Don’t let his chip stack fool you, James Akenhead is a legitimate threat at the final table. Despite entering the November Nine with the smallest amount of chips, the 26-year old Briton is one of the more accomplished players on the final table.
In 2008, Akenhead came within a whisker of a World Series of Poker bracelet in a $1,500 buy in event. The fire has been burning in him ever since, and now he has a chance, albeit a small one, to make amends on poker’s biggest stage.
Akenhead’s three biggest achievements on the poker stage so far have been his deep run in the current main event, his near miss for a bracelet in 2008, and his amazing final table appearance at the recent World Series of Poker Europe Main Event.
At the World Series of Poker Europe Main Event Akenhead made his second WSOP Main Event final table for the year, and finished in ninth. He was joined on the final table by fellow “Hit Squad” member Praz Bansi, and November Nine member Antoine Saout.
The British pro got his start in poker as it took hold in Britain in 2004. After etching out some tidy profits, he soon traded in his day job as a train driver for a career on the felt. His style has drawn many comparisons to late poker pro Stu Ungar, something that Akenhead shrugs off in his modest style.
“Obviously it’s flattering to be compared to one of, if not still the greatest poker player ever. I found Stu Ungar’s story to be inspirational and I hope to emulate his achievements in poker,” said Akenhead.
Akenhead will have a good preparation for the final table as a member of a group called the Hit Squad that comprises young British pros Praz Bansi (third in the WSOPE Main Event), Chaz Chattha, Sunny Chattha, Karl Mahrenholz and Akenhead himself.
The Hit Squad already has plans to be at the rail cheering on Akenhead’s every move, as they had throughout the entirety of his Main Event run.
"The support's been amazing," said Akenhead when asked about his vocal rail. "I feel sorry for some of the guys out there, they would win a hand and not even get a clap. The great support I got really helped," he added.
According to Akenhead the deep run in the Main Event was supposed to happen.
"I told a friend in January I just have a feeling that I'll run badly in the other events, but pull something out for the main. And it's happened!" said the British pro.
Should Akenhead pull out an unlikely deeper run in the Main Event, he will be on track to become the first British player since Noel Furlong in 1999 to win poker’s World Championship. He’ll have to do things the hard way starting the final table in last place with 6,800,000. But if history has taught anything, don’t count him out just yet.
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