Introducing the October Nine - Russell Thomas, a Man of Numbers

Poker Players | estimated reading time
2012. October 26.
Russell Thomas is not a professional poker player, he works as an actuary. However, his results at the poker table demand attention, qualifying him as one of the potential surprise favourites in the WSOP 2012 Main Event finale.
Like many of his fellow players, Russell Thomas started playing poker druing his university years. While he is still not a professional player, this is not due to him being unsuccessful, rather his decision not to become one: he has a respectable civil job as an actuary, that involves statistics and probability calculations.

Thomas was born in Pennsylvania and was taught the basics of the game by his brother, who is making a living as a professional player. The two of them used to visit a larger group of friends to play, a circle to involve another October Nine, Jesse Sylvia.

He first entered a live tournament in 2010 with outstanding results: he made it in the money in two WSOP events and even the final table in one of them, finishing 5th in the $1,500 NLHE – Six-Handed for $84,256. The next year, he even got paid in the Main Event, cashing $40,654 for finishing 248th. His breakthrough, however, is obviously this year’s Main Event, where he made it to the Final Table in 4th position. The minimum prize of $754,798 is certainly his best but he has every chance of taking home a lot more.

Russell Thomas

To run so deep, Thomas’ talent for numbers was not enough, he needed Fortune’s assistance as well: on Day 6, he bluffed all-in with J8 and got called by Greg Merson with AK. Thomas got his 8 on an otherwise neutral board, rocketing him to the top of the chipcount, instead of elimination.

“Day 7 is when you really start to think about the final table. When Day 7 started out well and I had over 20 million chips and was the chip leader of the tournament, the final table was in my sights,” Thomas said. “When it was 12- or 13 handed, I don’t really think people changed their play up too much. At least at my table, people were very aggressive pre- and post-flop. When it was 10-handed, I think people (including myself) correctly tightened up as bubbling the final table would be a disaster.”

In order to best prepare for the finale, Thomas took a 3 months’ leave from his job and began to train with the help of Jason Somerville. What is more, he was signed by 888 Poker and is going to wear their colours at the Final Table.

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