I had no other choice...

PokerStars festivals are, by far, my favorite. They're enjoyable in a lot of ways; you can visit a new country, meet old friends and make new ones, or just simply have a good time. For some players these are the biggest reasons. like to concentrate on the tournaments and try my very best to maximise my playing ability.

I recently went to Prague EPT, and my first tournament of the series was the €1,100 Eureka Main Event. I felt I played well and in general was satisfied with my game, but I managed to bust out during last three hands of the day. The elimination was hard to take, because I had a built a big stack. I found myself on the wrong end of a cold deck.

The next day I played the €2,200 High Roller, making it into Day 2 and managing to cash, I busted in 72nd due to some bad luck. I had originally decided to play in the evening Turbo €300, but then I saw a €1,100 deep stack which had a much more agreeable tournament structure.


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I really wanted to win this one. I felt extremely focused and was silently repeating, "I have to win it!" as a mantra. I planned each action with the maximum amount of attention, trying not to make any mistakes. What bet-sizing to use? How to play best against each particular player? Step by step, I was moving ahead in the tournament. As the number of players decreased, I was able to maintain a good stack.

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Closer to the bubble, I was able to put pressure on my opponents. An aggressive style works well when emotions are bubbling up and everyone is doing their best to get into the money. When there were three tables left, I was among the chip leaders. At that moment I had an extremely tough table with what looked to be only professionals left in the tournament. I met a fellow countryman who appeared to be an experienced MTT player, and he ended up taking sixth place. As I speak only a little English, it was great to meet players and dealers from Russia and have conversations with them in Russian during the breaks. Being able to do this regularly is really precious to me.

Surprisingly, the final table felt very comfortable, and I felt confident in my abilities. I was able to play a lot of hands and always had a big stack. When we got down to the final three players the tournament seemed like a turbo and luck started to become a major factor. I proposed a deal to my opponents but one of them consistently refused. I knocked him out soon after.

I was left head-up versus a player from Hong Kong. I had met him earlier and we had spoken a little. I offered him a deal but he also declined. After that I had no other choice but to win, and I managed to do so! My happiness was bottomless. I was full of emotion and had a real feeling of triumph. It's just one of the reasons why I like poker so much.

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Ahead I have more hard work planned to improve my game and hopefully some more victories under the PokerStars flag.


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Liliya "Liay5" Novikova is a member of Team Online Pro

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