This Navy Veteran Turned $2 into a $10,000 Main Event Ticket on WSOP Michigan

This Navy Veteran Turned $2 into a $10,000 Main Event Ticket on WSOP Michigan

When working in the media side of poker, you're always on the hunt for stories that will resonate with a large portion of the poker community. On occasion, this can be a drawn-out process, but every now and then, lady luck smiles down upon you and drops one onto your lap.

That's exactly what happened to this poker writer on a blustery February Monday in South Wales. Nearing the end of my work day, my phone lit up with an X notification, and, to my surprise, it wasn't a bot account telling me to click a link for free nudes or to take part in some crypto scam. Color me shocked.

Instead, I found the cockles of my heart warming up after Ryan Slocum, a Navy Veteran shared that he won a ticket to the 2024 World Series of Poker Main Event after reading an article I had penned about satellites running on

So naturally, I went to the DM's to learn more about his achievement and also ensure that I wasn't having my leg pulled.

Somalian Pirates, Black Friday and Becoming a PI

Slocum had always dreamed about playing the Main Event after seeing Chris Moneymaker tear up the competition in 2003. Hooked immediately, he started taking part in $5 home games before beginning a Naval career at the age of 18.

"My second deployment was off the coast of Somalia when the Somalian pirates were super active."

After completing Boot Camp, Slocum was deployed to the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. And when he wasn't working flight deck surveillance or warding off Somalian pirates, Slocum continued to pursue his passion for the game.

"Before I left, I bought any poker books I could find, like Super System. I got really into Dan Harrington's books as well," said Slocum.

His studious attitude paid off, as Slocum was able to make a little extra money on the side after crushing the games he had been organizing on his ship.

"My second deployment was off the coast of Somalia when the Somalian pirates were super active. If you've seen the movie Captain Phillips with Tom Hanks, that was my command."

"I've never really been able to accumulate a large bankroll"

After leaving the military, Slocum began earning a living playing mostly $22-$55 hyper heads-up sit-and-gos before disaster struck with Black Friday. Not knowing what to do, he began dealing blackjack at Motor City Casino for a few years. After getting married and having a couple of kids, Slocum thought his days of grinding were behind him as he landed in the mortgage industry. But once again, the rug was swept up from underneath him after mortgage rates spiked in 2022, prompting him to look for new opportunities. A brief stint as a Private Investigator followed, but work began to dry up.

Fortunately for Slocum, Michigan had recently legalized online poker in the state, and he found himself at the live and virtual tables to pay the bills.

"Right now, I'm not working, just grinding poker again. I have a working spouse, income for Veteran Disability, and almost no debt, so I don't need to make much to get by. But my wife is a waitress, so my bankroll has always been limited. I've never really been able to accumulate a large bankroll, as I've needed the money too often to let it grow."

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A First Shot at Glory

Two decades on from seeing Moneymaker win the Main Event, it was finally Slocum's turn to have a crack of the whip. While he didn't have the bankroll to fire the five-figure buy-in for poker's World Championship, Slocum took advantage of the qualifiers that were running on ClubGG and managed to bag a package for $50 that saw him cross off the item that had been at the top of his bucket list.

"I played with Phil Laak and he was so kind. He asked me my story and told me I was better than I realized."

Slocum then made the trip to Las Vegas for the 2023 WSOP, and while it had been an eagerly anticipated journey, anxieties and doubts began to creep into his mind. But some words of encouragement from a poker legend helped to alleviate some negative thoughts.

"I suffer from imposter syndrome, so I never feel like I'm as good as the players around me or that I don't belong. At the Main, I made it until the last hand of Day 2. I played really well, but I still kind of felt like I didn't quite belong."

"I played with Phil Laak and he was so kind. He asked me my story and told me I was better than I realized and that beating that many people isn't all luck. You need to be good. It meant a lot to me as I grew up watching him."

Undeterred from missing out on the paid places, Slocum was determined not to be a one-trick pony and wanted to feel the electricity of the Main Event once again.

"It wasn't about the money. It still isn't. To me, money is just how we keep score in poker...I decided I really wanted a Main Event seat this year. I didn't want to focus on making money; I just wanted that experience again."

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Back to Sin City

Upon seeing satellites for the Main Event were taking place on the Michigan platform of With around $2 in his account and under the screenname "Luica", an alias made by his daughter, Slocum began getting to work.

"My daughter made Luica on WSOP MI when she was seven, after her favorite character from Encanto. She was insistent I spell Louisa "Luica". She chose that name because my son, who was nine at the time, made up my PokerStars name, FARTP00P"

After playing some micro-stakes tournaments, Slocum won enough to enter the $15 feeder satellite and then navigated the field to bag a $215 Main Event satellite ticket.

"On Super Bowl Sunday, my wife was at a party, and I stayed home with the kids and played the $15 satellite and then the $215. Her work friends at a party were freaking out when they found out I won."

"I've had a pretty bad few months in poker, but the last 12 hours have just been unbelievable. I can't believe I did it again."

"I just love the game of poker. I have been playing for years, and I truly cannot believe I won a Main Event seat in this way. I thought last year was once in a lifetime, but I made it my mission to find and play in as many satellites as I could. And I got in on my second try. I'm feeling blessed."


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