In mid-2004, John Gale learned to play Texas hold'em. A year later, he won the World Poker Tour PCA Main Event for $890,600, and then that summer, in what would be his first-ever World Series of Poker cash, he finished runner-up to Brian Wilson in Event #20: $5,000 Pot-Limit Hold'em for $204,440. It was a nice score, but it left a sour taste in his mouth, so in 2006 he returned and promptly won Event #29: $2,500 Pot-Limit Hold'em for $374,849.
It was a great story for the man from Bushey, Hertforshire, and on Monday night it got even better when he won the 2015 WSOP Event #18: $1,000 Turbo No-Limit Hold'em for $298,290. It was made all the more special considering Gale hadn't been to the WSOP in three years due to serious medical issues, most notably a brain tumour.
"The last three years I've spent in and out of hospitals having all sorts of surgeries," Gale said after the win. "I've missed the last three WSOPs, and I've been miserable as hell every time. I'm just so thrilled to be back here even though my doctor told me I shouldn't fly. I said I'd compromise, I'll take a plane."
Gale went on to add some grim news: "All unsuccessful on the brain tumor, which surprise, I thought you had to have a brain before you got a tumor on it.
Despite his hardships (he also underwent open-heart surgery during that period), and the excitement of winning his second gold bracelet, Gale still had a resilient sense of humour.
"This is wonderful, and this is unexpected," Gale continued. "In 2006, I was probably arrogant and expected it. Sort of dismayed the year before when I didn't get it heads up. So yeah, it meant an awful lot that first one, but the second one, it feels wonderful. It's absolutely fantastic."
According to updates from the event, Gale began the final table third in chips, and he used it to hold strong until just five remained, which is when he scored his first elimination. It happened in Level 30 (40,000/80,000/10,000) when Stuart Rutter shoved all in for 200,000 and both Gale and Gary Luther called. Both active players checked the flop, and then Gale bet 400,000 on the turn, which prompted Luther to fold.
Rutter flopped good, but Gale took the lead on the turn. The river failed to help Rutter, and he took his leave in fifth place for $67,248. Not long after, Gale dispatched of Andrew "Bruce" Le in fourth place.
During three-handed play, Gale ran a play that showed just why he deserved to win a bracelet. On Hand #87 of the final table, Luther raised to 205,000 from the button, Gale called from the small blind, and Matthew Vessier came along from the big to make it three-way action to the flop, which checked around. After the dealer burned and turned the , Gale bet 255,000, Vessier raised to 575,000, and Luther folded. Gale then moved all in for 2.55 million, and Vessier thought long and hard before folding the face up. Gale showed the for a pair of kings, meaning he would have been drawing dead had Vessier called.
Vessier bowed out in third shortly thereafter, and Gale took a big chip lead into heads-up play against Luther. In the final hand of the tournament, Gale raied to 330,000 and then called when Luther shoved all in.
The board ran out a clean , and Luther had to settle for second place and a $184,481 consolation prize.
Final Table Results
|1||John Gale||Bushey Heath, UK||$298,290|
|2||Gary Luther||Kingwood, TX||$184,481|
|3||Matthew Vessier||Phoenix, AZ||$127,549|
|4||Andrew Le||Houston, TX||$91,991|
|5||Stuart Rutter||Birmingham, UK||$67,248|
|6||Nitesh Rawtani||Calexico, CA||$49,807|
|7||Mark Darner||Winter Park, FL||$37,379|
|8||Sean Rice||Cherry Hill, NJ||$28,417|
|9||Tim Finne||Tuscon, AZ||$21,873|
Congratulations to John Gale on capturing his second gold bracelet and for becoming the 2015 WSOP Event #18: $1,000 Turbo No-Limit Hold'em champion.