Former Sunderland teacher turned card player wins £36,500 in online poker tournament

Poker player Ian Simson. Photograph by FRANK REID
Poker player Ian Simson. Photograph by FRANK REID
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A former biology teacher from Wearside came top of the poker class after winning an online tournament jackpot of more than £35,000.

Ian Simpson logged on to the partypoker Grand Prix Poker Tour Online tournament at 3pm one afternoon - the last chance to qualify for the final stage of the £276,000 guaranteed event which was starting later that evening.

Former teacher Ian Simpson, from Houghton, playing in a poker tournament.

Former teacher Ian Simpson, from Houghton, playing in a poker tournament.

Ian, 30, from Philadelphia in Houghton, was among 4,000 players from around the world who entered the £77 tournament.

Ian, who has been playing poker full-time for four years, managed to get through to the final stage with his chip stack in tact and at 9pm settled down to play the next stage of the tournament.

Wife, Emma, also 30, who teaches maths, kissed her husband goodnight at around 11pm - after making him a steady stream of coffee after he continued playing through the evening.

As normal she had set her alarm for 5.30am - to get ready for another school day.

With my wife being a teacher it’s exam time right now so we haven’t had a chance to think about what we’ll spend the money on.

Ian Simpson

But before it could go off - she was woken by a bleary-eyed Ian who at 5am had emerged the outright winner after 14 hours of non-stop play.

“There were about 3,800 players to get through so it’s no easy feat to win,” said Ian, who was taught to play poker aged five by his dad during a holiday in the Lake District.

“I expected to do well, but not that well.”

Ian took the first prize of £36,500.

He has already scooped 265,000 Euros after winning the Irish Open.

Ian, who plays regular tournaments at Europe’s biggest poker venue, Dusk Till Dawn, in Nottingham, says he and Emma haven’t yet thought what the winnings will go towards.

“With my wife being a teacher it’s exam time right now so we haven’t had a chance to think about what we’ll spend the money on,” added Ian, who used to teach in Bedlington, Northumberland.

“I’m generally quite careful with my money, so we’ll get our sensible heads on and see what we can think of.

“I miss teaching so I know I’ll probably go back to it one day.

“But for now I’m just enjoying entering poker tournaments.”

Tom Waters, boss of partypoker, said: “Ian thoroughly deserved this outstanding tournament win.

“To qualify on the final day one and to play on to take down the tournament is a fantastic achievement.”