Jack Sinclair broke through for his first World Series of Poker bracelet by winning the 2018 WSOP Europe main event at King's Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic, taking home $1,277,013. Sinclair played incredible poker for six days, just over a year removed from his eighth-place finish in the 2017 WSOP main event in Las Vegas, as the 27-year old Englishman was drawn back to Rozvadov after another trip left him with a reason to return.
"The last time I went to King's Casino was February of this year for a PartyPoker event," Sinclair recalled. "At the end of the trip, I had around €11,500 chips in my room. I was running late as they had a coach to take us to the airport. When I got to the bottom of the hotel, the hostess was telling me to hurry up as the coach was about to leave. I realized then that I couldn't cash out my chips at the cage and told myself that I would have to come back.
"After a tough 2018 WSOP in Vegas, I wasn't too enthusiastic to go to WSOP Europe. But since I had been carrying these chips for over half a year, I decided to go play the WSOP Europe main event. I guess that ended up being a good choice."
Sinclair has had other fortuitous moments in his career, which helped shape him into one of the budding young superstars of poker. However, Sinclair originally didn't plan on becoming a poker player. He studied in music and sound recording at Surrey University in England, but during his final year, he and his mates discovered poker and took to the game immediately.
"We didn't have anything to do at night, so we decided to play poker. And I basically fell in love with the game instantly," Sinclair said. "We weren't very good and didn't know much about the game, but we started playing once a week. Soon, we all loved it and then began to play poker every night."
After Sinclair graduated in 2013, he picked up numerous jobs in the music industry to pay the bills. Over time, though, he slowly began disenchanted and decided to give a full-time poker career a try.
"After I graduated, I would get some music gigs, drumming or mixing tracks. But after a while, I wasn't enjoying being in the music business. It's very bad pay and loads of people trying to do it. During this time, I was also basically playing poker every day online, primarily playing small stake tournaments. So, at the start of 2016, I decided to have a proper go in poker. I knew I could always go back to music if I didn't do well in poker."
Although he had a solid enough start to 2016 in poker, by Sinclair's own estimation, things started to slide backward. Everything started to change, however, as an idle afternoon of browsing helped Sinclair make a connection that would eventually change his life.
"The latter half of 2016, I was in a pretty big downswing," Sinclair said. "On a random day, I was browsing PocketFives and I saw Phil Gruissem's page, who was one of my favorite players. I saw a little blurb that he offered coaching and I thought it can't hurt to get some guidance. So, I reached out to him and we ended up doing one coaching session for an hour and half."
About a week or two later, Sinclair saw that Gruissem was looking for another roommate in Malta. Sinclair jumped at the chance and moved to Malta to room with Gruissem in February 2017 -- a decision that ended up being the beginning of a poker education of a lifetime.
"I moved in with him and his buddy at the start of February 2017. From then on, I was just playing poker online solidly, grinding six days a week or so. We were just sitting next to each other and playing. When I would bust all my tournaments, I would just sweat his game and he would talk about hands.
"When he would bust his tournaments, he would sweat my game and give me some coaching right there. It was a complete transformation of my game. I went from being a small winner in very small games to a pretty big winner in slightly higher games online."
While Gruissem had previously been to the WSOP, the German pro with nearly $2 million in career WSOP earnings did not plan on attending the series in Las Vegas in 2017. As Sinclair contemplated his own options, another German poker pro living in Malta and a friend of Gruissem's -- Anton Morgenstern (who finished 20th and 22nd in the 2013 and 2015 WSOP main events, respectively) -- was planning on going to Las Vegas. Morgenstern asked Sinclair if he wanted to go and be roommates for the summer.
Once again, Sinclair excitedly accepted and suddenly flew off to his first WSOP. From the moment he arrived in Las Vegas, Sinclair was smiling from ear to ear.
"I was really just happy for the experience. It was my first time in Vegas," Sinclair said. "Everything was so huge. There were so many people playing poker. The whole trip was just me happy to be there, and trying to play as well as I can, and learn as much as I can. Those were my goals going in."
Over that summer, Morgenstern and Sinclair were inseparable, talking about all of their key hands after every tournament, sometimes even during the breaks.
"While Phil gave me my solid foundation of online poker, Anton gave me a separate education in live poker during the  WSOP," Sinclair said.
After a couple of min-cashes in late June and early July, Sinclair decided to fulfill one of his lifelong poker dreams by playing in the WSOP main event. His tournament experience went slow and steady right from the beginning and, amazingly, after six days of play and fighting through a field of 7,221, Sinclair found himself third in chips with 27 players remaining.
