EPT9 Barcelona: Sea, sand and winning poker tournaments

ept-thumb-promo.jpg

Yesterday the PokerStars Women event played out its final table. Boasting a talented line-up, including Leo Margets, Lucia Martinez and Charlotte van Brabander; it was won by Russian pro Liya Gerasimova, a regular on the European Poker Tour, who credited her lucky dress with bringing her luck, and a cheque for €10,700.

As Gerasimova beamed to the waiting cameras her boyfriend, Team Pro Ivan Demidov, was missing the action, and instead was on the beach, a short walk away, splashing around in the sea with the couple's two-year-old son Gregori.

"That's how we do it," laughed Demidov at the break. "Someone has to stay with our son."

Demidov, runner-up in the 2008 World Series Main Event, met Gerasimova while they both travelled to tournaments with other Russian players. "She kind of bluffed me from a big pot and that's why I remembered her!" he said. "That was actually 2008, at the World Series, at the same time."

I said that made 2008 a pretty good year. He agreed.

Having kids though is hardly the traditional career path of the professional poker player, some of whom are closer to needing parents than becoming them.

But for Demidov, a happy son running around in the sand puts poker back into perspective, although it's not easy to play online when that same son rightly demands attention when you're working. It's certainly the biggest change Demidov has had to contend with.

ivan_demidov_ept9bar_d1b.jpg
Ivan Demidov in Monaco

"It definitely hurts my online hours," he said. "I even rented an office to play in because it's really hard to play at home when there is a little kid there. It hurts my online play but other than that it's fine. I tilt much less now and if I bust from a live tournament I go to my family and it helps."

Does he travel less now he has a family?

"I travel less but I don't think it's because I have a son," he said. "When I became a live pro I played too much. I travelled everywhere, from Australia then I flew right to St Petersburg to play a tournament and then to Europe. It was too much and I got burned out. I play less now but I don't think it affects me so much. I can always go back home."

Today Demidov sits in the far corner of the tournament room, his appearance the same as it always is: a little tired and well, bored looking. So is the explanation for this owing to the rigours of late night childcare, robbing him of sleep?

"No," he said, laughing. "That's always like it was for me. Live play is pretty slow. People can think for ten minutes and do nothing, so there is no action. I tend to get bored. I start feeling tired. That's just the way live games are for me. That's why I don't play live cash games because it's too slow for me.

"But tournaments are different. The first hours are pretty boring but you still have to look and notice how your opponents play. But, there's still a lot of free time. You can browse online, you can sleep! Do whatever you want."

There was a celebratory dinner last night for Gerasimova, with Demidov and some of the travelling Russian players eating at a waterfront restaurant in the Port Olympic. She may have put her success down to a lucky dress but it was nothing more than the work of another great player. Demidov agreed.

liya_gerasimova_ept9bar_psw_w_ft_d1b.jpg
Liya Gerasimova

"She is a very good player," he said, pointing out her record, highlighting a fifth place finish at the World Series in 2009. "Now she lacks practice because she doesn't play much. [When we met] she was a very good player. She could definitely compete with men. Now she needs some practice, but she's still pretty good."

Gerasimova may lack practice but has already shown signs of being back up to speed. If she does well or if things get a little too slow for Demidov, there's always another trip to the beach.