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I think some people are destined for fame from the moment they are born. They hold their rattle like Mick Jagger holds his microphone, they kick their feet with the fluidity of a David Beckham free kick, and they look so damn cute.

I think Sam Trickett is one of those people.

Even the name sounds famous.

He is the most successful live tournament player in the history of European poker – and by quite some margin. He is technically gifted. But his success is not one-dimensional. He is lucky; but he creates his own luck through his unmovable determination that he will succeed. In his golden years he knew his card was going to hit the deck harder than Butterbean.

Family is important to him, as are his friends, but as you will see in the following lines of text, he has to be more particular than most when it comes to opening up his heart. Too many people have touched it with their dirty fingernails. There are scars, and they may never heal.

Most importantly, Trickett is grounded. He might have the big house, flashy sports car and a few pairs of those really expensive shoes that look really cheap, but that hasn’t changed his essence. He is made of Northern lad working class stuff. That will never change, and it’s one of the reasons he is such a pleasure to talk to.

How would you describe yourself?

“I am honest, outgoing and happy. I’m rarely in a bad mood. In fact, most of my moods are purely attributed to poker. I’m also very loyal. This is one of the reasons I get so upset when people screw me over. I have trusted so many close friends. People who have not turned out to be what they say they are on the tin. So I guess you could also say I am naive.

“I have had friends who I have trusted 100%. Then, at their moment of desperation, they screw me over. It’s difficult for me to comprehend because loyalty is such a strong value for me. Each time I put myself in their shoes I do the right thing – they don’t. I don’t know how people can rip other people off and then sleep at night. Sometimes I think the whole world is out to screw me over.

“The number of close friends who have screwed me over is in double figures. I have just added another one to that list. An English pro, from London, has stung me for a large amount. I have known this guy for 10 years. Suddenly, he’s gone. No explanation, he doesn’t answer my calls. I guess I need to grow thicker skin. I need to toughen up. I need to change. I guess that one word sums me up sometimes – naive.”

Do these experiences put you off the poker industry?

“Yes, it does. It’s a unique industry though. What other industry in the world are you on the receiving end of someone asking to lend $10,000 in a heartbeat? And the normality of it is frightening. People don’t behave like this when they have money. I find them to be generous. They give as much as they take. It’s in desperate times that you see the true colors of your friends. When it comes down to a coin toss between doing the right thing, and screwing you other, they choose the latter. It’s so sad.

“It’s something that I would never do. I guess this is why it bothers me so much. Looking back over my life I have no regrets. I can honestly look back and be proud of everything that I have done. Those are the values I live by and they make me happy.”

Do you think people deliberately target you, because you are a soft touch, or are they genuine friends who then turn to the dark side when desperate?

“I think it’s a bit of both. I can normally tell when people think I’m a bit of a pushover. I know when people are trying to work me over and I won’t tolerate it. The hits that have really stung have always been from people I would call friends. I don’t think they intended to screw me. They just got desperate and when it really mattered they chose money over our relationship.”

How does having money change your life?

“It’s not as important as people think. I recently visited a tiny island in Thailand. There were about 500 inhabitants – mostly fisherman. They lived in tiny little huts, no television, and there was one restaurant. Everyone was smiling. They were all waving to the boat. I could see in that moment what happiness was all about. People get so driven by money because they think it’s the key to happiness. It’s not.

“If you are a nice person and do the right thing, you will feel good about yourself; you feel good about other people, and people are attracted to you. This creates closer bonds with your friends, family, and this means everything to me.

“Don’t get me wrong. Money puts you in a tremendous position. It allows you to experience so much more – like visits to tiny islands in Thailand. But I am just as happy, right now, as I was when I was broke and teaching people to play poker in Cape Town.”

What do you think about in the silence?

“I’m not a deep thinker. I don’t sit around thinking about worldly things. When I’m at home, especially since I have been alone, I do find myself in quiet contemplation a lot. When this happens I generally think about gratitude. I look around my home and am grateful that I own it. I also think about my future. I see myself as a father, and what I am going to achieve in poker, but I’m not a spiritual person by any stretch of the imagination.”

Is contribution important to you?

“I love helping other people. I get extreme satisfaction from it. I have helped out my friends and family. I don’t hand them money, but I make sure they have nice experiences. One time I flew all of my friends to Las Vegas, and it was such a nice feeling to know that I was responsible for them having such a wonderful experience.

“I have donated a lot of money to charity. People aren’t aware of that. I recently gave $10,000 to the Shane Warne Foundation. I didn’t even think about it. I know it’s a charitable cause, I can afford it, and it makes me feel good.”

