Against all odds

Josh Rouse

University of Kansas graduate Grant Hinkle knows a lot about money. After all, he graduated from KU with a business degree and specializes in high tech marketing. However, after this summer he officially knows about it from personal experience.

Hinkle, who was born in Topeka and currently resides in Overland Park, won $831,462 in Event 2 of the 2008 World Series of Poker, the second largest prize awarded so far this year in the largest non-Main Event tournament ever. The event was his debut in the series.

Hinkle faced poker legend Chris “Jesus” Ferguson at the final table before going heads up with Englishman James Akenhead. Hinkle made his fortune with a 10-4 suited diamonds, with Akenhead sporting a savory ace-king.

The flop was more than courteous to Hinkle as the dealer turned over two 10’s and a four, giving him his full house. Another 10 ensured victory for the Topeka-native.

The KU grad has earned the fourth highest amount of money this season, with online poker phenom Philip “OMGClayAiken” Galfond, Joe Commisso and David Benyamine the only ones ahead of him. Galfond, who has made $832,319 in the series this year, earned his money by winning Event 28 for $817,781 and cashing in Event 25 for another $14,438, while Hinkle won the only tournament he has entered this year.

Grant is the older brother of professional Blair Hinkle, who also won a bracelet this year in Event 23 (No-Limit Hold’Em), the duo became the first siblings in the WSOP’s 39-year history to win a gold bracelet in the same year.

There was another Topeka connection in the WSOP as legally blind Topeka resident John Parker, who is diagnosed with severe bilateral optic neuritis, played his way past more than 700 fellow poker players in Event 6. Despite his degenerative disease, Parker is able to make out his cards by holding them just inches from his eyes.

After an eventful day 1 of the tournament, Parker began the second day with $10,400 in chips, but fell just short of making the money.