Parts of the Bahamas were devastated by Hurricane Dorian, the most intense tropical cyclone on record. Seventy-people lost their lives and almost $8.3 billion worth of damage.
partypoker and partypoker LIVE head to The Bahamas each year for the Caribbean Poker Party, so we decided to combine poker with a fundraising initiative. One was the rake-free Hurricane Dorian charity poker tournament where each $100 buy-in was donated to charity. The other was a promotion where everyone who donated at least $10 to our JustGiving page was entered into a draw to win a $6,000 Caribbean Poker Party package.
The latter raised almost $73,500 and some of the money raised came from Tom Smith of the West Midlands who was the lucky partypoker player to be drawn out of the hat to win the package. Tom now heads to The Bahamas armed with:
- $1,100 Mini Main Event buy-in
- Nine nights’ accommodation at Baha Mar
- $600 room credit
- $2,000 travel expenses
Tom is 34-years-old and lives in the West Midlands with his fiancee Natalie and their two sons James and George. By day Tom is a prison officer, by night he is a budding poker player who knows his way around the table.
Like many British poker players, Tom first discovered this crazy game watching the likes of Simon Trumper, the late David “Devilfish” Ulliott and Marcel Luske on television. While that trio was battling it out for huge sums of money, 16-17-year-old tom was “playing online play money for eight-to-nine hours instead of sleeping!”
£10 Rebuys in Blackpool to the 2019 CPP
As soon as he turned 18, the legal gambling age in the UK, om discovered a £10 rebuy tournament at a Blackpool casino and there was no looking back. Poker soon became the focus of Tom’s life and you’d find him in the casino five nights a week, grinding until it was time for the casino to close. Tom moved to Blackpool and began playing every night, dealing the Dealer’s Choice cash game when he busted form that night’s tournament. Those hours spent dealing helped Tom learn more than No-Limit Texas Hold’em and have stood his poker career in good stead.
These days, due to having a family to consider, Tom only plays live if he thinks there’s value in a £100-£200 range event or if he satellites into a bigger event. He’s not exactly won his way to The Bahamas in a traditional method, but he was attempting to.
“I started my road to try and qualify for the Caribbean Poker Party earlier in the week and saw the tweet about the Hurricane Dorian charity raising. I thought how can you not give it a go? I don’t have a lot of money but helping others is what comes naturally to me. The $6,000 package you could win was just a bonus.”
It won’t be the first time Tom has jetted off for some poker in paradise because he was present and correct at the 2018 CPP.
“I didn’t actually win a package last year because I stone bubbled what I believe was a $10,000 package! Luckily, I knew another player called Ben who had won a package in the same satellite. I sent Ben a message on Facebook a couple of days after feeling sick about bubbling and asked he was taking anyone with him. He said no. A lightbulb went off in my head and I strongly believe if you don’t ask you don’t get. I asked if he minded if jumped in the spare bed and he was more than happy to oblige!”
Tom booked his flight to The Bahamas and jetted off to the 2018 CPP. He tried calling and texting Ben when he arrived on the island but got no response.
“I’m like Omg! Now what? Luckily, by the time I got to the hotel I received a text with the room number saying the door was open. Now imagine walking up to a room to meet a guy you have never seen before or actually spoken to over the phone! This is what poker players will do to play cards!”
Throwing Colette in the Pool at CPP!
And play cards he did. After busting from a $1,100 side event, Tom bagged himself a seat in the then $5,300 Main Event. It didn’t exactly go to plan as Tom busted after around seven or so hours, although he admits he was a feeling the effects of the night before each time he sat down at the tables.
“I was a little hungover every time I played. I was in paradise, after all, enjoying a once in a lifetime experience.”
Along with his new mate Ben, Tom made friends with a guy called Neil and the poker-loving pair hit it off immediately.
“He made the holiday for me,” said Tom. “It was like having a brother there to enjoy it with me (sorry, Chris!). We ate, drank and laughed together a lot. He even had to put me to bed one night at 20:00 after the pool party where I threw Colette (from the various Facebook groups) into the pool fully clothed!” Hopefully, she can get payback this year, although I hear on the grapevine she’s not attending; that can’t be true, surely?”
Poker and boozing aside, Tom got involved in the off the felt activities such as golf where he played badly against partypoker’s Carl Froch. This time around, it will likely be a different experience for Tom as he is heading to The Bahamas with his fiancee. It is the first time since their first child was born that they have been able to spend a holiday together on their own without their sons.
“I’ll maybe take the kids next year if I win the $16,000 package, but this time I’m showing Natalie what I would call paradise. We’re looking forward to just relaxing on our first trip away together without our boys in 10 years. Oh, I plan on winning the opener too!”
Before he disappeared into the ether to try out the new, better-structured tournaments at partypoker, which Tom loves, by the way, thanks to the earlier finishing times allowing him some sleep before work, he was full of thanks for several people.
“We wouldn’t be going on the trip if it wasn’t for my mum and stepdad and the inlaws as they’re having my boys for 10 days; good luck with that! A massive thank you to Rob Yong, Rachel Heneghan, Collette Stewart, partypoker and partypoker LIVE. I’m hoping to finish a few spots higher than my 10th place finish in the £1K MILLIONS event at Dusk Till Dawn. I’ll see you all in paradise, I’ll either be at the poker table or laid by the pool, in the sun, with a cold beer!”
Qualify for the 2019 Caribbean Poker Party
You can join Tom and the rest of the partypoker LIVE crew by winning your way into the 2019 Caribbean Poker Party events. At least five $16,000 packages are guaranteed every Sunday in the phased final. You can’t buy into this direct, instead you play your way from the various rounds that start at only $2.20.
There are some $1,050 buy-in CPP MILLIONS Main Event Satellites running every day from October 26th that award $10,300 seats into the Online Day 1+2. Head to the partypoker LIVE tab of the partypoker software to check them all out.
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