The first Brit to make the final table of the World Series of Poker since the introduction of the November Nine, James Akenhead has already guaranteed himself a cool $1.2 million pay day. After the bitter disappointment of narrowly missing out on a WSOP bracelet in 2008, James has enjoyed a storming 2009 that has brought him to the attention of the international poker world.
One of only three players to make the Main Event final table at the WSOP and the WSOPE in the same year – the others being Ivan Demidov and fellow November Niner Antoine Saout – James has over $2.1million in career tournament earnings, $1.4million of which he has won in the last 12 months. If he can overcome his final table chip deficit and finish better than ninth he could potentially win himself over $8million, making his 2009 an amazing one rather than merely an excellent one.
No stranger to skill games, James was once ranked 15th in the UK on the nine-ball pool circuit and it was in London's pool halls that he was introduced to the game of poker. A former train driver for the London underground, James jacked in the day job after a stint at the online tables saw him make more in one evening playing poker than he made in a year driving trains.
Now a regular on the British tournament scene, the 26-year-old Londoner has been playing professionally for three years. In addition to being sponsored by Full Tilt Poker – who signed him up prior to his success in this year's Main Event – he is one of the founding members of poker collective The Hit Squad along with Praz Bansi, Karl Mahrenholtz and Sunny and Chaz Chattha.
While James has yet to take down a major title, he has come close on more than one occasion; coming fourth in the 2008 888.com UK Open, second in the largest NLHE field the WSOP has ever seen outside of the Main Event, ninth at the 2009 WSOPE Main Event and he is also through to the final of the Full Tilt Poker Million.
Even if he is unable to better his WSOPE final table result in the 2009 Main Event it can only be a matter of time until he bags himself some silverware and cements his status as one of the UK's finest. His consistency is proof that Akenhead is no mere flash in the pan and will be an established figure on the world poker stage for some time to come.