James Bord WSOPE Main Event Champion
02 November 2010
“The first feeling is relief. Then afterwards it’s like, “Oh my God, I just won the Main Event!” Then you’re just randomly cheerful all the time. I mean, I’m still pretty happy today because – hey, I won the Main Event!”
James Bord is a hard man to pin down. After winning the WSOPE in London, he hot-tailed it to Cardiff for the filming of Late Night Poker, before charting a plane to Morocco, where he won the high roller event, bringing his tally for the week to just over £1 million. That’s why we have him pegged as a 29-year-old Alan Sugar. And just like SurrAlan, he’s currently looking for talented new recruits. Do you fancy joining The Poker Farm? Welcome to the “Bord” room.
Congratulations, James. But, tell us: when did poker first enter your life?
I was studying Finance and Banking at university in Farringdon and the original Gutshot was about 400 metres from my campus. I was started playing mainly on the internet, but I’d go down there and play live cash as well. After university I worked in the City for a little while, but it was nothing special. Even before I graduated I was already making good money from poker, so I decided there wasn’t much need for a proper job.
Not many of us had heard of you before the WSOPE, but you’ve been a high stakes cash player for some time...
A lot of the UK players that go to Vegas every year – they know me because I live in Vegas six months of the year: Praz Bansi, James Akenhead, Sam Trickett, Andrew Feldman... I mean, they all know me, but I was never that fussed about playing tournaments – and that’s how you get well known to the wider public – by winning tournaments. It’s only recently that I’ve been playing in some of the big events, because I’m watching the guys win these things and I think, “I’ll have a go at that!”
We hear you’ve played in Bobby’s Room?
Yeah, living in Vegas for half the year, I’ll play three to four times a week at Ivey’s Room [at the Aria], sometimes in Bobby’s Room, but I prefer Ivey’s Room nowadays because the younger crowd is just more fun.
Tell us about the WSOPE. What were the significant moments?
Significant moment number one was when I decided to donate three quarters of my stack with nine-high on an ace-high board. Over the summer I’d played a few comps and I’d just blow up, basically. So my friends knew I was prone to blowing up, but no one else did really. And at the WSOPE I didn’t really change gears. I made some blow-up moves re-raising all in, as I say, with nine-high and this guy couldn’t fold his ace, and that left me with 100k. Then a hand came up where a player raised to 22k, the blinds are 4k-8k, and then another guy made a really large re-raise – far too big. I’m on the button with jacks, so I call. The flop comes Q-9-6 and he makes it 100k, which is pretty much all I have behind. I deliberate for about five minutes before calling him with jacks and he showed me A-6.
Just before that, I’d been opening for a lot of hands and Barry Greenstein’s way of dealing with this was 3-betting me quite hard, challenging me to either 4-bet him or fold. So I open late and he 3-bets from the small blind and I call him with fours. The flop comes 7-8-5. He bets the pot, which is like 44k. I have 88k in front of me and I reraise him all-in with the fours and he passes. So those two hands were very significant because after that I was able to get my stack back, and that was a relief because it meant I had the opportunity to play the tournament again. I’m not good with a small stack. I need chips.
There was another crucial hand where I doubled up from 4k to 8k, but from there I left that table with 1.8 million without once showing down a hand. So really it wasn’t about hands at that point, it was about table draw. I had the kind of table that I could abuse. The other table was very, very tough, so sometimes... Christmas comes early.
You’re not much of a hold’em player, by your own admission. Is it true you were mentored through this tournament by Sam Trickett?
Well, we travel together and play together a lot. I play cash, he plays tournaments. I’m always watching him and asking him questions, and sometimes I’ll play a tournament for fun – I’ve probably played, like, 12 in two or three years. In the end, you just learn. It all rubs off. I knew my hold’em game wasn’t very good, so I was happy to get opinions from other people, and that definitely made a contribution to my success.
What is your strongest game?
I like mixed games. I play a lot of Omaha8 heads up, Deuce-Seven, PLO...
And tell us about Marakesh. We hear you chartered a Learjet with Tom Dwan and Patrik Antonius...
We were playing Late Night Poker, and the guys from Marakesh called and invited us over for the $50k High Roller and offered to put us up in a really nice hotel, so we were like, “Why not?”
And you won the event! What does it feel like to win a million quid in a week?
I don’t care about the money. In the WSOPE I didn’t even know what the money was for first place. Honestly, it was just about that bracelet. If you’re a North London boy, to win a bracelet on your home soil, after coming home from Vegas after nine months, it’s amazing.
Can you describe what that moment of victory actually feels like?
It’s relief, actually. You don’t want to lose heads-up. I play heads up most of the time; I’m not a ring game player. When you get to heads up, you’re playing your game, and you just want to win it. You’re actually quite nervous about losing. So the first feeling is just relief: “Yes, I did it!” Then afterwards it’s like, “Oh my God, I just won the Main Event!” Then you’re just randomly cheerful all the time. I mean, I’m still pretty happy today because – hey, I won the Main Event!
Tell us about your business, The Poker Farm...
I’m one of the main investors behind the Poker Farm. It’s like a poker university. They teach people how to play poker – the modern game. If you go to university and study law for three years you become a lawyer. You go to the Poker Farm, you go through the learning process, you become a poker player. We take a lot of people on from the Developing World, which I think is really cool and that makes me happy to support it financially. We have a lot of players from South Africa, Costa Rica, Serbia, as well as our office in the UK. We started in South Africa and then the community just grew from there.
Poker’s becoming tougher. It’s a much harder game than it was five years ago and that means a lot of people coming into the game are getting crushed. The Poker Farm gives you an opportunity not to, simple as that. If someone offered me a place in the Poker Farm nine or ten years ago I’d have been the happiest person alive. And that’s what we’re offering to one of your readers.
Poker’s great and it’s fun and it’s well-marketed and everything, but at the end of the day, everyone knows there’s a dark side to it. A lot of players don’t manage money well, by nature. Poker Farm provides training, support and management, which is such an important thing for a poker player, and especially a developing poker player.
What does the future hold for you? More hold’em tournaments?
Now that I’ve got a bracelet, I want more – as many as possible – so I’m very interested in the World Series in Vegas now, especially the mixed events that I play on a daily basis. Apart from that, you might see me at the occasional tournament, but I’m not going to be on the “tournament scene”, so to speak – that’s just not for me. I want a normal life outside poker. I go through stages with poker. I fall in and out of love with it. Sometimes I’m consumed by it, sometimes I’m not. I’ve been playing for a long time, and sometimes you’ve had enough; other times the challenge is something you hunger and thirst for. That’s why I’ll always be a cash game player. I need to able to just get up and walk away.
You’re hired! Get yourself a place at James Bord’s Poker Farm
Fancy a scholarship to The Poker Farm? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with a minimum 50k hand sample size screenshot attached to your application. All promising players will be considered.
In addition, the most successful applicant will win themselves with a five-day holiday and training package of their choice, either in the UK, South Africa or Costa Rica.