This Marine veteran turned $2 into a $10,000 Main Event ticket to the WSOP Michigan

Ryan Slocum

When you work in poker media, you’re always looking for stories that resonate with a large portion of the poker community. Occasionally this can be a lengthy process, but every now and then luck smiles down on you and drops one on your lap.

That’s exactly what happened to this poker writer on a blustery February Monday in South Wales. Towards the end of my work day, an . Color me shocked.

Instead, my heart warmed afterwards Ryan Slocuma Marine veteran shared that he had won a ticket to the Main Event of the World Series of Poker 2024 after reading an article I wrote about continuing satellites

So of course I went to the DMs to find out more about his performance and make sure I wasn’t accused of anything.

Somali pirates, Black Friday and becoming a private detective

Slocum had always dreamed of playing in the Main Event after seeing it Chris Moneymaker In 2003 he beat the competition. He was immediately hooked and began attending $5 home games before beginning a career in the Navy at age 18.

“My second deployment was off the coast of Somalia when the Somali pirates were very active.”

After completing boot camp, Slocum was assigned to the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Dwight D Eisenhower. And when he wasn’t busy monitoring the flight deck or fending off Somali pirates, Slocum continued to pursue his passion for the game.

“Before I left, I bought all the poker books I could find Super system. I was also very interested in Dan Harrington’s books,” Slocum said.

His hard-working attitude paid off as Slocum was able to make some extra money on the side after destroying the games he organized on his ship.

“My second deployment was off the coast of Somalia when the Somali pirates were very active. If you have seen the film Captain Philips with Tom HanksThat was my order.”

Ryan Slocum with American rapper Yung Joc
Ryan Slocum with American rapper Yung Joc

“I was never really able to accumulate a lot of credit”

After leaving the military, Slocum began making a living doing $22 to $55 hyper heads-up sit-and-gos before disaster struck Black Friday. Not knowing what to do, he started playing blackjack at the Motor City Casino for a few years. After getting married and having a few children, Slocum thought his days of toiling were behind him when he landed in the mortgage industry. But when mortgage rates skyrocketed in 2022, the rug was pulled out from under him again, prompting him to look for new opportunities. A brief stint as a private detective followed, but the work began to dry up.

Luckily for Slocum, Michigan had recently legalized online poker in the state and was now sitting at the live and virtual tables to pay the bills.

“At the moment I’m not working, just playing poker again. I have a working spouse, Veteran Disability Income, and almost no debt, so I don’t need to earn much to make ends meet. But my wife is a waitress.” So my bankroll was always limited. I could never really build a big bankroll because I needed the money to grow too often.”

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A first attempt at fame

Two decades after Moneymaker won the main event, it was finally Slocum’s turn to crack the whip. Although he didn’t have the budget to secure the five-figure buy-in for the World Poker Championship, Slocum took advantage of the ongoing qualifying tournaments ClubGG and managed to score a package for $50 that allowed him to cross off the item that had been at the top of his wish list.

“I played with Phil Laak and he was so nice. He asked me about my story and told me I was better than I thought.”

Slocum then traveled to Las Vegas for the 2023 WSOP, and although it had been a highly anticipated trip, fears and doubts began to creep into his mind. But some encouraging words from a poker legend helped ease some negative thoughts.

“I suffer from imposter syndrome, so I never feel like I’m as good as the players around me or that I don’t belong. At the Main I made it to the last hand of day 2. I played really well, but I still felt like I didn’t quite fit in.

Phil Lack
Phil Lack

“I played with… Phil Lack and he was so nice. He asked me about my story and told me that I was better than I thought and that it wasn’t just luck that I beat so many people. You have to be good. It meant a lot to me growing up watching him.”

Undeterred by missing out on paid seats, Slocum was determined not to be a one-trick pony and wanted to feel the excitement of the main event again.

“It wasn’t about the money. That’s still not it. For me, money is just how we score in poker… I decided I really wanted a spot in the Main Event this year. I didn’t want to focus on making money; I just wanted to have that experience again.

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Back to Sin City

Main Event satellites took place on’s Michigan platform. With about two dollars in his account and using the pseudonym “Luica,” a pseudonym for his daughter, Slocum got to work.

“My daughter chose Luica as her favorite character at the WSOP MI when she was seven years old charm. She insisted that I spell Louisa “Luica.” She chose that name because my son, who was nine at the time, came up with my PokerStars name FARTP00P.

After playing a few micro-stakes tournaments, Slocum won enough to enter the $15 feeder satellite and then cleared the field to earn a $215 main event satellite ticket.

The winning hand
The winning hand

“On Super Bowl Sunday, my wife was at a party and I stayed home with the kids and played the $15 satellite and then the $215 satellite. Her work friends at a party freaked out when they found out I won.”

“I’ve had a pretty bad few months [in poker], but the last 12 hours have been nothing short of incredible. I can’t believe I did it again.

“I just love the game of poker. I’ve been playing for years and I honestly can’t believe I won a Main Event spot this way. I thought last year would be once in a lifetime, but I made it my mission to find it. I played as many satellites as I could. And I did it on the second try. I feel blessed.”

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Calum Grant

Editor and live reporter

Calum joined the PokerNews team in September 2021 after working in the UK energy sector. He played his first hand of poker in 2017 and immediately fell in love with the game. Calum’s proudest poker achievement is winning the only tournament he has ever played in Las Vegas, the prestigious $60 Flamingo evening event.


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