It’s better late than never they say, so we figured it was about time to catch up with Grande Prairie’s John Wilson, who’s most recent big finish on the felts was winning the 2011 Canadian Open Poker Championships $2,000 Heads Up. Wilson defeated 5 opponents to bag the title, claiming the Heads Up Champions title and ring, going 10(w)-1(L); losing only one game to Navroop Shergill in the best 2 of 3 format. In the final match, Wilson defeated Joel Bullock to claim the official top prize of $25,000.
“It felt pretty good to take the event down,” said Wilson, “Last year I bubbled the (formally) $5,000 when I lost 1-2 to Michael “Wywrotx” Wywrot, so this year I was determined to go all the way. I’m pretty stoked that I did.” Originally from Halifax, John told us he “really started taking poker seriously after he moved to Alberta.”
His dedication is starting to pay off in more ways than one; with this win, Wilson now shares the bragging rights of a title only 4 other players can lay claim to having won; James Lopushinsky, Benjamin Leblond, along with WSOP bracelet winners Huck Seed and Matthew Jarvis are all previous Champions in the event…not an easy list to get on.
“I am enjoying the challenge of these (HU) events, it’s a new direction to test my game in.” Wilson told Canada Poker, “I really enjoy tournaments, but the last few years I have started playing Heads Up and Pot Limit Omaha more. Both are really challenging me to improve overall as a player. I want to take every opportunity to do that.”
Besides his August first place finish at the Deerfoot Inn and Casino in Calgary, Wilson has scored around $200,000 in live tournament cashes since just 2009; finishing in the money in the BCPC $2,500 Main Event, Regina Station Classic, a $1,500 WSOP event and almost all of Casino Yellowhead or Edmonton’s major series on one occasion or another.
Back in April of this year, John also took down the $1,000 event at the 9th annual Western Canada Poker Classic, grinding his way to a $33,000 victory after cracked Aces left him severely short stacked on the money bubble. Wilson’s largest single tournament cash so far of his career however, came last year in the $1,500 Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza, where a five way deal left him bagging more than $89,000.
Online, playing as “reddybaby902”, Wilson has also had some pretty impressive results; all told his “official” tournament winnings total over $320,000. His five figure cashes include winning the $1,050 Super Tuesday, $162 Nightly Hundred Grand and $55 No Limit Re-buy; with almost 2 dozen other top 10 finishes in large field, $55-$1,050 buy-in events.
Though his largest single online cash of over $63,000 came in the $1,050 Super Tuesday, Wilson also placed an impressive 6th in the 2009 WCOOP $1,050 Event #33 for more than $48,000.
Taking on the tougher opponents at the higher buy-ins has let John enjoy bit more of the world circuit as well; “I won a $2,100 SNG that got to the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, where I had a ton of fun playing $5-$10-$25 PLO with players like Marc “Myst” Karam. I did also played all the NAPT events last year” Wilson told us, when we asked about his poker adventures outside of Canada. “I play online when I can” said Wilson, “I like the Sunday Majors and the COOPs, when I don’t have other things going on…but I wouldn’t go as far to say I ‘grind’ full-time.” Not a bad return for a part time gig…by our math.
If you followed this year’s ESPN TV coverage of the WSOP, you may have seen Wilson deep in Day 4 of the $10,000 Main Event. Though he barely missed the money, those familiar with the No Limit Hold’em World Championship will tell you that just getting past the first few days can be a feat in itself, let alone a week of “real time” into the event.
Considering his combined winnings of more than $500,000 span just the past few years, clearly Wilson is gaining some serious momentum on the poker felts. We have a feeling that this one has even bigger things in store and definitely will be following.
A big thanks to John for taking the time to talk and a huge congratulations on his recent poker titles!