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Feb 04, 2015

Family of Four Quit Jobs to Become Poker Pros

By RTR Dennis

In most cases, parents are the ones trying to convince their kids to steer away from the risky path of a poker pro. However, Matthew and Michelle Shiels are not only encouraging their two sons to play poker, but joining them in the process. And as we'll discuss below, the British family of four from Edington, Birmingham is turning out some solid results thanks to a "mathematical formula."

Accountant father guides the team

23-year-old Richard Shiels has proven to be the most successful member of his poker family, recently winning a deepstack tournament along with £26,000 ($40,498) at Nottingham's Dusk Till Dawn Poker Club. Overall, Richard has won $83,015 through live tournaments since his poker career picked up after graduating from Birmingham University with a degree in economics. Not be be outdone by his older brother, 19-year-old Brandon Shiels has earned $61,908, highlighted by recent £9,200 ($13,800) and £9,000 ($14,108) scores.

As for their parents, Matthew and Michelle both quit their day jobs to join the family poker frenzy. The latter sold her nursery business to take up the game, while Matthew used to be an accountant. And his mastery of numbers has been critical to teaching the family the mathematical formula that he claims is producing winning results on the felt.

Poker is not gambling to this family

"In our house, there is a fine line between gambling and poker," Richard told the DailyMail. "I did my dissertation on poker, the science and maths behind the game. You can see where the gambling is, and where it is not. It would be extremely silly to go down the gambling route. If you meet gamblers, you are going to make money from them."
Richard knows better than anybody that poker contains a large amount of skill. But he also recognizes the variance by saying, "If I played you 100 times, I wouldn't beat you 100 times, but I would beat you more than 50 times, which would mean I'd make money."

Head of the family

Richard isn't shy about saying who's best among the Shiels at poker. "I'm getting better and better. At the moment, I'm a better player than Brandon, but he's improving all the time," Richard explains. "I taught him how to play. I've made the mistakes and made sure he doesn't make them."

Matthew and Michelle have also had their moments on the felt, especially Michelle. The mother has been on Channel 4's Late Night Poker, winning £12,000 on one occasion. Considering the family's success so far, it'll be interesting to see if they continue producing good results and grabbing headlines.