The WSOP Bracelet Winner Grant Hinkle Goes Pro

When Grant Hinkle walked into his boss’ office at Archer Technology last month to announce that he was resigning to become a professional poker player, the response was not as expected. “No, there was no tension at all,” Hinkle says with a smile, recalling the conversation. “He basically said, ‘Why did it take so long?'”

Of course, the Grant Hinkle story isn’t typical of gamblers coming up with the grandiose idea that they can make a big time by missing out on a chance to earn a living. Hinkle already proved his potential this summer by winning an incredible World Series poker game in 2008 and raking in more than $1 million in total prize money. Still, it was a carefully planned decision that the 27-year-old Kansas native made with the full support of his wife, Kim.

“It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while,” says Hinkle, whose wife runs a maternity clothing business called To the Nines from the couple’s Overland Park, Kansas. “I didn’t think it was the right time to jump. With my wife being self-employed, I just thought we didn’t want to be in a situation where we didn’t have at least one steady income. But the World Series changed all that.” 메이저 토토사이트

It really did. Since his victory in the $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em event, which earned $831,462 after eclipsing the 3,929 non-main event record category during a grueling 40-hour poker period on June 4, Hinkle has become a semi-celebrity. Since his July 22 broadcast on ESPN, Hinkle, a former marketing communications professional, has been recognized by complete strangers. He attended a Kansas City Royals game last week, and several strangers approached him and asked if Grant Hinkle was the one who “won poker last night on ESPN.” He also heard from his former classmates at Washburn Rural High School and the University of Kansas that he had not been in touch in years.

“It was all really cool,” he says. “It was a lot of fun to hear the stories of people we didn’t talk to for a long, long time. They are all really happy for me.” Hinkle was vacationing with his family at Hilton Head, S.C., when the episode aired, and they had a big viewing party. “I was more nervous watching the show than I was playing at the last table,” says Hinkle, who has recovered from being one of the short stacks at the last table to defeat a group of players including Chris “Jesus” Ferguson.

“You never know how many hands they’ll show about you or what they’ll say about you. I also knew she had makeup on everything and I had no idea what she was going to say. Sitting in front of the TV and seeing myself was a surreal experience.” Hinkle said he was conscious of the fact that everything he did or said while playing at the last table could be used against him or used against him. And he was satisfied with the way he and his mother Lynne eventually met.

“I made sure I didn’t show up for either of my opponents, and I don’t think I was really excited until I actually won,” he says. “And she stole the show from the television. I feel terrible because she took more interviews with my opponent, [James Arkenhead]. She’s really enjoying this. She became a mini-celebrity, and she also heard from a lot of people she hasn’t been in touch with in a while.”

Lynn was even more proud 10 days later when Grant’s younger brother Blair, who turned professional earlier this year, won a competition held 10 days after Grant, becoming the first sibling union to win a WSOP bracelet in the same year. ESPN recorded Hinkle’s extensively during the main event and plans to produce a special to be broadcast during the main event coverage.

“I was trying to be quiet because I thought no one knew who I was because the episode I won wasn’t on TV yet,” Grant said of the main event, which neither he nor his brother could cash in on. “But every time I got a chip, the camera zoomed in on me and the microphone was hanging over my head. About an hour later, someone at the table finally said, ‘Why are they tapping you?’ and I had to explain the whole story to everyone.”

The only disappointment with Hinkle broadcasting his bracelet victory on ESPN was that only a head-up match was shown on both hands. And he thought that both hands made him look lucky, especially the last one. That’s when he pushed everyone on the pre-flop 10-4, and Akenhead made the call with A-K, but Hinkle grabbed two teenagers on the flop, and another teenager on the turn, bringing a quad-teen miracle.

“I just told them the decider went on for ½ and it just came and went through and the aggression on both of us kept getting bigger,” he says. “He had nothing and I walked a lot when I did the same. At the time, I looked like a pretty bad move, but it definitely worked out for me.”

He said he treats his new venture like a real job and is doing everything he can to get into everyday life. He wakes up around 10 a.m. every day, searches for emails, and then goes online to find cash games he wants to join. Around 4 p.m., he leaves the office, works out, comes back, participates in about six tournaments, usually making purchases between $100 and $250. If he goes bankrupt early, he goes back to playing cash games.

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