Interview with John Hesp about COVID-19 vis a vis Live Poker

Yesterday, I had the good fortune of interviewing John Hesp. Best known in the poker world for his memorable run during the 2017 World Series of Poker Main Event, in which he finished 4th place, Hesp has remained exceedingly popular among poker fans for his jovial demeanor, colorful outfits, and genuine pure class.

This was the first time I’ve conducted an interview via live stream, giving the audience tuning in in real time the opportunity to participate, ask questions, and comment on the proceedings.

John Hesp interview

Over the course of what ended up being a two-hour-long interview, John was kind enough to share his thoughts on all manner of topics. Here’s a sampling of some of the questions I asked him:

  • You’ve been under lockdown at your home in Yorkshire, England for the last 6-7 weeks. What has this last period of time been like for you?
  • How have you been keeping busy in these strange and unusual times, and has your mood at times been affected in any way?
  • There’s been a photo circulating on social media of the poker table with plexiglass fitted atop to separate between each seat (see below). Would you play at such a table? Do you feel this presents a solution?

poker table plexiglass

  • The State of Nevada has issued directives for casinos opening, including a maximum of four players per poker table. Do you think this is viable? Would you play four-handed?
  • Let’s hope that in the long term things will get back to normal. Meanwhile the discussion needs to focus on the short term, for how to come back and restart all the rooms. Each room will have to function according to local regulations, but should we as players be conducting ourselves any differently at poker tables versus in the past?
  • You’ve called yourself at one point the “Donald Trump of Poker”. When was that? That’s obviously a very loaded statement, so what was the context of that?
  • Lots of people think of casinos and poker rooms only in the context of Las Vegas and even there, just the Strip. Of course there are plenty of casinos and poker rooms in Europe. I know you’re a big fan of your local room, Napoleon’s in Hull. Have they reopened yet? What sort of measures do they have in place?
  • At what point will you personally feel comfortable going back to play poker in a casino? How about home games, in a private home with your friends?

Worth noting, I didn’t actually get to begin asking the majority of my poker-focused questions until approximately halfway through the interview. That’s because John and I mutually decided to take some time to explore his very emotionally charged political opinions on how governments and media outlets around the world — the UK in particular — have been handling the coronavirus crisis. This added a good bit of perspective as to the foundation of John’s opinions on how the live poker world ought to get back to properly functioning later on in the interview.

In addition to my slew of questions, the viewing audience was quite engaged throughout, also posing a number of lighthearted questions to John, such as how he takes his tea, his favorite English TV shows, and more.

Quite unfortunately, the first 13 minutes of the stream were marred by technical difficulties, as only I was able to hear John while the viewing audience could not. I take full responsibility for this, and am thankful my brother Marty was able to swoop in with his tech utility belt and save the day. As such, the full interview is embedded below – I suggest you all just skip straight to the 13-minute mark, and hope you enjoy watching.



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Written By.

Robbie Strazynski

Robbie founded in 2009. A veteran member of the poker media corps, in addition to writing and video presenting, Robbie has hosted multiple poker podcasts over the years, including Top Pair, the Red Chip Poker Podcast, The Orbit, and the CardsChat Podcast. In 2019, Robbie translated the autobiography of Poker Hall of Famer Eli […]


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