All the members of a family of four have quit their jobs to play poker at the professional level. Matthew and Michelle Shiels and their sons Brandon and Richard are now highly skilled at playing poker as they spend a lot of time playing at Edington in Birmingham. Last week, Brandon, aged 19, collected a prize of £9,200 after taking part in the London leg of the UK and Ireland Poker Tour.
Richard, who graduated from Birmingham University, has done even better. The 23-year-old professional poker player has collected £27,000 in the deep stack tournament, which was held at Dusk Till Dawn in Nottingham. He played against 328 players for a period of 24 hours and emerged as the last man standing.
Richard and Brandon play under the guidance of their parents, Michelle, who had a nursery business, and Matthew, who formerly worked as an accountant. The family says that they play on the basis of a mathematical formula, which has nothing to do with chance.
Richard, who started taking poker seriously in 2012, said that the family draws “a fine line between gambling and poker.” He said: “I did my dissertation on poker, the science and maths behind the game. 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.”
At the same time, he admitted that players need luck to win. He said that he wouldn’t be able to beat his opponents all the time, but would definitely beat them at least fifty percent of the time and make a profit.
Stating that he had begun playing poker when he was very young, he says the game is now “all about maths and theory.” He said that he taught his brother how to play poker, adding that he is now improving a lot. He said: “My ambition is to be good enough to play for a living, but rich enough not to have to.”
Their parents have appeared on TV poker shows. Michelle has featured on Late Night Poker, a TV poker show on Channel 4. She admits that their sons play poker much better and says that she hasn’t made any specific plans for the future.