Bubble Boy: NJ’s Kevin Campbell Goes From Heroin Addiction & Jail Cell to WSOP Main Event

November 29, 2021
Bubble Boy: NJ’s Kevin Campbell Goes From Heroin Addiction & Jail Cell to WSOP Main Event

For most players, getting Aces cracked on the bubble of the biggest event in the world would be devastating. However, World Series of Poker Main Event bubble boy Kevin Campbell has overcome much more in life. 

“I was a homeless heroin user that spent many years in prison, and thought I was going to die a junkie,” says the poker player from Bayonne, New Jersey. “I have 15 years of being sober currently.”

Like much of his life, Campbell, 44, took a tough hit in the Main Event in stride. He at least scored a seat in next year’s Main Event for the finish. It’s been a long route from a jail cell to the WSOP and life as an online poker pro.

Crushing online poker

After his years as a heroin user, Campbell decided to change his life and push toward something positive. He currently is one of the top online grinders in the US and strives to get better each year.

His poker life began taking shape after a friend invited him to play. 

“I got invited to a home game some 16 years ago, and instantly loved it,” he says.

Campbell currently plays both live and online, but considers himself more of an online grinder. Currently “Sofcknsick” (his online name) has over $1.1 million in online tracked cashes.

What’s more impressive is that of that total, Campbell only has two five-figure scores. He admits that his online poker career has come with many highs and lows.

So when it came to busting on the bubble, he didn’t let it get to him – and went right back to the felt. 

“I’ve been playing since it happened,” he laughs. “It was just a terrible call by Player X, and an even worse result.”

Taking things in stride

Going through so much in life has made him a stronger person, Campbell says. During the pandemic he continued grinding non-stop. That included scoring over $20,000 in the first few weeks of lockdown.

His pandemic record included winning the partypoker Sunday $35,000 guaranteed. He also won a partypoker daily $10,000 guaranteed event during the same week. 

In 2020, Campbell came in 77th in the domestic WSOP Main Event and for $15,556. He’s now looking for that big breakthrough win.

In the meantime, he won’t be outworked at the online tables. Campbell has over 191 online wins and here are a few of his bigger WSOP.com cashes:

  • $200 Ultimate Warrior (August 2016) – first  for $13,500
  • $200 Fall Main Event (November 2015)  – first for $11,600 and championship ring
  • $215 Online Circuit Freezeout (July 2020) – third for $9,534
  • $215 August Freezeout (August 2020) – runner-up for $7,223

Sober and focused for many years, Campbell says he can’t claim poker solved his substance issues directly. But he credit the game some for turning his life around. 

“Poker didn’t help me overcome my addiction, but it definitely helps for an escape for sure,” he says.

From experience, he also offers advice to others struggling with addiction. 

“Go to AA or NA and get a home group and sponsor and trust them,” Campbell says.

Kevin Campbell receives an entry into the 2021 Main Event seat from WSOP Vice President Jack Effel . (photos courtesy PokerGO)

Reflections on being the WSOP Main Event bubble boy

When it comes to playing the Main Event and busting on the bubble, it wasn’t all that bad. The free seat officially makes Campbell the first registered player at the WSOP’s new location on the Las Vegas Strip.  

Campbell also received some memorable news while in Sin City. He was now a father and headed back to Bayonne after the series to meet his child for the first time.

“It’s the most amazing feeling in the world,” Campbell says. “Now I know what all the parents meant when they said it’s a love like you’ve never felt before.”

Campbell plans on focusing on his newborn and being the best dad he can be. He also realizes poker has a whole new meaning and is getting ready for the 2022 series.

Looking back, he doesn’t regret the decision in the hand that sent him to the rail in the Main Event. His Aces lost to A-9. That’s part of poker and getting knocked out of a tournament doesn’t even compare to some of the lows he’s experienced in life. 

“I was an 89% pre-flop favorite,” he says. “I’ll take that action.”

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