Jonathan Taylor should be an alchemist.Everything he touches turns to gold.The 31-year-old professional poker player from Phil Campbell, AL just won the most recent WSOP event held at the Rio in Las Vegas. Taylor collected a whopping $454,424 in prize money, plus his first WSOP gold bracelet. His success comes following a gold ring victory in the Circuit Main Event held at The Lodge in Colorado. Taylor also finished runner-up in the Main Event held at Southern Indiana.In fact, Taylor earned three gold rings this season on the Circuit, which ties him for the most in a single year. He arrived at this year's WSOP with ten Circuit cashes on his resume. Given all his success, this year seemed like the right time for Taylor to make a move and put his poker skills to the ultimate test.The most recent challenge began a few weeks ago when Taylor landed in Las Vegas to play in his first-ever WSOP event. His initial run was rocky, going zero for seven in the first week of gold bracelet events that he entered.“Coming into this event, all I pretty much wanted to do was to cash,” Taylor said after his victory. “I just wanted to say I had my first WSOP breakthrough.”Taylor achieved that, and then some. He reigned triumphant in the $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold'em tournament, which drew 1,819 players.It's one thing to dream and hope. It's quite another to actually experience the success of winning a gold bracelet.Taylor is highly competitive, which is one reason why his success in poker comes as no surprise. He played college football as the University of North Alabama and was a starting defensive lineman. Taylor earned a Masters Degree in accounting. After graduating, he worked as an accountant for the next four years – and hated it.“I was just playing poker on the side, and started to make money at it,” Taylor said. “Then I decided to focus on it and got to the point where I was traveling around and playing full time.”Taylor wasn't alone in his moment of victory. His cheering section included many of the WSOP Circuit's top performers in recent years. They swarmed the stage in a massive celebration when Taylor won the final hand of the tournament against Blake Bohn, who finished as runner-up.
MEET GOLD BRACELET WINNER – JONATHAN TAYLOR
Name: Jonathan Taylor
Current Residence: Phil Campbell, Alabama (USA)
Marital Status: Single
Profession: Professional Poker Player
Former Profession: Accountant
WSOP Cashes (including this event): 1
First WSOP Cash (year): 2013
WSOP Final Table Appearances: 1
WSOP Wins (with this victory): 1
WSOP Circuit Cashes: 10
WSOP Circuit Wins (gold rings): 3
INTERVIEW WITH THE CHAMPION
WSOP: How does it feel to win your first WSOP gold bracelet?
Taylor: This is everybody's dream. It's no fair that I got it right off the bat. I am very humbled by this. I don't feel I deserve it, but we're going to take it.
WSOP: Can you discuss how playing college football may have helped you become a poker pro?
Taylor: I'm extremely competitive. Early in my poker career, that was actually to my detriment. I wanted to win every single time, every pot. I grew up as an athlete and was always competing. That's why you see so many athletes going into poker when they are done playing. It's a good way to fuel the competition.
WSOP: Tell us about the transition you've made during your relatively short poker career of about three years.
Taylor: It's all built up to here. Last year, I decided at the start of the Circuit season to start playing a lot of tournaments and to try and transition as a player in that direction. Right out of the gate, I started to run incredibly well. After that success, I wanted to transition from there into coming here. I had never played a bracelet event in my life. So, I came up with a plan and then got lucky that it all kind of came together.
WSOP: Up until this win, how were things going here at the WSOP?
Taylor (laughing): I've already bricked seven events.
WSOP: Is this really your first time in Las Vegas?
Taylor: Yes, this is my first time in Las Vegas, but I don't even feel I'm in Las Vegas because I've been going back and forth across the street every day (hotel to the casino), just playing all day, every day.
WSOP: You have a rail that includes many of the WSOP Circuit's most-accomplished players. How did they help you win?
Taylor: I just started playing in tournaments last year. I was mostly a cash game player. I surrounded myself with good people, who also happened to be good players. A lot of these guys have helped me over time. They helped my game. Just being around good players helped me immensely.