A family of four, from Birmingham in the UK, have ditched their jobs to focus on becoming full time professional poker players.
Ask poker players if they would recommend the life of a professional poker player, to their children, and a high percentage of them would say no. The reasons vary from the difficulty of eking out a profit; stress, and the fact that you are taking from the world and not giving back.
None of that bothers the Sheils family from Birmingham.
Parents Michelle and Matthew Sheils, and their sons 23-year old Richard, and 19-year old Brandon, have bucked the trend, ditched their jobs and decided to become professional poker players.
The UK tabloids have branded them as masterminds who have uncovered a mathematical formula that allows them to gain an edge. To be fair to the Sheils family that’s probably more to do with the uneducated writer, than any actual mathematical formula – unless they are all Ex-Machina sliding down the fallopian tubes of Cepheus?
“I did my dissertation on poker, the science and math behind the game.” Richard told the Birmingham Mail. “You can see where the gambling is, and where it is not. It would be extremely silly to go down the gambling route. If you meet gamblers, you are going to make money from them.”
Don’t tell that to Ivey.
So how have the Sheils family been doing since mother Michelle sold her nursery business to start a poker bankroll? According, to the local rag they have earned £75,000, between them, since November.
According to Hendon Mob reports, the father has won $57,079 year-to-date; a £20 rebuy contest back in 2007 generating his biggest-ever win of £3,292. A certain Marcus Bebb-Jones finished fourth in that one. The double barreled pro decided to venture along a different career path. Sheils chose poker, and Bebb-Jones chose murder. He’s currently doing twenty to ten in the pen (not exactly factual, in terms of sentence, but a bloody great rhyme).
Richard has lifetime earnings of $83,015 and his best performance to date came at the beginning of the year, when he topped a 329-player field to win £26,000 at the £300 No-Limit Hold’em (NLHE) Deepstack event at Dusk till Dawn (DTD).
Brandon weighs in with $61,908 in lifetime earnings. His largest scores are two £9,000 cashes a few months apart. In Nov 2014, he finished runner-up to Martyn Frey in a £500 NLHE Deepstack event, as part of the World Poker Tour (WPT) UK Festival (his brother finished eighth), and he also finished third in the £330 NLHE London Cup at the UKIPT for £9,200.
I couldn’t get my hands on Michelle’s CV. Either, her name is misspelt or she makes her money through other forms of poker. The tabloid reports suggest she was a regular on Channel 4’s Late Night Poker, but I must have missed that episode.