SCOOP 2015: The man behind the mirrors
Here is your rare permission, a ridiculous opportunity, an okay to commit an ignorance that will only be afforded to you this one time. We don't cotton to people who judge books by their cover, but, hey, this is poker, and you need to make a read.
So get a read on this guy in the mirrored shades.
How do you play him?
I'll give you a little more information for your read: he's 26 and Greek, but he lives in Canada (Halifax, specifically), because that's where his girlfriend goes to school.
When he gets free time, he spends a lot of it like this.
Ready to take him on? Think your read is solid?
Right then. Onward.
You're not going to learn his name (he wants that kept private), but on PokerStars he goes by Vagos89, and a few days ago, he won the $82 NL Holdem Heads-Up SCOOP event for $25,000.
Because he had nothing better to do.
"I honestly entered the tournament just for fun because I was a bit bored at the time. It's kind of hard to find 2,566 people to compete with in anything, really, other than a PokerStars event," he said. "I have had similar days in cash games, but winning a tournament is always something to remember. I still to this day remember the time when I won my first ever PokerStars tournament with a buy in of 10 cents and a grand first place prize of $8.50. In complete honesty, it ironically felt almost the same."
What may be hard to tell behind the mirrored shades or as he flashes by on a board is that Vagos89 is a Renaissance man. He's a pro poker player who spends his spare time on wheels or snow, and when he's not doing that, he's in in a kitchen. See, this guy who at first glance looks like he might subsist on trail mix and death metal is in fact a connoisseur of fine foods.
"I really enjoy trying to cook high-end food and going to Michelin-starred restaurants to enjoy the food and get new ideas," he said.
In a game where we often count on our first reads being right, Vagos89 tends to defy it all. He's a skater and he's a snow boarder, sure, but that doesn't define him anymore than his heavy metal t-shirts do.
"Sliding down a mountain just gives you a feeling of absolute freedom like no other," he said.
Freedom--mental and physical--seems to be what your man in the shades is all about.
When he slows down, though, this guy is a thinker, one who can sit for hours chatting with this friends about philosophy (don't forget, he's Greek). He's ended up this way--a philosopher-boarder-cook who can play poker with the best--because of a few people back in Greece.
"I really respect my parents and the way they raised me and taught me how to think," he said. "They really cared about my education and also my ethical values at a very early stage and also taught me how to make the right choices and make the right decisions which is obviously really useful in poker, but also in life in general. Also my godparents ironically played a really crucial role in helping me develop a logical way of thinking and reasoning, and I believe that this played a catalytic role in my success in general."
It's that kind of life--one built from a thinking family, one spent on the road, one that follows love across the globe, one that finds peace in chaos, one that finds joy in making things--that makes up the man behind the mirrors and how he looks at life.
He said, "Everyone is capable of accomplishing almost anything if they truly set their mind to it and if they really want it."
It's that kind of life, as it turns out, that makes a SCOOP champion.
Brad Willis is the PokerStars Head of Blogging