Sebastian "bassysaffari" Saffari chipping up and aiming for second, at least

Sebastian "bassysaffari" Saffari started Day 3 of the EPT Prague Main Event in rude health. His chunky 428,000 stack, close to three times the average, was good for a spot in the top ten chip counts. This should not come as a surprise. Saffari has clocked up more than $3m in online tournament winnings online (more than $2.6m of which at PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker). The 28-year-old knows how to play.

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Sebastian "bassysaffari" Saffari

Saffari most recently pinged on the PokerStars Blog radar when he won a WCOOP title in the €320 8-game for $36,519. It's not the largest win of his life, but it did come at a good time.

"It's weird because I'd been playing a long time but haven't had a big signature score. I'd just come second in the World Series event, so it was kinda nice to think I've got a first in the WCOOP. I wasn't that bothered about coming second in the WSOP (as opposed to winning) at the time because I was so tired, but a few days afterwards I thought, "shit". It was nice to win the WCOOP," said Saffari.

Online beast looking for live title
The Brit's live earnings stand at a paltry $272,798: paltry in relative terms given the amount that he's won online, and that he bagged $135,932 of that in one WSOP event this summer. His live career could have started out a lot differently. He just missed out on an EPT final table way back in Season 5 at EPT Budapest (October 2008), which was won by Will Fry for €595,840. Noticeably, Martin Jacobson took his first of four final tables there. Jacobson and Saffari have since become friends, both living in Newcastle.

"The thing is I've never made a big live final table. I don't play a lot of live poker, but I've played the World Series for the last three years. I've railed all my friends at final tables, and one of the guys that I lived with in Vegas got two bracelets, and Martin Jacobson has final tabled everything, normally second, but for me I'd never had the experience of making a live final table. I was quite grateful to get there in a 10-game. I've only played one 10-game event in my life," he said.

A big money second-place finish is obviously fantastic, but there seems to be some kind of intangible connection with Newcastle and live second places. Ellwood finished runner-up in one of the first ever UKIPTs, Jacobson has of course had several high profile near-misses. I blame Kevin Keegan and those back-to-back second places finishes in the Premier League in 94-95 and 95-96. What does Saffari attribute it to?

"It's guilty by association really. It's just hanging around with Martin, he gets so many seconds. He did win an EPT side event recently. If you asked him I know he'd be over the moon about it even though it's probably only his 15th or 20th biggest cash ever, but he's chuffed with it. Did he come second in the WPT High Roller the other day? Yeah, I think he did."

Yes, he did, to Govert Metaal in Montreal.

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Martin Jacobson finally bagged a trophy at EPT London

"If you look at my online scores there are a lot of seconds and there should be more firsts. At the same time you've got to ask yourself why people like Martin come second so often. Are they good at laddering up to second place if that's what it takes. Maybe someone like (Chris) Moorman will take ninth place or win the tournament, maybe that's more his style."

Or perhaps it's just grim flipping at the end.

"It's not a big enough sample, but it's definitely something to work on, my heads-up game, for sure."

Saffari, who describes himself as "Half-geordie, half a Londoner", has spent a lot of time in both Newcastle and London, but currently lives in the UK capital.

"All my friends from Newcastle have moved to London, but I met quite a few poker players in Newcastle; Jack Ellwood, Ben Jenkins and all those guys. There's quite a nice group of people there. I've moved down to London because there wasn't quite enough happening in Newcastle in the rest of my life. I've got a football team in London that I play for with my Uni mates. I think you need always need a change of scenery, you know. Newcastle's great. You can play golf all the time, it's nice and empty, and there's always people to go out with, but I'm getting a bit old for that. It's better to look for a wife down in London than Newcastle maybe," said Saffari.

While he may have been playing up the old man role for the cameras, Saffari may have found a way to break that second-place hoodoo: take a train south.

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is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.

Rick Dacey
@PokerStars in European Poker Tour