WSOP Main Event: Royalty dips a toe in the deep end

by Mad Harper

They were having a lot of fun on Table 44. There were four PokerStars qualifiers there, as well as Tom Parker Bowles in Seat 1. Tom is the son of Camilla Parker Bowles (aka the Duchess of Cornwall since her marriage to Prince Charles). No one at Table 44 seems to know who Tom is, despite the sporadic appearance of ESPN crews looming sound booms over his head and pointing cameras in his face. And there's certainly nothing about Tom - fantastically good-natured and down-to-earth - that would give away his royal connections.



Tom, a British journalist and magazine food critic by day, is here with PokerStars and writing a piece for the UK's Mail on Sunday. When I googled Tom (part of my in-depth research), I was surprised to find that most of the references were for Tom's recipe for Chilli Cottage Pie. Given that this might well be something Tom has dished up for his mum and step-father, I was tempted to reproduce the whole recipe but then realised that you can't really make it unless you're prepared to travel to London's Covent Garden to pick up your pound of organic beef mince.

Anyway, one of the reasons Tom was pretty surprised to be still here in the Amazon Room with $53,000 at 7.30pm on Day 2 is that he plays substantially less poker than most of the people here. He plays quite a lot online but only attends his gang's home game about twice a month. Well, Tom calls it a home game but given that it's held at Aspinall's - one of London's poshest private casinos - and is attended by models like Kate Moss and Laura Bailey and Bridget Jones film producer Eric Fellner, it's not really anything like most people's home games.

Tom's biggest poker win to date has been £500 for coming 6th in a UK celebrity tournament two years ago and every break he has come to visit us in the media room (I sense this is his spiritual home) to predict his demise in the next level.

His predictions had been nothing but unfilfilled foreshadowing until late in Day 2 when he ran AK into aces. It would've been quite something - Prince Charles' step-son adds $12,000,000 to family bankroll.

Still, getting ahead of ourselves here. Back on Table 44, before they broke to another table, they we're having lots of fun, joshing with the dealer, each other and anyone who happens to be passing by. Tom was sitting next to PokerStars cash qualifier Nathan Kelley.


Nate Kelley, right, next to Bowles


We are very fond of Nathan after he put in a spectacular performance at the first PokerStars' European Poker Tour Grand Final in Monte Carlo and only narrowly missed cashing. He was 19 then, and only 21 years old and three weeks now - which means he has just scraped into eligibility for the WSOP.


Nate Kelley in Monte Carlo at the tender age of 19


Also holding their own at the table were PokerStars qualifers Sidney Hasson, a 25-year-old hedge fund analyst with $50,000, Norman Bryan, 65, a building contractor from El Paso, Texas with $12,000 and Mike Zakarian, a 21-year-old history student with $48,000.

Now, they have all headed off to fight at other tables, leaving their poker royalty behind to drown his sorrows in a pub.

It just goes to show, being royalty here gets you nothing unless your kings and queens are on a pair of plastic cards.