A GLOBE-trotting card shark has become one of the UK’s leading poker players – after clocking up a £3.5 million bank balance.
Alan Gold, 31, has only been playing cards for ten years, having worked as a baker and furniture delivery man.
During that time the Edinburgh poker maestro has amassed the seven-figure small fortune and now plays at tournaments across the world. But it isn’t all about black tuxedos, martinis and glamorous girls – as family man Alan has to juggle the demands of the card-playing circuit with being a devoted family man to fiancée Trish and children Oscar, three, and Olivia, one.
He said: “I do have kids and it’s not always easy to balance the time spent playing. I take a couple days off during the week and do stuff with the children. I also put in a night-time session once the kids are in bed to make sure I’m putting in enough practice hours.”
Alan notched up his latest win this week, scooping more than £150,000 by beating rival Paul Febers, of Glasgow, in the UK and Ireland Poker Tour in Galway. This was his first win in a live event – as most of the money he’s banked has been earned playing online.
He added: “It feels fantastic to win my first live tournament, there’s no better feeling in poker than the excitement you get from going deep in a tournament, let alone such a prestigious one.
“My biggest win in a tournament before this was £17,000 in an online event, in a live tournament it was around £1600.”
Mr Gold has now won more than £3.5m in his career of just under ten years. He played in Marbella earlier this year and has games in Barcelona, London and Paris lined up.
“Before poker I had numerous jobs I didn’t like. I worked in a bakery, a warehouse, I delivered furniture. I started playing poker for very small stakes online for fun and it just grew naturally over the years, it wasn’t a tough decision to start doing it full-time.” But despite his healthy bank balance, he doesn’t live an overtly flash lifestyle.
“I like to take the family on two or three holidays a year,” he said. “It’s basically my only break from poker and I really look forward to them.
“It’s nice to have the freedom poker allows to go whenever I feel like it, it’s definitely one of the biggest upsides to playing poker – the freedom it allows. Nothing too fancy, just simple, nice family holidays in Tenerife.”
Online poker has exploded in the last five years and is played by millions – with the stakes bet by average players making up huge prizes for top players.
Another Edinburgh-based player who has been making waves on the professional circuit is maths graduate David Vamplew, 25, dubbed the Harry Potter of Poker due to his likeness to the Boy Wizard.