James Akenhead, a British poker pro, is a former railroad conductor who now competes on the green felts for a living. He finished ninth in both the 2009 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event and 2009 WSOP Europe Main Event. He also took down the Full Tilt Poker Million VIII for $500,000.
Akenhead is a regular on the Grosvenor U.K. Poker Tour and finished fourth in the 888.com U.K. Open in 2008 after winning two preliminary heats. Akenhead is one of Britain’s top players, coming from a long line of pros from the country including David “Devilfish” Ulliott, Roland de Wolfe, John Gale, and Liv Boeree. In July of 2007, James Akenhead made his mark on U.S. soil by winning a $1,000 buy-in tournament during the Bellagio Cup for $41,000. He’s since cashed in tournaments around the world, including the United States, Bahamas, Germany, Ireland, England, and France.
James Akenhead is a Full Tilt Poker pro, joining fellow member and seven-time WSOP bracelet winner Phil Ivey at the final table of the 2009 Main Event. Phil Ivey, Howard Lederer, Andy Bloch, and Gus Hansen, among others, headline team Full Tilt. The site’s slogan encourages poker hopefuls to “play with the pros” and is the second largest room worldwide in terms of cash game traffic. Its acceptance of U.S. players and fully-downloadable Mac client have made the online poker site an industry staple.
Together with Praz Bansi, Chaz Chattha, Sunny Chattha, and Karl Mahrenholz, James Akenhead is a member of the Hit Squad. After Akenhead reached the final table to become a member of the newest November Nine, Chattha commented on the Hit Sqaud’s website, “All going out to celebrate now, gonna be crazy.” In an interview that appeared on Bluff Europe’s website, rumors of profit sharing among the Hit Squad were addressed: “We help each other now and again, but we’re not a business; we’re just a group of friends that travels together and supports each other. You always want someone on the rail cheering for you and they’re always there.”
2009 WSOP Main Event
Akenhead took ninth in the 2009 WSOP Main Event and was the first player sent packing from the final table. On the 59th hand, Akenhead ran pocket threes into the pocket nines of eventual eighth place finisher Kevin Schaffel. The board ran out 10-2-7-2-9, which gave Schaffel a boat and the win in the hand; it also sent Akenhead looking for the next flight to London. A few hands prior, he had run aces into Schaffel’s kings. On the 44th hand of final table play, Akenhead drew out on Eric Buchman’s A-K with K-Q when a queen hit.
Full Tilt Poker Million VIII
In December 2008, Akenhead won the Full Tilt Poker Million VIII, collecting $500,000. He bested a final table that included Juha Helppi, Dag Martin Mikkelsen, Luke “FullFlush” Schwartz, Craig Wakeham, Peter Vasiliou, and Taylor “Green Plastic” Caby. Combined with his ninth place finish in the 2009 WSOP Europe Main Event, Akenhead has solidified himself as one of the top names in the poker industry.