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Poker Stories: The Big Swings of a Poker Pro

What does it feel like to slowly grind up a poker bankroll and then, after just a few months in Vegas, be on your very last buy-in?

John O'Shea is your typical poker pro. In a Real Stories Documentary, we see the Irishman begin his poker journey by winning 150 Euros as a drunk college kid without even knowing the rules. “If I learn the rules of this game, I’ll make a fortune,” he concludes.

Photo: pokernews

He grinds it up online, sometimes waiting for hours on weekend nights for action-seeking fish to log in so that he can win easy money. When he finally makes day 2 of an Irish Open, it’s a big deal for him.

Full of confidence, he decides to head to Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker, the biggest event in the poker world. At dinner with his family the night before his departure, his mom tearfully tells him that she would much rather see him “in a proper job… even at McDonalds, anywhere.”

He kisses her goodbye and hops on the plane.

The World Series

Just a few months later, O’Shea lost almost $400,000. With his final $10,000, he bought into the main event; this is his last chance to recoup some of his losses. He’s “done everything right,” he says, even focusing on his fitness with a personal trainer, but he’s still gone home with no money.

“I’ve been playing for six years now and haven’t gone broke,” O’Shea says as he heads to play the main event. “So, fingers crossed.”

Day 1 goes smoothly, as he gets it all in with pocket aces against queens and “sends the man back to Nebraska.” Staying positive, at the start of day 2, he makes a big bet with AJ and gets called. By the river, he’s holding a flush against a set, and he wins a big pot. He’s in a good spot, so it’s time to make a run on day 3.

The action continues with him going all-in on a call with QQ pre-flop only to see that his opponent is holding aces. The flop was all low cards, the turn was a 5—and then the river: a queen. “Send him back to Italy with that one,” smirks O’Shea as he finishes day 3 with over 500k in chips.

That’s when his luck starts to change. Again holding queens, he calls a loose-aggressive Frenchman and, despite having 92% equity, loses on the river to a flush. Trying to claw it back with his short stack, he shoves all-in with A9 and gets called by AK. With only 5% equity and his tournament life on the line, the flop brings 8Q2, the turn is a jack, and a king comes on the river. Just like that, his tournament is over.

He may have lost, but he still cashed for $52k, giving him a profit of $42k. At least he isn’t broke. “I started with nothing and built it up,” he sighs. “The important thing is what you do when the curve is going down.”

At the end of the day, we see him back on his computer, playing online poker, slowly grinding his bankroll back up.


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