EPT10 London: Talking focus, fast cars and £300,000 with Team Pro's Marcin Horecki

Marcin Horecki was early to rise this morning and seated from the start of Day 1A. The Polish player recorded the best result of his live poker career in this city, third place in the EPT London main event in season four, and it has been a must-play on his annual schedule since then.

But if his early tweets today were any indication, he wasn't as focused as he'd have expected himself to be.

Among the blunders a poker player can make, mucking when you're due half a chopped pot is not one of the most significant, particularly during level one. But the more general "not paying due attention" can definitely be damaging to long-term expectation. God is in the details, and distractions are the devil's work.

"It's not an easy task to get into the zone," Horecki said, when we caught up with him during a break in play. "Sometimes you go straight in, and sometimes you need a few levels to try to get the focus. Sometimes you don't get the focus for the whole day and your game is not perfect."

He continued: "I try to have a positive mind and if I'm positive and optimistic about things then I play solid poker. But today, somehow I was distracted from the very beginning and I made a few mistakes."

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Marcin Horecki: Staying focused

The mistake in question only cost the Team PokerStars Pro half of a 1,700 pot and he said it managed to snap him out of his unusually unfocused mood. It's something he thinks a lot about, having moved to poker from a career as a skier, where losing concentration can be the difference between a place on the podium in garlands and a place on a stretcher with a broken leg.

"It's a bit different [when you're skiing]," Horecki said. "A typical run lasts maybe 60 seconds, but the last 15 minutes before you start you have to go deep inside and try to focus on what you have to do on the slope. There are sports where you have to be on top for a very short period of time, like the 100m, you have to be really focused at one moment before the start and then you perform well. But poker is a bit different because you play for a week, 12 hours a day, and if you focus every second of the week, then you will be mentally exhausted."

Boredom and exhaustion can be dangerous too and Horecki takes measures to keep himself from becoming submerged in poker, poker, poker. He has brought a book with him to the tables (George R.R. Martin's Nawalnica Mieczy), which he has spread in spine-breaking formation on the elbow rest in front of him, and an iPhone sitting on a Duracell power mat, through which Horecki is tweeting to the world.

"The book is basically because at the very beginning you have 300 big blinds and sometimes after ten minutes you know what the players can do at the table," he said. "Some people tweet, some people are playing open face on their app, and some people are just sitting there. For me personally, I can play too many hands. I'm not known as a loose player, but it can happen sometimes and I shouldn't do it when the blinds are small. You risk more than you can win. It's much better for me to read a book, to let me step away and take my time."

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Marcin Horecki: wrapped up in books

With Dan Smith to his immediate left, Horecki can't really afford to be anything less than on his game, and he has made a bit of a comeback in the past few levels, pushing his stack higher than the 30,000 he began with.

If you multiply that number by ten, you get somewhere close to the money Horecki made at that final table in 2008, a £330,000 payday that he describes to this day as "groundbreaking". It permitted Horecki entry to poker's top table, and he has subsequently finished in the top three again on the European Poker Tour, on a trip to Prague in 2010.

For all that, this isn't actually Horecki's favourite place in the world. "To be honest, I don't like London," he said. "I don't like the architecture, I don't like too many people. I don't like the roads where you just sit in a jam instead of going fast. I have a fast car and I like to drive fast." (Suddenly the notion of playing too many hands makes sense.) "But yes, it was a game-changing result for me and I like to play in London. But I don't like anything else."

Should things go south either today, tomorrow or later in the week, Horecki can no doubt get in that car and head away at any pace he likes. But until that happens, the poker - or George R.R. Martin, at least - will have all of his focus.

No more chopped pot folds.

Follow all the action from Day 1A on the EPT London Day 1A page, with chip counts and hand-by-hand reporting. Information about the Super High Roller event is on the Super High Roller page. EPT Live is at EPT Live.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour