The online tournament scene is unfairly weighted towards American players, because the biggest online tournaments take place on Pokerstars which still accept US traffic, which makes up the majority of its fields. When the World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) started this year at Pokerstars, no British player had ever won a WCOOP bracelet despite British players making a total of 48 WCOOP final tables. That was until event number 1 this year, when Shane Hellyer finally broke the Team GB duck.
Shane147 as he is known bested 7,217 runners in event number 1, the $215 no limit hold'em event, and took down the $202,409 first prize as well as a gold WCOOP bracelet:
"I haven't received the Bracelet yet but it is on its way before the end of the year. I was told by Pokerstars that the WCOOP bracelets were silver this year, but after some talks with them they decided to make mine a gold bracelet because I'm the first British player to win a WCOOP event. I didn't realise at the time of winning that I was the first player from the UK to win a WCOOP event, which makes it even more special".
Shane147 bulldozed his way through the final table after getting the chip lead. He was really aware that many at his table were hanging on because of the payouts and decided to use this to his advantage by pounding on the blinds and the short stacks as much as possible:
"Being the chip leader, I was able to bully most players into folding the blinds. I could feel people thinking about the money, so I played very aggressively which paid off."
The story of how Hellyer decided to enter the event has shades of the Chris Moneymaker story. Earlier that day he made a saving buying a car and decided to use the money he had saved to buy into the event on a whim. After almost 19 hours of play he managed to turn that £100 he saved into a $202,409 pay day.
"My life hasn't changed that much since the win, except obviously I have a lot more in the bank now. I am hoping to buy a new car at the end of the year though, which is ironic"
Maybe even more interesting is the story of how Shane147 got into the game in the first place, like many of the big players in the UK, he comes from a snooker background and actually took up poker after meeting snooker and poker legend Steve Davis:
"I'm a semi professional snooker player and first got into poker game via Steve Davis. I first met him at a pub where he was playing in exhibition and I played a frame with him, which I am very glad to say I won. My online name, Shane147, comes from the maximum break in snooker, but my own personal maximum is 93."
"My friend Luke Simmonds is a pro snooker player and I had met Steve a few more times in his home town of Basildon while Luke was practising there. Steve was playing cards in the bar when we walked into the snooker clubs and that's where I first got into the game. I started playing online, booked a $5000 win from a 365 person MTT and that's when I started to become confident as a poker player."
But the 27 year old blade technician is treading very carefully before he decides to turn his new $202,000 into a professional poker player's bankroll:
"Well, there is obviously a lot of money to be made in poker and turning professional sounds really good, but it would be very difficult. To really make it as a professional tournament player you need a sponsor to cover your tournament fees (Hint Hint Pokerstars)."
But he has been venturing out into the world of live poker since the win, coming from the Isle of Wight he doesn't have the best choice of tournaments to play, but thankfully Pokerstars run a tournament thats just a boat ride away:
"I entered the EPT London, which was my first live event and I got off to a great start, I was only 5 minutes off day 2 after playing for about 10 hours with over 200 knocked out but lost an allin late on. I was getting low in chips so I made a move because I didn't want to start day 2 below the average. Looking back I think I could have played better"
We are sure you will see Shane147 make a further impact on the live and online scene in 2009 and we will make sure to keep away from any events he plays at the end of the year if he makes a saving on the new car he buys. It could be a very long time before another Brit wins a WCOOP bracelet, which really is like the WSOP of online poker, so Shane Hellyer is in a very exclusive club indeed in online poker.