"It's about time!" Simeon "AstraLito" Todorov on his TCOOP title
Simeon "AstraLito" Todorov, 32, won Event #31 of TCOOP earlier this week, a win worth $35,053 as well as a first title. Here he talks about TCOOP, being a professional player, and poker in general. Plus the hardest thing he's ever had to do...
On reaching the final table...
"It felt pretty standard/normal for me. I haven't done it before, but it felt natural. On the final two tables I knew the other Bulgarian - "bah23" - who is one of the best Bulgarian poker players, and the online machine - "SixthSense19". I was very happy to be on the other table!
"I was pretty upset to lose the ace-ten vs. ace-eight vs. jack-ten hand with seven left, where if it held we were going to be five on the final table with me being the chip leader."
"The two most important hands were vs. 7HE__D__ASH. First I doubled up big blind vs. small blind (22 vs. two overs, I believe) and a few hands before the deal he opened on the button to 12M (blinds 3M/6M/ante) and I shoved from the small blind for 24M, and he folded.
"Shortly after there was a deal, where I was the chip leader (with 8bb!) and secured 28k for my efforts. In just four hands I'd managed to bust the other five players and win the additional $6.5k left for the TCOOP champion."
On being a professional player...
"I was a full-time player back in 2015. I had a dream to become Supernova on PokerStars. And I did after making close to 110,000 VPP in 2015, by only playing tournaments. I'd started 2016 strong (in January) again, but February and March were bad... I've decided to stop playing online for a while.
"It's kind of funny, but when you are playing poker for 14 hours every day and then you stop, even for just a little bit, the desire to come back at the tables diminishes. I just didn't want to do that anymore. So nine months later I'm just playing poker for recreation and fun.
"Nowadays I am working as a part time poker consultant. I became Tournament Director at the age of 23 in "Casino Sofia", but these times are way behind me. I remain recognizable for the countless hours working in the casinos."
On growing up in Bulgaria...
"I grew up in a city called Varna. I've spent the first 18 years of my life there. When I was accepted in Sofia University I moved to the capital of Bulgaria and [I've been] living here ever since.
"Varna is a beautiful city. I have a lot of good memories there as well as some bad, because I'm from the suburbs and life was sometimes not as easy. 'Whatever doesn't kill you, simply makes you stranger!'"
On the hardest thing he's ever done...
"It took me ten years to propose to my girlfriend Mariya (nowadays also known as my wife). We won a PCA package in a contest for funny videos - the winner chosen personally by Jason Alexander from Seinfeld (you can watch their entry here).
On celebrating his TCOOP win...
"There were people watching me, cheering me and writing me on Facebook when I sat on the final table. After I won I posted it on Facebook and Twitter and the reaction was warm. Basically most of the people were saying "it was about time".
On learning how to play poker...
"I was introduced to the game by my very good friend Ludman. He showed me the basics and taught me to a lot of principles about the game.
"In the years to come a lot of people influenced me to become better - Tsonev, Exception, Born, Sasho The Difference, Atanas Gueorguiev and Simeon Naydenov.
"But it was just two years ago when my latest poker coach - Stoyan "StoyanB" Boyadzhiev - which I consider one of the most consistent and good poker players that I know - dedicated a great deal of time to me. I believe that the 14 months spent with him are the one thing that made me who I am today as a poker player. I'm very grateful to him!
"P.S. He became second in the Sunday Million on 15th of January (about a week ago)."
On poker at home...
In the beginning it was difficult to explain to people what I was doing and why. However, my mother is a very exceptional woman and she quickly understood that I am not a degenerate gambler, but I was putting effort into this and thought of it as my full time job.
"My wife is playing poker. My brother is a professional poker player who has just a few losing months for the last six years (if any at all).
On poker in Bulgaria...
"In my hometown there is live poker only in the summer. In Sofia the poker is thriving! There are eight-plus cash tables 24/7 in Casino Sofia.
"We have WSOP gold bracelet winners, Eureka champion, PCA champion (not every night 'course) and a lot of recreational players of the best kind (they are thinking that they are good and have solved poker already! )
"Sofia is great destination for poker - the games are good and everything is cheap!
On all the other stuff...
"I don`t even think that 'poker player' is something that really describes me. I always enjoyed all aspects of the game and wanted to create something unique and entertaining and also wanted to expand and unite the Bulgarian poker society. I felt more myself being a tournament director, hosting the first ever Bulgarian Live poker academy, and I really like my current role as host of the poker Twitch TV show - Grinders TV, where I invite guests, make interviews and discuss poker and gaming.
"I also enjoy being in the spotlight! If someone really evaluates my poker game it might not be more than "average" and I won`t even get offended. I see poker as fun and entertainment, I don`t think I am really among the best Bulgarian poker players.
On what he's looking forward to next...
There are four events that I'm looking forward to attend in my life:
- A Manchester United vs. Liverpool game.
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Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog. Follow him on Twitter: @StephenBartley.