Nightmare Disconnection Issues Can’t Stop Tom Hall Winning His First WSOP Bracelet

  • Tom Hall experienced connection issues while on the verge of a WSOP win
  • He has a long career of impressive results, including a 2022 GUKPT Luton win
  • In WSOP 2023, he cashed in seven events before the $500 No-Limit Deepstack
  • Adam Neal came to the rescue to help Hall get reconnected and seal the win
Tom Hall
Tom Hall has won his first WSOP bracelet despite suffering through internet connection issues.

An online poker player’s worst nightmare

We’ve all been there. You’re playing a poker session, deep in a screen-full of online tournaments and your internet disconnects. The spinny ball of death refuses to cease. You crash the poker site and try to log back on, uttering an expletive-laden stream of consciousness as your computer refuses to connect.

with each passing moment, you know that you are blinding out of all your games

Realizing that it is not a momentary blip and that something is seriously wrong, you frantically rush over to your modem. Perhaps the plug it out, plug it in reboot will work? It doesn’t and, with each passing moment, you know that you are blinding out of all your games, equity disappearing down the toilet. 

It’s a poker player’s worst nightmare. Now imagine that it happened when you were 4-handed for a World Series of Poker bracelet. That is what happened to UK pro Tom Hall last week as he was battling for the WSOP Online Event #12: $500 No-Limit Hold’em Deepstack. 12 hours of grind had put him in contention for a coveted bracelet. A dodgy internet connection was about to cost him his shot at that dream. 

Whiskeys in the Balmoral

In the late 2000s, Tom Hall was a poker dealer with aspirations to play the game for a living. Multi-table Sit & Gos were his way in, as they were for many players of the day, myself included. The 180-player games on Pokerstars are where I first encountered ‘Jabracada’ in 2010, tagging him as a ‘reg,’ noting his sound fundamentals and deft ICM awareness.

I met Tom in person about a year later, first on the UK and Ireland Poker Tour circuit. A quiet but always pleasant presence at the table, he went deep a lot, piling up the cashes and deep runs. The big breakout result still eluded him but he understood variance better than most and so he plied his trade diligently, three weeks of online grind, a week on the live felt, rinse and repeat, for a couple of years. 

As Sit & Gos died out, we all found value in satellites

Tom had a similar ethos to myself and my VegasSlotsOnline News colleague Dara O’Kearney. He exercised good bankroll management and he game selected judiciously. As Sit & Gos died out, we all found value in satellites. That not only meant that we all battled on many of the same tables each night but also that we would show up at all the same live stops across Europe.

There were lots of brief chats and hand histories exchanged whenever we would bump into one another but after a few whiskeys one night in the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh, the three of us had a much deeper conversation. Tom wore his heart on his sleeve as he talked about his struggles at the early stages of his poker journey. It was a lovely evening which made Dara and I root for his success even more going forward. 

From bridesmaid to champion 

Consistency more than big scores earned Tom the UKIPT Player of the Year title in 2013. In the final event of the final stop in London, he needed to make the final table to clinch top spot. He came 6th out of 219 players to win, his thirteenth cash of an impressive season.

Those big scores did come though. In 2014, he came 10th in the PCA and booked a pair of runner-up finishes in European Poker Tour Vienna side events. There were two more bridesmaid results in 2016 at EPT Dublin and GUKPT Blackpool. Then, in December 2016, he took down the Eureka Prague Highroller for a career-best €194,000 ($212,826).

Dara and I invited Tom on ‘The Chip Race’ right after that result and he gave us a brilliant, passionate interview, expressing what an outright marquee win meant to him:

The live results kept coming in 2017 as Tom came 3rd in the £10,000 ($12,817) Partypoker Millions Highroller and booked another win in the €1,100 ($1,207) 888Live London Main Event. In 2018, he took 2nd in the GOLIATH Milly in Las Vegas and later that year, he posted a new high score when he came 4th in the Partypoker Million Main Event for £300,000 ($384,497). 

he was successfully finding a better life balance

Dara and I interviewed Tom again after his GUKPT Luton victory in 2022 and we commented on how his demeanour had changed over the years. He was noticeably more relaxed and comfortable in his own skin. He was still shooting from the hip, offering a raw, honest take on life and specifically the poker world around him but he also seemed happier. After years of relentless grinding, he was successfully finding a better life balance:

Pictured himself holding the bracelet

Through it all, Tom has always been stoical, taking life as it comes, and never placing too much importance on any particular goal. He is one of those process-oriented ‘let the cards fall how they may’ kind of guys. There’s tremendous wisdom in that when you consider how wild tournament poker variance can be. 

it made me realize that I actually do care.” 

In Las Vegas this summer, Tom has put in a decent grind, cashing seven events including a final table in the $500 PLO Online Event 7. He ultimately bust third in that one for $41,000 but confessed to me that, once he got short-handed, he actually pictured himself holding the bracelet. “I never do that,” he said, “and it made me realize that I actually do care.” 

On the final table of the $500 No-Limit Hold’em Deepstack, Tom knew he had a second bite of the cherry. When Brock Wilson bust in 6th place, he knew he had a real shot. When the hotel internet crashed with four left, he saw that shot vanishing before his very eyes. 

Tom had outlasted 2,687 players to get that far but would he get a chance to outlast the other three? He immediately sent out an SOS to his friend, ACR ambassador, rapper, and poker player Adam Neal. 

Adam Neal to the rescue 

Adam was asleep but fortunately for Tom he had his notifications switched on. He woke to the sounds of Facebook Messenger. 

“Come to Hilton I need you right now. I’m on the FT of a bracelet event. I have the chiplead 4-handed and the internet has died…

I need a Hotspot ASAP. Hurry!”

Bleary-eyed, Adam picked up his phone, squinting at the screen as it lit up with a series of panicked texts. VSO News spoke to Adam who told us how he leapt into action: 

“I quickly jumped out of bed. Half-dressed, I ran down the MGM Hallway and down to where you get the Ubers. My car came and I got over to Hilton where the staff initially wouldn’t let me up to Tom’s room. I eventually got up there and we get the Hotspot working. Within five minutes, Tom is heads up and he proceeds to absolutely mash on the guy.”

Tom began heads-up play with a 2:1 chiplead which he stretched out to 5:1 over the course of 20 minutes before the final hand. It was all-in pre-flop with Tom’s A-10 in excellent shape against the Q-9 of Daniel Marin. There was an Ace on the flop, sparking Tom to yell “no stupid turn cards please” to Adam who was recording the moment for posterity. The brickiest of Sevens on the turn brought him to his feet as he claimed the top prize of $176,920 and a gold WSOP bracelet:

VSO News spoke exclusively to Tom a few hours after the result. “When the internet went off, I was losing my sh*t. Waiting for it to come back or for Adam to get here was really tough mentally. To be honest, my brain is still toast.”

Tom Hall’s poker career has always been the product of hard work, sacrifice, tenacity, and desire. Tomorrow, he will hold a WSOP bracelet aloft and I am happy that it matters to him more than he ever realized it would. 

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