easy for me to start flicking my money at the $2,600 Super High roller on partypoker on a Sunday. Now while I’m sure that competition is a lot of fun, it is really far outside of what a sensible buy in would be for me! It would be so easy for me to squander this money, you’ve got to be so careful if you want to see it go to good use. Thirdly, life balance has got to be something you give a lot of respect too. Like I said I’ve been playing a lot recently, I’m very conscious of wanting to spend as much time as I can with family and friends and have a life outside of poker to keep myself and the people I love happy.”

So there you have it, an insight into Ian Simpson’s poker life. You’ll no doubt see him in live events around the world, and playing at partypoker under the alias “Simpioni.” If you bump into him, make sure you say hi; Ian’s one of the game’s good guys.

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