Brits at the WSOP: James Akenhead
James Akenhead is a British poker pro and a former railroad conductor who now competes on the green felts for a living.
He finished ninth in both the 2009 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event and 2009 WSOP Europe Main Event. He also took down the Full Tilt Poker Million VIII for $500,000.
Playing as often as he could in and around London, James honed his skills as part of the "Hit Squad", a group of friends dedicated to becoming poker pros.
The "Hit Squad" consists of Akenhead, Praz Bansi, Chaz Chattha, Sunny Chattha, and Karl Mahrenholz. In an interview that appeared on Bluff Europe's website, rumors of profit sharing among the Hit Squad were addressed: "We help each other now and again, but we're not a business; we're just a group of friends that travels together and supports each other. You always want someone on the rail cheering for you and they're always there."
It wasn't long until he began to post successful tournament results, including several final tables. In 2008, James achieved his first major cash, finishing in second place in the WSOP $1.5K No-Limit Hold ‘em event for more than $520K.
In 2009, James was a member of the November Nine at the 2009 WSOP Main Event final table. He was the only British representative on the final table. Arriving at the table as the short stack, James finished in 9th place, taking home over $1.2 million. On the 59th hand, Akenhead ran pocket threes into the pocket nines of eventual eighth place finisher Kevin Schaffel. The board ran out 10-2-7-2-9, which gave Schaffel a full houseand the win in the hand; it also sent Akenhead looking for the next flight to London.
James won his first major tournament in December 2009, scooping 1st place in Poker Million VIII in London. The $500K prize money capped an impressive year and brought his career tournament winnings to over $2.7 million.
At the 2008 World Series of Poker, he finished runner-up to Grant Hinkle in Event #2, a $1,500 No Limit Texas hold 'em tournament. He lost the heads-up battle when he managed to provoke Hinkle to put all his chips in with 10 4, an underdog to his AK, only to see the flop come 10 10 4. The fourth 10 on the turn sealed the victory for Hinkle and Akenhead settled for second place and a $520,000 payday.
Akenhead is also a regular on the Grosvenor U.K. Poker Tour and finished fourth in the 888.com U.K. Open in 2008 after winning two preliminary heats.
The man from London has certainly established himself as one of the top names in the poker industry He's since cashed in tournaments around the world, including the United States, Bahamas, Germany, Ireland, England, and France.
Akenhead is 200/1 to win the Main Event and 20/1 to make the final table for a second year running.