Sinclair's solid play continued through much of that key playdown day, and he was still third in chips at the unofficial final table with 10 players left. Unfortunately for Sinclair, he made an ill-timed bluff versus eventual champion Scott Blumstein, which hurt Sinclair's chances entering the official final table.
"We had reached 10 players and we were going to regroup. We took a 15-minute break. And at that moment, everything hit me at once," Sinclair said. "I realized at just how tired I was. And the situation kind of got to me.
"After my bluff versus Scott, I was obviously pretty devastated about that hand because I really felt like I had played the best poker of my life for that day. I was not a happy bunny, that's for sure."
Though he made it through to the final table, in the end, Sinclair ended up finishing in eighth place. He still took home $1.2 million, and instead of dwelling on the bluff and what could have been, he took the time to celebrate an incredible accomplishment.
"Yeah, it took a while to get over it, but the thing is, I also had to celebrate the fact that I just made the main event final table and a huge amount of money," he said. "So, afterward, it was a celebration. It wasn't a miserable situation."
After this surreal run during the 2017 WSOP main event, Sinclair decided to explore the world.
"I basically started traveling to any poker tournament I wanted to play," he said. "The WSOP gave me a bankroll to start playing the live circuit. I realized quickly that this was very much the life for me. Being able to play poker for a living is a dream come true. I just love it."
Over the next 10 months, Sinclair continued his hot streak. He won over $800,000 and captured two titles of note -- the PartyPoker Super High Roller in Rozvadov, and an Aussie Millions preliminary event. Sinclair also felt more and more at home in the world of poker, as he met and befriended more pro poker players.
"I continued to be a very lucky guy and have an incredible run playing poker," Sinclair said. "One of the best things was that I was able to make friends with some fantastic poker players. We had a lot of fun on the circuit, as there is always a party or celebration going on. But, I also really improved my game over this time. For me, talking with these incredible people really helped me learn more."
Heading into the 2018 WSOP, Sinclair tried to enter the tournament series with a similar mindset and focus to what he had had the previous year. However, inevitably expectations got the better of him; Sinclair played in about 40 to 50 events but wound up with min-cashes in only five events.
"I don't think I had as good of a mindset this year. I tried to remind myself to just be happy to be here at the WSOP, but of course, that is easier said than done," Sinclair said. "Also, I definitely partied much more, where last year, I was much more focused. In the end, the 2018 WSOP was an absolute bloodbath for me as I lost a great deal of money."
After the 2018 WSOP, Sinclair decided to rededicate himself. He scaled back his drinking, worked out more and normalized his sleep schedule. There weren't immediate results to speak of, and as he struggled to turn his fortunes around playing live and online, WSOP Europe didn't have an excess of appeal.
But then, he still had his buy-in basically already in hand, in the form of the chips from Rozvadov he still had in hand after his high-roller victory. Sinclair seemed destined to turn the tide and perform well in this, the final WSOP bracelet event of his year.
"This tournament was very smooth, [although] I had a really rough start. I got down to 60 percent of starting stack early on, but towards the end of Day 1, I doubled up versus Laszlo [Bujtas, who finished runner-up]," Sinclair said. "From that point on, my good fortunes continued as I was never in any danger during the rest of the tournament. Everything went my way. I had a lot of tough decisions, but it always seemed that I made the right one."
Overall, the tournament went very quickly, as some of the days ended earlier than the organizers had originally planned. Entering the final table with six players, Sinclair was fourth in chips but still had a healthy 54-big blind stack. He spoke with a couple of friends, including WSOP bracelet winner Igor Kurganov (who finished in 22nd place in the WSOPE main event), to develop a strategy for this crucial final table.
"Basically, we decided to play tight and not get too much money in pre-flop, which is pretty much what I stuck too and it worked out," Sinclair said. "I was very lucky as I got [pocket] aces versus queens for a 90-big blind pot, which was pretty huge. The short stacks busted without too much trouble and the final table was like the rest of the tournament, as it was smooth sailing. Overall, I was able to chip up without being in too many risky situations."
Some 15 months after his deep run in Vegas, Sinclair laid claim to one of the highest-profile titles on the tournament calendar. He found winning his first WSOP bracelet to be an extremely meaningful moment, especially after how last summer's main event ended.
Even though it was another life-altering moment, Sinclair finds himself right where he wants to be for the foreseeable future.
"It obviously an amazing feeling to actually win a bracelet," he said. "It was one of my goals since last year. It's just incredible. It feels pretty special. I don't want to change anything at the moment. I'm just enjoying this too much. I'm planning on continuing traveling from tournament to tournament and grinding away. I just love this game."