By Simon Young

So it’s finally here. After all the hype, the World Series of Poker Main Event kicks off today, with probably around 6,000 players itching to get cracking. PartyPoker has a team of qualifiers who have got here for next to nothing thanks to our online satellites, thus avoiding the $10,000 buy-in.

All of them are excited, and some will admit to being a bit nervous, but what is clear is that all have a story to tell already, regardless of how they progress.

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John Webley: dealing a bad beat at PartyPoker won him a seat

The first player I came across has a story that may be hard to top – and we still have three more Day Ones after today! Meet John Webley, a driver from Birmingham in the UK, who has managed to qualify here at effectively no cost whatsoever, thanks to PartyPoker.

He had decided to leave a lesser-known poker site and, while he pondered where to play next, his son suggested checking his PartyPoker account in case a bonus was waiting. Sure enough John, who is here with his wife Sue, found a $35 bonus given to him by our generous player marketing team.

He promptly went to a jackpot cash table – and half an hour later scooped $18,000 in the PartyPoker Bad Beat Jackpot, when his quad aces beat an unlucky player with smaller quads! From nothing (or a free $35) to $18,000 in 30 minutes is some
spin up, and John used his new-found funds to buy directly into one of our online final qualifiers, winning his seat to Vegas.

“It was incredible, really,” he said. “If it wasn’t for my son telling me to check my account I would not even be here. Now I’ve made it to Vegas with PartyPoker to play in the tournament I’ve been trying desperately to play in for the last four years. I can’t believe I’m finally here.”

It’s not just the WSOP that will be a first for John – he’s 52 years old and never flown before! “The furthest I’d been was on a ferry to France, so I was a bit worried. The take off was a bit scary and the landing was worse. But we’re so glad we’re here, even if it is a bit too hot for us.”

John has been playing poker since he was a teenager, when he used to deal in a home game for a bit of spare cash. In those days, Stud and draw poker were the fashion. “I used to enjoy playing myself, then when the internet came along I really played a lot more. I play a bit of everything online, but mainly tournaments.”

He’s already used his extra Bad Beat winnings to play in the $1,500 No Limit event here at the Rio, but claims he “did rubbish”. He added: “But I feel fine now. I’m going to enjoy the Main Event. I’ll play only premium hands to begin with and see what happens. I’ve lost all my aggression and rarely bluff. Honest!”

John starts on Table 41 today when the event kicks off a noon Vegas time. It’s 40 degrees and rising outside, and it’s about to get a lot hotter in the Amazon room, too. It’s time to shuffle up and deal.

Keep checking back for progress of our PartyPoker qualifiers.

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