With his shock of curly red locks and boyish looks, poker player Sam Holden stormed onto the international poker stage with his 9th place finish in the 2011 World Series of Poker Main Event (the one that Pius Heinz won). He followed that up with a super deep run the following year, finishing 55th in the Main Event, helping him secure a position as a full time 888poker sponsored pro. This weekend, Holden announced, via his blog on the 888poker website, that he had “lost a lot of drive to play poker” and was stepping away from the game in “semi-retirement” to focus on a philosophy degree from the University of Kent.
Holden, who as racked up more than 1.1 million in live tournament earnings since 2010, will not be altogether absent, as he’s planning on playing the “odd live tournament” but now it will be without the responsibility that comes with being sponsored. The opportunities afforded Sam are not lost on him.
I’ve spent four incredible years playing poker full time and I never dreamt that my favourite card game could give me so many opportunities and experiences. Being able to travel the world, record television programmes, meet people from every corner of the globe and enjoy some of the best restaurants and clubs, all while earning money playing a game, is a privilege not lost on me, and a journey that has taught me a lot.
Holden started his poker career, not really sure what he wanted to do with his life at the time and he found the life of a pro player appealing. But nowadays, he’s not as concerned with financial security and in the long run he’d “never really seen poker as a long term option.” Additionally, Holden found that the “baller” lifestyle may have been a little lost on him.
he fancy clubs, restaurants and hotels were a lot of fun but I realised quickly that the things that matter most to me, are the relationships with my friends. Their company and intelligence, their insight and their humour. The truth is that I couldn’t really care less where we go, as long as the company is good. A cheap pub will do just fine.
In the end, Holden is just looking to improv himself as a person and his life in general and, for him, he feels that another field, perhaps academia, he can find a passion in while being able to make a difference.
For Holden’s entire statement and to read more of what’s next, check out his 'resignation post’ over at 888.