They say you need quick wits and ice-cold nerves to become one of London’s richest hedge fund tycoons, but that didn’t seem to help Talal Shakerchi who lost more than €1 million (£850,000) in Europe’s biggest cash poker game.
The Midlands-born financier was one of six high-rollers who staked €500,000 each to join an unofficial game at the final of the European Poker Tour in Monaco over the weekend. With as much as €4 million rumoured on the table, poker experts said that it was probably the biggest sum ever wagered in a public game on European soil.
Shakerchi, whose hedge fund Meditor has around £3 billion of assets under management, is known in the amateur poker circuits and has reportedly won more than £1 million in live tournaments over the last few years.
He began playing the game as a hobby before moving on to play in live events, but luck was not on his side on Saturday. According to the Daily Mail, the 49-year-old lost his buy-in within hours and went on to lose more than a million on the table.
He was up against four of the world’s top professional players, including Sam Trickett, the UK’s biggest winner in live tournaments with £13 million in recorded career earnings, and Paul Newey, another highly-regarded UK amateur who made an estimated £220 million fortune through a Midlands-based consumer lender.
“I was lucky to be in a position to play in high buy-in events, which gave me the chance to observe,” Shakerchi once said, as reported by the Daily Mail.
Despite losing, he was heard to say at the end of play: “Goodbye, see you guys tomorrow,” to the remaining two players, according to the Independent.
The news site also published tweets from Pokerstars.com commentator Frank Op de Woerd, who was at the event.
“While they’re playing 100k+ pots the conversation is very friendly and all 3 of them are laughing a lot. £whatalife,” said one tweet from de Woerd.
“Talal seems very unlucky and running very bad – can’t seem to win a hand,” he wrote later.
Shakerchi, who is worth an estimated £100 million, is regarded as a generous philanthropist, but is little known outside the City where those in financial circles say he is one of the best stock-pickers of his generation.
Of Kurdish descent, he joined BP’s graduate training scheme in the 1980s and later worked at Old Mutual before setting up his own hedge fund, Meditor, in 1998.
Here’s a clip of Mr Shakerchi in action, at the Party Poker Premier League VI, during more fruitful times: