WSOP Main Event: Ash Hussain goes for the big one

I first met the lovely Ash Hussain a year ago, right here in Vegas after he qualified with PokerStars for the WSOP 2005. At the time, he was still running the family's cushion-making business in Accrington, Lancashire, England, had only been playing poker a couple of months and was in Vegas "for a bit of a laugh". He didn't even mind when he was knocked out half way through Day 2.

It's all a lot more serious this year. After a quite spectacular six months at the tables, Ash is now ranked No. 1 in Europe.

Ash said: "I had a horribly bad beat in last year's WSOP but it really didn't bother me. I had a great time and a big smile on my face the whole time. Then I got back to the UK and had a really bad six months. I didn't win a thing and, to be honest, I was about to quit the game."

Then in February this year, Ash made the final table in a £500 tourney in Birmingham, England. It wasn't a big win money-wise but it gave him the confidence to keep going. The big one came in March when Ash was a PokerStars FPP qualifier at the European Poker Tour Grand Final in Monte Carlo. He came second, won a massive €492,000 and catapulted straight to No. 3 in the European rankings.

This gave Ash the kind of bank roll he needed to start playing major events. He said: "To be honest, I don't really like using my money to play poker. Well, not hard-earned money that is." Next stop was winning the Irish Open in April - add another €39,315 to the Hussain bank roll. And, since then, he's made the final tables at a further four European ranking events, notching up another $40,000 or so in winnings. He is here at this year's WSOP as a sponsored PokerStars player. If you're here in Vegas, look out for Ash - he's playing on Sunday, Table 79, Seat 4.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Series of Poker