Meet the High Roller Newcomer Who Is Crushing the 2023 Poker Masters
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The poker player with the runaway lead on the Poker Masters Leaderboard isn't Alex Foxen, Sean Winter or Sam Soverel. It isn't Stephen Chidwick, who recently took down Event #8: $25,000 No-Limit Hold'em for $400,000.
No, the player who has found the most success inside the PokerGO Studio this week is Lithuania's Vladas Tamasauskas, a newcomer to the high roller scene who quickly made his presence known by taking down two events and snatching trophies from some of the best players in the world.
Tamasauskas, who primarily played mid-stakes tournaments before flying overseas registering for the Poker Masters in Las Vegas, started the series with a victory in the $10,000 buy-in opening event for $239,400 before winning the third event of the series for $208,800.
PokerNews caught up with Tamasauskas during the currently underway Poker Masters, which runs through Sept. 26 before a player is awarded the elusive Purple Jacket.
"Couldn't Ask For a Better Start"
Tamasauskas had his first tournament cash in 2015 with an 11th-place finish in the European Poker Tour (EPT) Prague Main Event for $21,164. Since then, he racked up hundreds of thousands in earnings, primarily in the $500-$1,500 buy-in range, before binking a career-best score of $439,650 earlier this month with a third-place finish in an EPT Barcelona €10,000 High Roller.
"I mostly focused on Main Event kind of tournaments, not smaller field high rollers ones," he told PokerNews on Sept. 21. "I would play more bigger fields and smaller buy-ins. But this year I wanted to play higher. And I had a decent score in Barcelona, and after that it was easier to come here and play in these ones as well."
At the Poker Masters, Tamasauskas started things off in Event #1 by defeating heads-up opponent Aram Zobian before winning a second PGT trophy in Event #3 by besting Ren Lin, who himself has had a strong performance at the Poker Masters and sits third on the Poker Masters Leaderboard. In between the victories, Tamasauskas finished sixth in Event #2 for $58,200.
"(I) couldn't ask for a better start and just want to finish as strong as I started," said Tamasauskas. "It's still a lot of tournaments left, and we want to win the Leaderboard, obviously, at this point. But still a lot of tournaments left and just try to focus on each and every one of them."
Chasing The Poker Masters Title
With his three final tables, two victories and $506,400 in cashes, Tamasauskas was the clear frontrunner in the Leaderboard race with 506 points when PokerNews interviewed him during the first break of Event #5. Now, with just a few events in the series left to play out, Tamasauskas remains in front.
Despite being new to the high-roller scene, Tamasauskas, who noted that it was his first time playing with "some of these guys ... like half of them probably," did not make any major strategy adjustments.
"I prepare for the smaller ones the same way, just treat every tournament with respect," he said. "And if I don't want to play, I don't play any tournament that day. But in terms of preparation, it's the same for every tournament. Because how you play (in) one tournament, you'll play (in) another as well. How you do one thing, you'll do everything."
That said, Tamasauskas noted his strategy has evolved throughout the series as he tries "to adjust to every single one of them in terms of opponents and go from there."
"I think it evolves in terms of (that) you get to know your opponents better. And yeah, there's more dynamics with every single player at the table, because fields are smaller so you face the same opponents more often. And I think that's the biggest difference from the first events going forward."
Tamasauskas still needs to fend off late-series surges by others on the leaderboard, including Chino Rheem (358 points), Lin (325 points), and Darren Elias (319 points). While such an upset is not unheard of, the Purple Jacket all but belongs to the Lithuanian high-roller newcomer at this point.
2023 Poker Masters Leaderboard Top 10 (Through 8 Events)
*Images courtesy of PokerGO / Antonio Abrego