We have been sitting down with some of the biggest names in poker during the 888Poker London Live Opening Event and one such player was Charles Chattha.
Having been on his annual trip to Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker, not much was seen of Charles Chattha on the circuit until this weekend, when the ebullient Londoner arrived at Aspers for the first tournament in the 888Poker London Live Festival.
“I took a break after having a really bad Vegas. My mind wasn’t on the game," Chattha said, being devastatingly honest about his own game. “I let a few past events dwell on my mind, but I’ve gotten past that after a couple of months break. A fresh start is important; I needed to take time out. Last year, some players might have cashed for $1.5 million with the hands I’d had, but I didn’t.”
One of the biggest disappointment for Chattha was a tournament in America where he walked into a whole lot of run bad.
“I played a $2,000 tournament and knocked out Ole Schemion and Timex," he said. "These are two of the best. Funnily enough, whenever I’ve been away and I am getting back on the road to play poker, I watch a lot of televised poker. And if they ever have a European Poker Hall of Fame, Johnny Lodden has to be the first player inducted. Ole Schemion and Fedor Holz would be second and third! I’m chip leader out of nine, having eliminated them in 13th and 12th and I’m thinking ‘Who can beat me now?’”
Confidence has always been a crucial part of Chattha’s game, but in the summer, in Vegas, it was punctured.
“I had 70 big blinds, another player had 50 big blinds, but everyone else had 20 bigs. If you came fifth, you got $24,000. I lost all-in preflop with aces against kings. It happens. The very next hand, however, the same player raised under the gun. I still had 25 big blinds and was still third in chips. I moved all-in, he called, I had kings, he had ace-king and he hit an ace. I was knocked out in two hands. I cashed for $7,000. How brutal is that? The Main Event didn’t hurt me much – that bust out hurt me more! The eventual winner told me that he’d never seen such a thing in 25 years.”
As a professional, a beat like that can still sting. Chattha, with over a decade of live experience, has had to try to cope with the setbacks.
“It takes time to recover," he said. "I don’t consider myself a wealthy guy. I support my family, but for me, that’s a lot of money. When I make the final table in that sort of tournament, I’m expecting to win it. Even if I came fifth, $24,000 for a $2,000 buy-in is a great result. But ninth for $7,000 didn’t feel the same. Now I’m grinding smaller buy in tournaments."
He’s been playing professionally for 10 years, a long time in poker. Looking back on his time, Chattha's not entirely sure he'd have wanted to be a big part of the industry at 24 years old.
“I would say 50/50. I’ve been with my missus four years; she supports me so much," he said. "She used to be in the industry and that helps. At the same time, can I deal with the swings of poker? When I was younger I could play all day long, but I’m 34 years old now, I have a mortgage and living expenses.”
Chattha, for all of his experience, has always been a tournament player. Tournaments have more variance and drama than grinding cash games.
“I’ve stopped playing cash games," he said. "It doesn’t suit my lifestyle so much. I’ve a lot going on with my family businesses, and to be honest, I've always been a tournament player. Some are happy with a steady curve upwards, but I’ve always been after a shot at glory. That top prize has always been attractive to me. It goes back to my Hit Squad days with James [Akenhead], Praz [Bansi] and Sunny [Chattha, Charles’ brother]. For me, this Opening Event is great value. For £220, you can try and win £24,000 – that’s great, great value.”
Over the years, Chattha’s game has no doubt improved by having so many friends going through the same things in poker. But he’s also become a key support for other players too.
“Steve Watts, Danny Laming, James Akenhead and obviously the Hit Squad are my best friends in poker. But it has become a community. If anyone comes to me and asks me for advice, I’ll give it to them. Alex Spencer and Danny Tang are two up-and-coming players. I invest a bit of money in Danny and he does very well. These boys are good. I tell them they need to be disciplined. They’re listening!”
Who wouldn’t listen to someone with 10 years of experience in any profession? Make no mistake. Every time he plays, Charles Chattha is going to work. He’s after that shot at glory and the biggest titles in the world of poker, but to him, it really is another day at the office because the poker table is where he does his business.