European Poker Tour, Grand Final - From the felt, day one
Pokernews writer Tony G is playing in the EPT final in Monte Carlo. The tournament is the largest prize pool ever in Europe, with over 2.1 million Euro ($2.8 million US) at stake. Two hundred and eleven players entered the tournament. At the end of day one, 122 players remain. One of those players is Tony G. I made the strong move of calling him in his hotel room at 2am local time to find out what day one was like.
PN: I noticed you were at the Television table right away today (the EPT is being broadcast on Eurosport throughout Europe). Is this something you like?
Tony G: I love it. It's just so much more interesting to play.
PN: Do you feel like you have to 'put on a show' when you are at TV table? Are there expectations for you to be as you have been on TV in the past?
Tony G: I'm kinda under pressure to do that. I was at the TV table nearly all day. Devilfish came in for maybe the last two hours. This particular day is going to be on Eurosport on May 5th. Eurosport is huge with 300million homes, they even broadcast to Russia now. I wasn't really playing the part today. Everyone said I was a different Tony G. They said that I was a lot more fun to play with. It was a more enjoyable experience. I think I might have made some mistakes the way I behave sometimes. I think I need to have a slightly better attitude. I did improve the way I behaved today. I still needled players, but I did it just on the table, it's just a game. I don't mean to say its personal, its never personal. I love all the players, I really do.
PN: Current WSOP Champion Greg Raymer was at your table today. Any thoughts on his play?
Tony G: I felt he was one of the top ten players in the world based on today's performance. Especially in the first two sessions, we had five ninety-minute sessions on the day, it was a brutal day. I felt Greg played really well, but I think his weight is an issue, I think he needs to be fitter, because he loses stamina toward the end of the day. I picked that up on a lot of the players, many players have an advantage here. Especially playing such long sessions. I feel if he were fitter, he would do better. But I feel his play was extremely strong, and he actually outplayed me nearly every hand we played.
Early on, I did some damage to him. In two key hands, I was very lucky. I raised it up nearly 45% of the hands, so I was being very active. In one key hand with Greg, I had QJ, and I raised. He re-raised small. I called. He had two Kings. The flop was 9 10 2. I checked, and he bet small again, which was a mistake, cause the turn was an eight, giving me the nuts. I checked, hoping he would bet, but he checked it right back, which I thought was a brilliant play, I don't think I'd be able to check there. The river was another eight, and I bet 3,000, and he called immediately. There was a lot of money in the pot. He was crippled down to 3,000. The next hand, he went all in with Jacks, which was funny because we were only playing 75/150 at that stage. He ran into Aces, but caught a Jack on the flop. He wound up recovering to nearly 15,000.
PN: Also at your table was former tennis champ Yevgeny Kafelnikov. Any thoughts on his play?
I felt that Kafelnikov has a lot of talent. Just like in tennis. I felt he was a bit overawed to be at this table today. He played weak. I don't know why, but I felt he played weak. He made some interesting laydowns. He layed down J10 on a flop of J 8 7. I had Q 8, and got him out of this pot. He was also clever, and he hit some sets, and had good chips all day. Funny thing, I think he has put on a bit of weight, and I think he got tired toward the end of the day, and he was playing pretty bad. I think he was down to about 3,000 chips when I left.
PN: What about your day? Where are you at?
Tony G: I had a very tough day. I actually left with about ten minutes left because I am sick, and it was so cold in the room. I was in shorts and flip flops, cause its my style, and it was really cold. Everyone was complaining about it. It is one of the hottest days in Europe, especially for this time of year. They were blasting the air con, and it was brutally cold in there.
Chip wise, I am at 26,000, average is around 17,000 I think. I lost a big pot with Aces, but I lost the minimum, so that's OK. I played another big pot with Raymer. I had pocket tens, and I raised it to 1,000, Greg went all in right behind me. Keep in mind we are playing eight handed. All tables are eight handed, so its quite a different game. So, Greg moves all in. I was going to call; I felt he had AK or something like that. But again, he outplayed me, and he had two Kings. The flop was 9 7 2, but the turn was a ten, and I got very lucky. It was a miracle, but I had a lot more chips than him. But, he lost to me with Kings both times. He's very mathematical, and he understands the odds, and is very clever. I think I picked up a tell on him, when he is going to check. That's all I'll say about that for now. But, I felt like I knew when he was going to check. I was very lucky today, and sometimes luck is part of the game.
PN: Any comment on the facility, or anyone you met today?
Tony G: No Internet is a big problem. You have to use dial up. Also, everything here is really expensive. I met the owner of Noble Poker, which was nice. He is from Cypress, and they have been really great to me. They had a lot of people there, and they were very happy to have me there. I was on television for nearly seven hours today, which is good exposure for them.
I am looking forward to picking up a good sponsor in the future. This is a one-time deal with Noble, but I have enjoyed it, and I think they are extremely happy with it. I am also helping them out with the Noble Poker/Pokernews Freeroll on the 27th where people can play with me. I think they have a lot of improvement; they have a long way to go. But they have the money, and good people with passion, so I really think they could be a powerhouse one day. Maybe top five online sites in a couple years.
PN: OK, you sound rough. Get some sleep.
Tony G: Thanks, speak to you soon.
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