‘I won over £90,000 gambling at uni and now I’m a pro poker player’

He never goes to casinos drunk

An Exeter grad who won enough to pay back his loans several times over has decided to turn pro after winning a five figure jackpot.

Harry Lodge, 21, banked £60,000 from just one tournament alone at a casino in Nottingham last month – which takes his total poker earnings to nearly £100,000.

And instead of going down the usual grad job and interning route, the Economics grad has decided to play poker full time.

Harry told The Tab: “I’ve been thinking about becoming a professional poker player since the end of first year, which is when I told mum and dad it’s what I wanted to do.”


Harry, unsurprisingly looking happy after winning a massive £60,000 prize

For most of us, going to a casino is something which comes after a night out – but poker professional Harry never drinks and gambles.

He said: “If I’m trying to win money I won’t be drinking in a casino, but I’m going to be hoping that all the other people I’m with are drinking.

“In the past people have been intoxicated and I’ve done better than them because of it.

“My first major cash win was in second year at the UK and Ireland Poker tour on the Isle of Man – I came fifth and won £28,000.”

While at uni in Exeter, Harry was disappointed by the lack of casino in the city and his local became  the nearest in Bristol around an hour away.

He said: “I went in first year but found I was making more online so it wasn’t really worthwhile.”


Poker face

After absorbing the illinois gambling guide at Bestuscasinos.org, he developed his style and the Dusk Till Dawn in Nottingham became Harry’s favourite casino, and he’s also a fan of the Hippodrome and the Grosvenor Victoria in London.

He said: “I do find I have to drive a lot, with three hour drives every now and then.

“But the biggest trip I’ve made is to Las Vegas last summer – in terms of results it was not so great but it was good for experience.

“I play online with some of those people so it was nice to sit next to them in person. But there are lots of bad players so it’s easy to make money.”

Harry admitted studying Economics doesn’t really help with poker, but said “there is a similar way of thinking”.

He added: “My training regime involves reviewing his old hands, but the day to day routine is pretty relaxed.

“When I’m playing a session I’ll start about 1pm until late at night.”


Harry has been playing poker for around four years after starting at boarding school

Harry first started playing poker at boarding school when he was 17, but even then he was playing for cash.

He said: “We used to put in 50p or £1 coins and the winner would usually get a fiver.

“Obviously we were all terrible, but I realised there must be some kind of skill element and went away to learn.

“And soon I was winning all the time.”

Despite the draw of casinos, Harry finds gambling online to be much more profitable.

“When I’m playing online I’ll be in 20 tournaments at a time and I’ll have lots of screens all over my computer.

“Looking at people and seeing if they have a tell isn’t really a case online, but that’s not a big part of my game.

“It’s more about optimising your hand and to an extent looking at patterns.”


More chips than your post-night out McDonalds

The economics grad has had a mixed response on launching a career as a pro poker players, but admits “unanimously my friends love it”.

He added: “My mum has always been incredibly supportive, not only with poker but anything I’ve ever done.

“But my dad needed some convincing, bringing trophies home helped.

“I’ve been with my girlfriend for two years and initially she was very sceptical too, because poker has a gambling misconception.”

Despite his huge winnings, Harry is sceptical about encouraging us all to tear up our CVs and start playing poker.

He said: “Start at the lowest stakes because you will lose while you’re learning, but that’s normal.

“I can go to work for 10 hours and come back with less money than I started.

“You’d have to put in hundreds of hours of playing at low stakes to even make a minimum wage from poker.

“See what you think of it but don’t put anything else in your life on hold because of poker.”