Shock and awe: John “LeNaber” Howlett on winning the Sunday Million

November 24, 2014

When talking to Sunday Million winners, you often sense there’s room for a definitive study to be written, one that examines the time it takes for a big win to sink in. For some it’s all matter of fact, a time to celebrate yes, but life continues immediately afterwards, often while jumping into another tournament. For other though it takes a day or so, maybe longer. In the case of John “LeNaber” Howlett it’s definitely the latter.

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Talking to the PokerStars Blog just hours after winning $119,919.37 in yesterday’s Sunday Million (which you can read about in full here), Howlett, from Galway in Ireland, was clearly still in the “not sunk in stage,” as he explained staccato-style what it was like reaching the final table.

“Very nerve wracking! Adrenaline pumping, body shaking.”

A software developer who plays poker largely for fun, Howlett, like many players, learned to play poker as a boy in rudimentary games of five card draw with his family. A few years ago he took to the game online, and now has a new career best result to think about. As yet Howlett, 26, has no plans for the money, but then like I said, this is still all just a blur with a large dollar sign at the end. As blurs go that’s a good one, particularly as he very nearly didn’t play the Sunday Million at all.

“I was grinding the 2x-shootout hyper turbo satellites all day long,” he said. “In my last one, I was playing more aggressive than usual, trying to win it fast so I could unregister in time. I just wanted the tournament-dollars.

“Well I won my last shootout, but I missed the unregistering by about 20 seconds….. So I ended up forced to play it – which I was angry about to begin with…. I was tired from playing for hours and hours already…”

Many hours later and all that was forgotten, replaced by a more familiar and universal feeling.

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John “LeNaber” Howlett takes his place at the final table

“I went and got food! I was starving!” said Howlett. “I’d had no food to eat for ages while I was playing. The people I am living with were not here, so my cheering and shouting went unnoticed!”

Well, not any more. A great win and a great story for LeNaber. And regardless of how long it takes to sink in, that number next to the dollar sign, waiting at the end, is going to be a good one.


Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.

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