Birmingham to Bangkok: British poker player wins big and moves to Thailand

Photos via Richard 'Ginge' Sheils' Facebook

A Brummie lad won £3.6 million (145.5 million baht) playing online poker and is now “having the time of his life” in Thailand.

An Englishman, 31 year old Richard Sheils, swapped Birmingham for Bangkok after becoming a professional poker player from his bedroom. Now, Sheils is living a life of partying and trips to the beach.

Sheils revealed that he began playing poker in his childhood bedroom in Erdington and started winning big in 2015, when he, his father, and brother made £75,000 (3 million baht) over two months.

He dedicated his life to poker and began playing high-stakes games in Las Vegas via the Internet.

The poker champion and Birmingham Uni economics graduate fell in love with Thailand when he went on a tour of Asia years ago. After winning big, Thailand was the obvious place to relocate to…

“Some of my friends moved to Thailand,” Sheils told the Daily Mail. “They moved to the beach and started playing small stakes poker all day every day.”

“They probably made US$40 an hour and just stayed with their Thai girlfriends in a condo by the beach every day.”

“They were eating Thai food and getting in good shape. I was like, ‘this sounds great.'”

Sheils said he likes the hot weather in Thailand despite his “ginger and pale complexion.”

However, Sheils’ move to Thailand hasn’t been all smooth sailing. Before Thailand legalised cannabis in June last year, Sheils ended up in Thai jail over a bag of weed

“I ended up going to jail in Thailand. It wasn’t my fault. It was the wrong place at the wrong time with the police.”

“One of the Thai girls told the police we were having a drugs party. I let the police in saying there was nothing to worry about.”

However, Sheils “didn’t realise” that one of his friends at the party was smoking cannabis, which was a Category 5 illicit narcotic at the time.

They found a bag of weed and all of sudden we were down in the police station. It was a pretty stressful ordeal.”

After his night in a jail cell, Sheils paid a fine and sought a proper visa to stay in Thailand long-term.

The poker champ has no plans to move back to the UK. He’s been flying out his family members to Thailand instead of visiting home, “no offence to Birmingham,” he joked.

“Living at home in Birmingham is fine but now I’m paying half of that to live in a capital city where it’s hot all the time.

“I don’t see myself going back to England any time soon. I love that I’m from England and I’m very patriotic, but I don’t see the advantage of living there for me right now.”

Aside from the government lottery, all forms of gambling are illegal in Thailand.

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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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