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Ian Simpson – Heading Back to Barcelona with 888poker

By Paul Seaton
May 07, 2024

The last time Ian Simpson went to Barcelona, he cashed. In fact, he’d done so four of the previous five visits. But the most recent was almost exactly a year ago, about one year into his current term as an 888poker ambassador.

“I came fifth in the high roller last year, in the 888poker event. I just need to go four places further, easy!” he laughs.

Ian Simpson laughs plenty.

Ian Simpson

Ian Simpson is heading back to Barcelona with 888poker… will you be there, too?

Ian Simpson, The Family Man, Moves to 888poker

Poker began as a passionate pursuit of Ian Simpson 10 years ago when he was a young man with the world at his feet. Ten years on, the young man has become a father, found that family that brings out the best in him and he is most passionate when speaking about his wife and daughter.

If he’s enjoyed changes away from the felt, the switch from Unibet to 888poker was difficult because of the relationships he’d built up with firm friends.

“I loved Unibet. It changed a little bit towards the end, but I had great friends and I was still nervous joining 888poker because they were a new team.”

Thankfully, Simpson’s magnetic personality had met with more friendly folks at 888poker who, for many years, have been known as the poker brand who truly put the recreational players who play their events first.

“It’s been class,” Simpson says. “When you’re joining a new team, you never know! But they’ve all been absolutely lovely. They’ve got an ambassador team and a stream team but the lines are blurred and everyone are ambassadors, they’re all really special.”

Simpson’s experiences of Barcelona are almost all positive ones. Almost.

“The first time was at EPT Barcelona and I was fresh into poker. I ate undercooked meat somewhere and it put me in a bad mood! Every time I’ve been back since it’s been amazing. Barcelona and Madrid are lush – you see exciting cities and get to sample fantastic food.”

Ian Simpson

A Poker Playing Life on Live Stream

“There are poker players who are trying to be zen and emotionless. I get it, but if you win anything, enjoy it!”

At the felt, Ian Simpson is boxed in locked in and ready to rule. But outside of a hand, and playing 888poker events online, via his Twitch channel, which has over 13,200 subscribers, he’s a hoot, reacting to every card, living every flop, turn and especially river. He’s a highly engaging personality and suits streaming down to the ground.

“It’s the best thing – there are poker players who are trying to be zen and emotionless all the time. I get it, but at the same time, if you win anything at this game, enjoy it! We spend a lot of time suppressing our emotions when we lose pots, but you’re going to feel it anyway, so enjoy it when you get to win.”

Looking back on his first 10 years in the game, Simpson can’t see past the 2013 Irish Open and it’s not difficult to see why. Winning the tournament for a career-high score of just under $340,000, Simpson’s success was amplified even more when he proposed to his then-girlfriend and now wife Emma as the confetti fell.

Ian Simpson Irish Open proposal 2013

Ian’s proposal at the Irish Open in 2013 | Photo credit: paddypowerpoker.com

“I don’t think anything will top the Irish Open,” he says, showing me the photograph that sits next to him while he streams in his office. It’s the moment he proposed to Emma and one of the happiest moments of his life.

“Even without proposing to Emma – August 16th this year, it’ll be 10 years – it’s the Irish Open. Its iconic, but nothing will get close to that. It was before Twitch and all that. I’ve got a friend who got the footage onto a DVD for me.”

For someone so cool and collected, I wonder if such a pleasant, happy and seemingly content man ever experiences tilt.

“I’m still human!” he laughs. “There’s a hole in the wall right here where I lost the hand and just punched it. It’s a nice reminder.”

Life tilt doesn’t get him – it’s too idyllic being around his young family – but poker still drives him on and its clear that the passion of his youngest years in the game still burn bright now that he is with 888poker and forging ahead in the live arena.

Homesickness and Heroics

“I tend to go, get my head down and really focus on the poker.”

Ten years ago, Simpson had never been to stops like Barcelona, Madrid or even Dublin. They were exciting new places to visit, and he’d head out early to explore each city. Things have changed considerably. These days, it’s harder to take himself away from the home comforts of streaming 888poker games online and sharing time with those closest to him.

“These days, that’s time away from family so I tend to go, get my head down and really focus on the poker. I got really homesick last World Series, it’s an extra emotional hurdle to navigate when I’m on the road.”

Thankfully, Simpson is organised and highly focused on juggling life as a father and poker professional. He’s ‘pretty good at not missing big occasions’ and says that it came as a silver lining that he and Emma’s daughter Adeline was born during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I didn’t miss her first words or her walking. As far as now, I’ve recently realised that EPT Barcelona clashes with Adeline’s first day of primary school, so I won’t be going to the Main Event, it’s not even close to being comparable. I can go the week before and play a $1k or a $2k.”

Ian Simpson 888poker ambassador

Ian Simpson with the three cards that represent his new poker team, 888poker!

Ambitions and Aspirations

“I want to play some bigger, scarier buy-ins. I’ve been working on my game.”

With so many poker professionals, you can identify a ‘purple patch’ where they were highly focused, and this is often followed by a tail-off. With Simpson, however, this doesn’t seem true. His biggest win was a decade ago, but since then, he’s added almost $1 million in winnings. He’s on the cusp of returning to being one of the top 100 English players in poker history.

“It’s a scoreboard right, I want to climb it! I used to be in the top 100, I’m literally opening The Hendon Mob to look at the list. I definitely got a hunger for Main Events like a $5k or $10k entry level. I want to play some bigger, scarier buy-ins. I’ve been working on my game and studying really hard.”

Simpson works hard with friends and his peer-group is a very strong, supportive one. He credits his wife’s new job as deputy headteacher as being inspiring, both in terms of her achievement and the role’s stability on their day-to-day lives.

“She’s doing fantastically well for herself. We’re safe month to month, so I’ve got a little bit more flexibility than other professionals.”

Over the past few years, Simpson has eschewed the art of selling action, mostly for the reason that he likes to retain the self-belief that going under his own steam gives him.

“I game select pretty well. I could play higher but I’d rather have more action of myself in softer games. I occasionally sell action if it’s a particularly big buy-in, but I like to have my own action, to ‘bet on myself’ as it were.”

This week’s return to 888poker LIVE Barcelona represents the next big opportunity for a poker personality who has been one of 888poker’s most popular ambassadorial acquisitions in many years.

Who would bet against Ian Simpson? With this week’s 888poker Barcelona schedule packed full of events for any pocket, it’ll be the latest in a long line of visits to the Catalan former capital of culture for the family man with a burning desire in him to succeed.

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Paul Seaton poker author
Written By.

Paul Seaton

Paul Seaton has written about poker from all over the world, and has interviewed the most well known poker players in the world in the pursuit of the perfect poker stories. Having worked events such as the World Series of Poker, European Poker Tour and World Poker Tour, Paul has worked as Editor of BLUFF […]

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