EPT9 London: Tim Davie taking great leaps up the poker ladder

The Twitter biography of Tim Davie (@Tim_Davie) reads: "Work hard, play hard". But while common applications of the phrase suggest that these two things should be done separately, the professional contemporary poker player knows they are not mutually exclusive notions.

If you don't work hard at your poker game these days, you simply cannot expect to be able to play hard. Professional poker players are precisely that -- professional -- and if you've chosen this line of work, then you need to be prepared to graft at it.

Davie, from Sussex in the UK, only turned 23 on Saturday and little more than a year ago was graduating from university and seeking a career. While his friends are now still applying for jobs and going for interviews, Davie has not only found his calling, but is also beginning to show the results of his application. He is gradually climbing what passes for a corporate ladder in the poker world, and it is not by chance alone.

After putting the hours in online, then travelling around the Estrellas Poker Tour, the UKIPT, the France Poker Series and the PokerStars Hold'em Challenge (in Germany), he is now playing his first EPT Main Event. And if things continue to go as well as they did on day one, after which he was in the top ten chip counts in the tournament, it will only be what he deserves.

"I try to put as much volume in online as I possibly can, because that's the bread and butter," Davie said. "I have quite a good work ethic; I try not to miss a Sunday and I try not to go out drinking on a Saturday if I can. It's quite hard because most of my friends don't really play poker and obviously Friday and Saturday is a good time to go out. And obviously they're the best days to play too: Friday, Saturday and Sunday."

Those are the realities of a career in the fierce contemporary poker world. This is not something for hobbyists anymore.


Tim Davie on day two at EPT London, his first appearance on the tour

In his relatively short career, Davie has become something of an online qualification machine, hitting the satellite tables to book his place at various major events. He is playing here in London having qualified via a £500 satellite. He bubbled two, but then managed it at the third attempt.

Davie travels frequently with his friend Neil Raine, whose success this season on the UKIPT meant the pair ended up playing more poker than even they had expected. For much of the season, Raine was atop the UKIPT leader board, which offers a passport to all stops next year for its winner. It meant that side events became far more important to Raine than going out to party, whatever the location, and so Davie buckled down too and began using the trips predominantly for poker rather than boozing.

"When I first started travelling (for poker), about a year and a half ago, we would go out five or six nights we were there," Davie said. "It was a bit too much...I focus much more now."

Davie's day two has also been good. He was sitting at the same table as Jason Tompkins, who made the final table of EPT Sanremo, and James Mitchell, a former Irish Open champion, both of whom have demonstrated the benefit of applying oneself to the game. Tompkins is a member of "The Firm", the collective of Irish players headed by Dara O'Kearney and David Lappin, which takes bankroll management and game selection exceptionally seriously.

Lappin told me earlier this week that he considers his greatest achievement in poker to be still on the circuit and playing the game more than eight years after he first started. This is an industry that chews them up and spits them out, and you have to run exceptionally quickly just to stay in the same place. Lappin is rightly proud that he can still call himself a professional poker player and the younger generation, such as Tompkins and Davie, are very well-advised to start off their careers on the right, organised footing.

"Game selection is just as important as bankroll management," said Davie. "You can have x amount of buy-ins, but if the game's really tough, then... Even tournaments you should game select."

He continued: "I like going to the live tournaments, but I think they're hard. There's so much variance in them and travelling five days to play a £1,000 tournament, I don't feel that's that profitable, to be honest, no matter how soft they are...I just want to keep putting in as much volume as I can online and mixing in a live tournament, maybe one every month. Me and my friend were talking about maybe going to Vegas, but I'm not sure about it yet."

They are still some way off the bubble at EPT London at time of writing, but Davie is still well stacked. And earning some extra spending money here would certainly help bolster his bankroll for new challenges ahead.

"I want to go to Marbella (for the UKIPT)," Davie said. "Maybe on that one we'll bend the rules a little bit."


Follow live coverage of the EPT London main event on the EPT London page. Follow the final stages of the UKIPT main event on the UKIPT page. Follow the @PokerStarsBlog Twitter account to keep up-to-date with all the EPT action.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour