There’s more than a touch of irony that one of the great benefits of modern online poker – a technological advancement that allows us to play not just at home but at any time, anywhere – is the facility to qualify for ‘live’ poker festivals around the globe. Poker fans who have never set foot in a ‘bricks & mortar’ casino, nor ever expected to, can now win their way to international, big money events – and for less than the price of a coffee!
Culture, Cafes & Poker
As it happens, Sofia is the perfect place to sit in the sun having a coffee, taking in the view of the nearby mountains that encircle this 7,000-year-old city. And with such a player/bankroll-friendly satellite structure at 32Red Poker a host of players won their way to Bulgaria’s ancient capital for the latest €150,000 leg of the MPN Poker Tour.
There’s a buzz associated with these tournaments that’s well worth making the effort to experience, and if you’re sitting at the table when the cards are being dealt having won the €550 buy-in or even a €1,500 package it’s all the more enjoyable. Not surprisingly, our numerous qualifiers who become part of Team 32Red continue to make the most of qualifying opportunities, and we want all our poker enthusiasts to get involved and join the tour – even our nightly €3 buy-in €500 Flush Royale tournament, for example, has a special prize of a €1,500 MPNPT package for a royal flush!
Home success in Main Event
The MPN Tour has been an enormous success and Sofia was yet another instalment that saw the size of the field generate more prize money than the guarantee which, this time, was €125,000. In fact, over the opening Day 1a & 1b there were 263 entries and an additional 39 re-entries, boosting the total prize pool to €146,470, with a juicy €35,000 for the eventual winner.
With bagpipes (called ‘gaida’) being a national instrument, a public holiday dedicated to St George and a popular Irish pub, Sofia’s perhaps surprising links to UK and Irish players could have led to this particular visiting contingent taking home a chunk of the booty but, as it turned out, the Main Event proved to be a home success. Bulgarians took the top prizes, with Stefan Genchev emerging as the eventual winner.
However, there were a couple of notable results for (Bulgarian!) Team 32Red players, with Edmondi Mkhitaryan winning a tidy €2,700 for finishing in 9th place, and Stanislav Ivanov earning €2,200 for an impressive 16th.
‘Ever growing, never old’
That’s the memorable motto for Sofia which, incidentally, is the Greek word for ‘wisdom’ – we could do worse than apply these words to how we approach poker. Big money festivals are indeed exciting, not least because every player will at some point be within a big hand or a stroke of luck of making a concerted stand for glory. The flip side, of course, is that we are also a big hand or a cruel, ill-timed moment of poor fortune from a painful exit. This, as all poker players eventually realise, is simply part of the game that we need to accept and from which we have to move on without letting the experience taint our future experiences…
No doubt those players who won a €1,500 package to Sofia will have enjoyed their stay at the Radisson Blu Grand Hotel that was both very well situated and, conveniently, adjoining the host casino. Catering for so many players and dealing with the logistics of organizing such a big event is bound to present a problem or two, and the fact that smoking was allowed understandably didn’t go down well with the vast majority of players from countries where times have changed considerably since ‘smoke-filled rooms’ was the stereotypic norm. But, as the old adage goes, you can’t please everyone, all of the time and, overall, Sofia provided players with an interesting taste of both poker and culture.
Team 32Red qualifier Knut Berntsen’s experience was typical – he had a couple of suggested improvements but also had this to say: “On the positive side, I loved the atmosphere in Sofia, with a good mix of online qualifiers and locals in a friendly environment. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, which is always nice to see in an event like this! Moreover, one important reason I started to play satellites for the MPNPT is that the tour offers stops at locations where you normally won’t find bigger poker tournaments. Please continue to do so in the future, as it is a great opportunity to travel to new places and get to play some poker as well…”
‘Bouncebackability’ is a word first championed by a UK television sports show to describe the ability to take bad results and disappointment in one’s stride and bounce back to success. Our Poker Ambassador, Angus Dunnington subsequently adopted it in his psychology oriented poker musings and, fortunately, our Team 32Red players demonstrated this capacity to dust themselves off and climb back on the proverbial horse in Sofia.
Phillip Huxley (England) – “Bad beats on me in the Main Event. Bad beats given out in the Bulgaria Cup!”, 32Red’s indefatigable Poker Manager Nick Diaz (Gibraltar), Vyacheslav Blazhko (Ukraine) and Asif Warris finished 11th, 19th, 22nd and 23rd respectively in the €135 buy-in Bulgaria Poker Cup.
On the last day of the festival Nick did the poker equivalent of striking while the iron is hot. With a dozen or so players left in the €100 buy-in Sunday Showdown, Oliver Fabian was hoping his small stack would see him into the prizes when Angus Dunnington took a stand with AQ but was knocked out by a pair of sevens in a typical make or break hand. Some adventure later, and Oliver’s ‘chip and a chair’ story earned him 4th place, while Nick won the trophy! Modest to a fault, here is Nick’s version of his success: “I’m a lucky fish… had good cards at the beginning so that played out well for me. I made some sneaky moves early on which played out well, too, and had four times the starting stack by the first break. Then I went card dead so shifted down gears, and picked up the pace towards the final table. In the very last hand I had KQ and my opponent 3x raised with 44 – I shoved and a king appeared on the flop…”
And there we have it. Another interesting poker tour stop for 32Red Poker players, who proved once again that there’s more to poker than winning. Here are some words of wisdom from Team 32Red qualifier Andre Silva (whose qualifying quest began with a €3 satellite!) that put the game – and these trips – perfectly into perspective: “Got eliminated with AA against 32 – never slow-play Aces…”
Next stop on the MPNPT – Tallinn
Be a part of the next leg of the tour by qualifying for the Tallinn event (11-14 August). Win a fantastic €1,500 package that includes the €550 buy-in to the €125K Main Event, €100 buy-in to €15K Side Event, four nights (for two) at the Hilton Tallinn Park Hotel and €250 towards travel and expenses. Satellites start at only 25 cents!