Matthew Ashton was having a very good 2013 World Series of Poker. Now, he is having a great one.The 25-year-old poker pro from Liverpool, England won what's widely considered to be the most prestigious tournament in poker, the annual Poker Players Championship which is played in honor of the event's inaugural winner – the late Chip Reese.Ashton topped a brutal field comprised of 132 of the world's top poker players, who each posted the $50,000 entry fee – making this one of the highest buy-in tournaments on the WSOP schedule (aside from the One Drop tourney, which has been played each of the last two years). The tournament ran over five consecutive days, ending under the bright lights of the ESPN Main Stage at just past midnight.Ashton was having what most would consider to be quite a successful WSOP leading up to this moment. Although he hadn't won a gold bracelet (yet), he made three final table appearances – posting 2nd, 3rd, and 7th place showings. With nearly $300,000 in winnings coming into this tournament, Ashton was virtually assured to leave the series with a substantial profit.Good turned to great when Ashton raked in the final pot of the tournament, which skyrocketed his bankroll and reputation to new heights. He collected $1,774,089 in prize money, plus his first gold bracelet. Matthew Ashton's name will also be inscribed onto the Chip Reese Memorial Trophy, which already lists the previous winners including Reese, Freddy Deeb, Scotty Nguyen, David Bach, Brian Rast, and Michael Mizrachi (who won this event twice).Ashton took particular pride in the win because it entailed a mastered of mixed games. He noted becoming “bored” with Hold'em about four years ago, and began playing different forms of poker online. Ashton started small, but then began to improve and move up in stakes. Eventually, he became confident enough to enter virtually any event on the WSOP schedule, which now has paid off handsomely with four final table appearances this year alone.As a result of Ashton's big score, he moves into the lead in the WSOP Player of the Year race with 649.75 points. Already a solid threat given his recent success, Ashton is now especially motivated to play as many remaining events as he can, including WSOP-Europe, which is coming up in September.Aside from poker, Ashton has an interesting back story and a compelling personality that's both reserved and engaging. He grew up in the famous port city of Liverpool and predominantly spent most of his years in England. Ashton attended and graduated from college, but also realized the things he wanted to know about were not necessarily found in classrooms or even in careers graduation.Bankrolled to some extent with his online poker winnings, last year Ashton took nine months off from playing in order to travel around the world, mostly with a backpack. He visited more than 30 different countries, enjoying a variety of experiences. Ashton later revealed that the vacation of discovery did not necessarily help him as a poker player, but it helped him as a person. He came into this year's WSOP with a renewed sense of vigor for not having ground out a living at the poker tables during all the previous months.With this victory, Ashton now has eight cashes, five final table appearances, and nearly $2.2 million in career WSOP earnings.
MEET GOLD BRACELET WINNER – MATTHEW ASHTON
Name: Matthew Ashton
Current Residence: Liverpool (England)
Birthplace: Liverpool (England)
Marital Status: Single
Occupation: Professional Poker Player
Previous Occupation: College Student
WSOP Cashes (including this event): 8
First WSOP Cash (year): 2011
WSOP Final Table Appearances: 5
WSOP Wins (with this victory): 1
WSOP Career Earnings: $2,185,186INTERVIEW WITH THE CHAMPION
WSOP: How does it feel to win your first WSOP gold bracelet?
Ashton: My head is still spinning. It really hasn't sunk in. I'm also feeling pretty tired right now. This was a really long tournament.
WSOP: Tell us about the journey to victory.
Ashton: There were a lot of ups and downs. I was all-in several times. I just happened to win those pots.
WSOP: Did you want to win this event more than some of the others?
Ashton: For sure. I always wanted to win one before, but it wasn't as big a deal until I started making final tables and started coming so close. That made this really something I wanted.
WSOP: What was most challenging about playing in this event?
Ashton: I think the hardest thing is that when you are switching back and forth between games, it's harder to pick up reads on people. If you play the same game, you can get a feel for the flow of it and who people play, but with the changing games, it's not as much a factor since the game doesn't came back around for two more hours.
WSOP: Can you talk more about busting out of the other final tables without a win and how that provided extra motivation on this occasion?
Ashton: I did want it more this time, but I also busted out eight tournaments in a row (before this). That's just how tournaments are. You have to kind of approach each situation the same and try and play your best.WSOP: Tell us more about your world travels and recent vacation away from poker.Ashton: I stoppled playing poker for nine months because I wanted to go backpacking. That's something I always wanted to do. I don't think it hurt my poker career....It helped me in other areas of my life so now I can concentrate more on poker.
WSOP: So, does this win mean you are the best all-around player in the world?
Ashton: Of course! [laughter] Seriously, it's one tournament and anyone can won one tournament on a good day. This one just so happens to be tougher to win.
WSOP: Any final words about how special this honor is to win the Poker Players Championship?
Ashton: It is the tournament I wanted to win the most. Because it's the mixed games, I wanted this one. It was the toughest field here. I've come a long way.ODDS AND ENDSAt age 25, Matthew Ashton is the youngest player ever to win this title. He is also the first European to ever win the Chip Reese trophy.Don Nguyen finished as the runner up. With a consolation prize amounting to $1,096,254, Nguyen became the eighth player at this series to earn a seven-figure payday.Attendance for this year's event was the highest since 2008.Poker legend Doyle Brunson made his first (and so far only) WSOP appearance this year by playing in this event. He was eliminated during Day Three.No female has ever cashed in this event (2006 to present).