The Bridlington grandfather who stunned the world of poker has returned home from Las Vegas – $2.6million richer.
John Hesp was back at his business Bridlington caravan Centre yesterday after his incredible run at the World Series of Poker in the gambling capital of the world.
The 64-year-old amateur player won an army of fans around the world with his distinctive jacket, Panama hat and unorthodox playing style.
After making the final table, and guaranteeing himself a $1million payout, he was eventually eliminated from the tournament in the early hours of Saturday morning.
He finished in fourth place, pocketing a life-changing $2.6million (around £2million).
John said: “I have lived the dream. I just hope I have spread a little light and happiness in the game.
“I have been told there are a lot more people watching the broadcast that have never watched before so it has got to be good for TV ratings.
“People do like fun. I play poker recreationally and I will continue to do so. But one thing I won’t be doing is turning into a professional poker player.
“I want to stay an amateur and continue having fun and enjoying tournaments and competitions.
“I have tried to bring a little bit of light to Bridlington where I was born and raised and where my caravan company is based - I am just sorry I couldn’t have gone a bit further.”
John brought more TV publicity to Bridlington yesterday morning (Wednesday) when he was interviewed live on Good Morning Britain as he returned to his caravan business on Bessingby Way.
He set it up 31 years ago and built it into a business with a £10million turnover but recently became semi-retired.
His biggest win before his once-in-a-lifetime Vegas trip was £785 at a casino in Hull. But he paid $10,000 to enter the international competition, after asking wife Mandy if he could tick off something from his bucket list.
An absolute outsider, he became a much-loved personality at the poker table as he made the final nine, from a field of more than 7,000 players.
John said he had no regrets about how he played on the Final Table even though at one stage he was chip leader of the tournament.
“If I have done anything, I have shown this game does not have to be boring,” he said.
“The money is obviously nice. But you don’t have to have money to be rich in life. And I couldn’t be happier.”
American Scott Blumstein was the overall winner of the 888 Poker-sponsored competition, taking home $8.15million.
The larger-than-life character had promised his wife Mandy he would take her on holiday with his riches, but had said she’d be happy going to the couple’s caravan on a park in Pateley Bridge, near Harrogate.