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British grandad John Hesp eyes World Series of Poker $8m prize

John Hesp Image copyright Jamie Thomson
Image caption John Hesp's garish dress sense and friendly manner have won him legions of fans

A British man has a chance of winning the biggest prize in poker after besting more than 7,200 players to make it to the final table of the game's most prestigious tournament.

John Hesp, 64, will take home over $8m (£6.1m) if he wins the World Series of Poker's (WSOP) main event in Las Vegas.

The grandfather of seven has little experience and usually plays a £10 tournament at his local casino in Hull.

But he is already certain to walk away with at least $1m.

Hesp's story has captivated the world of poker, with many of the game's biggest names rooting for him to win.

The semi-retired businessman, from Bridlington in East Yorkshire, has won admirers for both his colourful dress sense and cheerful demeanour at the table.

'Freak occurrence'

Speaking to PokerNews, Hesp, who owns a company that rents caravan homes, said he had "just been having a ball the whole week".

"It's the most amazing experience of my life... it's a completely surreal, unbelievable experience that I never in my wildest dreams would ever imagine."

The father of four, who paid $10,000 to enter the 7,221-player tournament, said competing in the main event was a "bucket list wish" he had had in his mind for a couple of years.

Image copyright Jamie Thomson/WSOP
Image caption The final nine players will begin battling for the main event crown later on Thursday, with the tournament concluding on Saturday
Image copyright Lizzy Harrison
Image caption Hesp, pictured here with reporter and producer Lizzy Harrison and 1989 main event winner Phil Hellmuth, is seen by many in the poker world as a breath of fresh air

Writing on Facebook, Hesp said: "I would like to thank my wife Mandy and all my family and friends back home for supporting me in this and hope that I've done them, Bridlington and East Yorkshire proud."

British professional poker player Paul Jackson, a WSOP veteran who was in Las Vegas for some of the earlier tournaments, said: "It's so rare and difficult for someone of his limited ability to do so well.

"To get through such a large field... it's a freak occurrence that's unlikely ever to be repeated."

He added: "He seems like a really nice bloke; a good winner and a good loser. It lets people know you don't have to act like a sulky teenager like some of the players do.

"I think it's absolutely fantastic. It's great for poker.

"I hope he goes on to win it."

Another British man, 26-year-old London poker pro Jack Sinclair, has also reached the final table. He lies eighth with 20,200,000 chips, while Hesp has the second biggest stack, with a chip count of 85,700,000.

The winner of the event will earn $8,150,000, with even the first of the remaining nine players to be knocked out ensured a $1m payday.

Play resumes at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino later on Thursday and concludes on Saturday.

Image copyright Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Image caption The main event is the finale of the WSOP's yearly poker extravaganza, which began at the Rio in Las Vegas on 31 May

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