You mentioned earlier that you have had friends that have screwed you over. Chris Sly seems to be one of your closest friends. What makes him so different?

“What makes Sly so special is he puts my interests ahead of his own. None of my other friends are quite like Sly. I might choose to party with one friend, I might choose to sit down and have a deep intense chat with another. But when it comes to the person who looks after me the most it’s Sly. I could be in Vegas, blowing a small fortune at the bar, and it will be Sly that will tell me to calm down. I could be drunk, and making a fool of myself, and it will be Sly who will sort me out. He always looks after me. He’s a special guy and I’m lucky to be able to call him my friend.”

What are your fears?

“I don’t like snakes. They scare me. I don’t know why. Perhaps, I have watched too many spooky films?

“I also have a fear of not having a family. My sister had to go through IVF. I remember the disappointment the first time it didn’t work. I was so excited, that I got to feel that pain. Then the second time, when she fell pregnant, I also got to feel the excitement. I sometimes worry that I will be in a similar position. I hope it doesn’t happen to me, because I really want to have children.

“I also fear losing family members. We have been lucky as a family. I know death is inevitable, but it still worries me. In the main though, I don’t sit around worrying about things. These insights pop up rarely. I know it sounds cheesy but I live life in the moment. There is no plan. I get up and go where the world takes me. I know that as long as my family and friends surround me then I will be ok.”

Being financially secure must help your life feel secure?

“Of course it does, and sometimes I take it a little bit for granted. It’s not a bad thing to remind myself, once in a while, that I used to struggle to pay the bills. I never worried about money though. I always knew that I would make money through poker. I always knew I would be successful. Even when I was broke I didn’t worry about money.

“It’s all about mindset. Worrying about anything is bad. It changes your mindset, that changes your physiology and everything becomes negative. You might as well face your fears, stop worrying, and deal with them the best you can.”

What’s the first thing that enters your mind when you have money?

“Losing it all {laughs}. I still have moments where I worry a little bit about losing everything. It doesn’t matter how much you have, there are times when worry sneaks in. I spend way too much. I once spent $500k in Vegas a few years back – and that was just on spending money! Fortunately, I had my One Drop success that year. Those results don’t come around that often anymore. Everyone has gone up a notch.

“I know I have to look after my money better. I realize that I can’t keep living like this. I bought a Ferrari for £275,000, and it’s now worth about £150,000 18 months later. I cold murdered £125,000 on a car. Unless I win the One Drop every two years making choices like that will create a problem for me. Fortunately, I am a very proud man. I won’t allow myself to take a backwards step. I will get on top of it.”

When you spend time with Patrik Antonious and Phil Ivey do you find you spend more money?


Do you tell them?

“I tell them all of the time. I have been a friend with Phil for three years now, but in the past 12 months I have hung out with him more than anyone else. He has become one of my closest friends. I am more comfortable around him these days. We know how much money each other has, how much we gamble, there is nothing to hide. So when he says he is going to bet so much on a game, I just say: ‘No way! I have just had a bad month!’ It’s exciting though.

“When I got into poker Patrik and Phil were my favorite players. Especially Patrik. He was good looking, played semi-pro tennis, was healthy and seemed more normal than other players. He was a big inspiration to me and hanging around with him now is pretty cool.”

What is Ivey like?

“He’s a lot of fun. You see a hint of his fun side when you play poker with him. He will tell a few jokes and have everyone laughing. We don’t see enough of that side of him. He’s a private guy and keeps to himself. But he’s great fun and I love going out with him. I never thought we would become good friends. When I first met him I didn’t take to him, but the more you get to know him, the more you realize that he is a really top guy.”

If you could keep only three possessions what would they be?

“When I was younger it was always important to me to have a nice house and a fancy car. I have been fortunate enough to realize these two goals. I know it’s not the answer you were probably looking for, but I would keep my home and my Ferrari. My home is my security blanket. As long as I have my home I will be ok. When I have had a bad day I love to jump in the car, wind the roof down, blast up some music and just go for a drive through the country lanes.

“I would also keep my dogs. They have brought me just as much happiness as poker has. When I see them they fill me with such warmth. They always make me smile. I miss them even now.”

No sentimental possessions then?

“My Partouche trophy reminds me of my most important win. All my family and friends were there. It was a magical moment. But I don’t think it would be +EV to get rid of my house and keep a trophy now would it.”

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Lee Davy

Life can be viewed as the sum of the parts or the parts themselves. I believe in the holistic view of life, or the sum. When dealing with individual parts you develop whack-a-mole syndrome; each time you clobber one problem with your hammer another one just pops up.