175 Platinum Passes awarded

175 Platinum Passes awarded

Rick Bleakley

United Kingdom

SportBible promotion winner

Before December last year, the biggest prize 39-year-old Rick Bleakley had ever won was “a portable TV in a raffle”. But that all changed when an email dropped into his inbox from the online portal SportBible, which told Bleakley he had won a Platinum Pass to the PokerStars Players Championship in Barcelona.

His was the name randomly selected by the site, whose promotion required entrants to do nothing more complicated than send in their PokerStars username to be in with a chance of success. The draw spat out the name “rickblackdog”, and that meant Bleakley was heading to Barcelona.

Bleakley, who is a web designer from Belfast, Northern Ireland, plays most of his poker in the kitchen, as a regular home-game rotates through the houses of around 14 friends. Although his poker experience is mainly limited to these games, Bleakley says he watches a lot of poker content, particularly Charlie Carrel’s streams and training videos, as well as the highly produced TV shows that made stars of Tom Dwan, Phil Ivey, Patrik Antonius, Daniel Negreanu and Tony G.

“I’ve been playing ‘well’ for a year, playing ‘very badly’ long before that,” Bleakley says, adding that he also read a few books to improve. He says, however, that he is a huge poker fan and is overflowing with excitement and enthusiasm about the opportunity he has. “Happiest man on the planet right now – you’ve no idea how much of a dream come true this is,” he said shortly after receiving the news of his win.

Away from the poker tables — and the web design business, which he has run for 15 years — Bleakley’s twin passions are music and his family. Bleakley is a guitarist and has a recording studio in a couple of rooms he rents. He has been in a number of bands through they years and describes his style as “a bit of ambient, a bit of rock”. That description probably also applies to his young family: with his wife Caroline, he is the proud father of 12-year-old Mia and 10-year-old Micha.

Bleakley says that he is considering a trip to play Lex Live in April as a means of practicing for the big event in August, where even a min-cash would make a major difference to his family’s life.

And if he secured a big score, Bleakley is not even ruling out going pro. That will be sure to earn him even more headlines…