Two weeks ago Kevin Vandersmissen was a Belgian pro progressing through the ranks of live tournament poker, his second place in EPT Snowfest being the highlight. One week ago, however, Vandersmissen was the headline of the poker press having won the Irish Poker Open, collecting €375,000 at the Burlington Hotel in Dublin. That may go some way to explaining while he laughs a lot.
"I'm very happy of course, you're always happy when you win the oldest tournament in Europe, definitely a big honour."
For Vandersmissen it has been a period of two years that has turned him from a solid online player into a formidable live force. However, the progression wasn't easy. His first two live cashes may have been wins but they came after 14 live events without a single score. Then Vandersmissen found his niche.
"It started in Barcelona with my €150,000 win (December 2010)," he said. "That gave me a bankroll. I learned a lot between that tournament and now. It kind of got me to a level where I'm really happy with my play."
After a second place in a PCA side event, worth $75,000, Vandersmissen found himself in Hinterglemm, in the Austria Alps, where the high altitude, and his share of a €600 bottle of Dom Perignon, invigorated the Belgian, only slightly less than eventual winner Vladimir Geshkenbein, who sniffed at the air, choosing instead to gulp down the booze. In the shadow of Geshkenbein it may have been, but Vandersmissen result was a breakthrough.
"With 200k in winnings you still have to watch a little bit your bankroll, since Snowfest I've had a bankroll to play what I want, so that's probably the biggest thing so far," he said. "I just learned more and more and worked on my game."
The result of that effort is an increased bankroll for Vandersmissen and the freedom to use to to good effect. It's also given him one extra dimension to his game.
"There's one thing that will change; I'll have more confidence," he said. "So when I think a play is right I'll do it faster, even when it looks marginal I'll probably do it much faster because my confidence is way higher than a month ago.
"I think it's (the same) for every player," he added. "You see that a lot with players who win a big tournament, they get pretty good results the next month. I think that's the confidence boost. My confidence has never been low but I've always believed in my game but after a win it's always a level higher."
A confidence Vandersmissen could be ready to use in Berlin.