EPT10 Deauville: Sotirios Koutoupas, a man with a dream (and sometimes a smile)
Sotirios Koutoupas is from the Eugene Katchalov school of poker. If you were to take a quick look at him playing poker you would think he's a misery guts. He hunches over the table, bright red headphones on top of his head, regularly sporting a sour face. Katchalov is the same, just without the gaudy headphones. But should you talk to either of them away from the table you'll find them both warm, friendly and quick to smile.
"I want to be the first Greek player who wins the EPT," said Koutoupas during the first break of the day. "I'll do my best."
Koutoupas finished second to Ramzi Jelassi at EPT Prague last season pocketing €510,000 after some fascinating and entertaining three-handed deal negotiations, which eventually fell flat. You can take a look at the full wrap of the final table and tournament here, but the following text was a fair assessment at the time.
Koutoupas proved a tricky newbie to defeat, performing at his best despite the lights and the cameras, the Greek flag fluttering in the air conditioning, pinned to the barrier a few feet behind him. Rumour has it that bars across his home town of Salonika they were watching the EPT Live feed on big screens. Tonight they can be rightly proud of their hero, who may have overachieved, but never looked out of place. By finishing second he inks in the best result for a Greek player on the tour and becomes the leading Greek money winner.
Since then, Koutoupas has been doing his best to show that second-place finish wasn't an overachievement, that his statement 'Let's play' wasn't just bravado. Koutoupas is not a pro or a full-time player, but has started picking up results and stacks that some tour pros would be pretty jealous of. The part-time player has since managed a 56th in the EPT Berlin Main Event for €15,000 and 25th at the recent EPT Prague for €24,900. That shows some decent consistency, which is being highlighted again today with another big stack weighing in at more than 300,000 (and was as high as 400,000 earlier today).
When Koutoupas finished second at EPT Prague it rocketed him up the Greek all-time money list, but since then there has been a lot of success for the Greeks on tour. Georgios Karakousis finished second at EPT London for £349,200 and George Manousos Sotiropoulos won €700,000 for his runner-up spot at EPT Prague just before Christmas. It's been quite the purple patch for Greek poker, which has seen Koutoupas slide back down the list into third place.
Greece all-time money list
1. George Manousos Sotiropoulos, $1,000,328
2. Georgios Karakousis, $896,890
3. Sotirios Koutoupas, $743,799
4. Konstantinos Nanos, $686,567
5. Georgios Kapalas, $ 633,862
Koutoupas manages a family run business, which started by his father, alongside his two brothers. They manage the business while he's away. It's reminiscent of EPT champ Roberto Romanello and his Welsh fish and chip restaurants. The big €510,000 win in Prague has made life smoother for Koutoupas and has allowed him to play more poker. He travels the tour with EPT Vienna third-place finisher Konstantinos Nanos.
"It makes my real job in Greece much easier and all my trips much better. I travel a lot," said Koutoupas, whose English is significantly better than my Greek. "My friends tell me that I'm good, a solid player. It's my style, every one has his style in poker.
A fourth-place finish for €188,153 would be enough to send Koutoupas back into the number one spot once again. Koutoupas has just made the money here in Deauville, thanks to Stephen Chidwick's pocket kings getting cracked by Tobias Wagner's ace-king, but his eyes are set on the final table and the a first EPT title for Greece.
"It's a long road, but it's my dream.," said Koutoupas.
Click through to live updates, features and interviews from the EPT Deauville Main Event.
Rick Dacey is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.