Professional poker player arrested for cocaine dealing

Jon Pill
Posted on: August 02, 2021 12:12 PDT

Turns out that small-time UK professional poker player Ashley Locker had other income streams. After the justice system sent him down for 2 years and 2 months for dealing cocaine, I guess we should probably refer to him as a semi-pro.

Before he went to the lock-up, Locker had accrued $111,976 in tournament wins, including a $50k score for coming in 195th at the 2014 WSOP. However, the majority of his cashes have been in tourneys with stakes of one or two hundred pounds ($139-$278).

The police took Locker in after his £60,000 Audi Q7 tripped flags in the AI number-plate matching system that watches England's heavily surveilled roads. The system linked Locker's plate to a drug ring. When the police stopped him, Locker had £1,500 in cash on his person. He claimed this money was a buy-in for a poker game he was headed to. However, a quick root around in his car turned up another grand and six zip-locks of carefully-weighed-out cocaine. That's not necessarily unusual for a poker player who needs to stay alert during a 60-hour shift at the tables.

However, the personal use story really busted out of the running when a police search of his house brought another 55 grams of cocaine to light. These drugs were held in a Tupperware container. The cops also found more baggies and a handwritten to-do list detailing Locker's various transactions — all of which were illegal.

One imagines that Locker could have been more cautious with his business documents. Like your hole cards, its best to player your drug-accounts either close to your chest or online through a secure server.

Since his arrest, Locker has sought treatment for gambling addiction.

From poker player to drug dealer

The York Crown Court played host to the trial, during which the 29-year-old Locker saw his backstory come to light.

Locker learned to play poker at the age of 18, according to his lawyer, Anna Bond.

From then until the age of 26, Locker worked in a food factory for the McCain company. An injury in 2017 made going in to the assembly line tough for him, so he transferred more of his time to poker.

According to his lawyer, the transformation from player to dealer was gradual. Slowly professionalism gave way to addiction at the card table. Then to debt. Then, finally, to dealing coke.

"It was wonderful and financially lucrative. It was glamorous, and it was fun. But, as with every addiction, it creeps up on you," Bond told the court. "It was an addiction that crept up very slowly and before he knew it he [turned to dealing drugs] and probably made the worst mistake of his life."

Judge Sean Morris did not accept addiction as a mitigating factor, opting instead to dole out a harsh sentence.

Morris showed a poor understanding of poker when he told Locker that he "had a good lifestyle, a nice career and got—inevitably, as gamblers do—into debt."

"You made a lifestyle choice to become a dealer in Class A drugs [where] big money can be made," Morris told Locker. "You chose to get rich quick."

"Making money out of drugs is evil."

One hopes Morris remembers his own judgment the next time he passes through the pharmacy section in Boots.

Featured image source: Flickr by slgckgc