EPT10 Vienna: Bright, Ballsy, Bulgarian. Simeon Naydenov chases final table spot
Flying high in the main event is Simeon Naydenov. The Bulgarian has oozed confidence for much of this week, and his stack of 1.8 million is the proof. Bulgaria may not be a hotbed of poker, but it has of late produced two success stories in Dimitar Danchev and Atanas Gueorguiev. Right now Naydenov is on course to become the third.
At the break Naydenov had just come off a level in which he had doubled his stack on what was in his words an "aggressive table full of young players". But while some might have flinched at such a line-up, Naydenov seems to thrive.
"I'm getting more confident depending on my game," said Naydenov. "If I'm playing bad I know I'm playing bad and I lose my confidence. If I'm playing good I'm generally more confident. I'm trying to play better. I'm more focused, more concentrated. I play more attention to the daily stuff - food sleep training and all that stuff. This is what helps me improve my game."
Simeon Naydenov (right)
Naydenov's story is quite straightforward. Now aged 26, he got his degree in Business and Economics and began playing poker with friends. Then he tried a casino and, as he put it, "kicked all the donks". That gave him the impetus to start playing professionally, with his first major cash coming in Varna, in 2009, where he finished fourth in a €1,000 event picking up €18,600.
But after nearly six years as a pro his turning point came last summer, when he won the $1,500 shootout bracelet at the World Series of Poker worth $326,440.
"My bracelet gave me the confidence I need for the last few years," said Naydenov. "I knew I was a good player and deserved a big win. It finally came. I've had a few small successes, but nothing more major. It improved the way I think."
So far it's working. A final table finish would almost guarantee he moved into second place on the Bulgarian money list, behind only Danchev. Three quality players vying to be their country's best.
Naydenov will take that and has great hopes for more poker players coming from Bulgaria and the rest of Eastern Europe. Right now he's at the forefront of that campaign.
Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter.