EPT11 Barcelona: Oliver Price's live heater looks set to continue
Deciding to head to Deauville for the EPT poker festival in January was an easy decision for Oliver Price. Despite being a cash game player by day he was heading there to play the France Poker Series Main Event - a €1,000 buy-in tournament that finished the day the EPT Main Event started.
He wasn't even sure that he was going to play the Main Event, but after some positive persuasion from Dominik Nitsche, who was convinced Price had a big edge over the field, the 23-year-old took the plunge.
It turned out to be a good decision as Price went on to finish third, earning a career high cash of €271,200. Since then Price has added result after result to his résumé, with an outright win in a £1,000 event in the UK, a deep run in the $10,000 WPT LA Poker Classic, a fourth place finish at a €2,000 side-event at EPT San Remo and a fifth place finish in a $5,000 no-limit hold'em event at the WSOP.
And if that wasn't enough, today he finds himself as the biggest stack on the EPTLive feature table, in prime position to chip up around the bubble.
"It's been good," Price says, clear on the fact that Deauville was a springboard to the success that has come since. "It always gives you a lot more confidence when you've done it before, you know how doable it is.
"Also of course it took a bit of bankroll pressure off, the money allowed me to travel a bit more and play these bigger events...Whereas before it was more of a shot taking process that I had to be fairly careful with, just playing some of the softer ones like Deauville for instance. That tournament opened up a lot of doors."
And while many believe only one player is ever happy at the end of a poker tournament - the winner - there were at least two ecstatic players at the conclusion of EPT Deauville.
"I was actually extremely happy with third place in Deauville. It was kind of my goal going into it to ladder up to the top three," Price says. "I did play extremely tight throughout that final table, so yeah to get third that was my aim. Once I got in the top three I planned on opening up, which I did, which I was pleased with. I did fold some hands in marginal spots which I wouldn't usually do."
It's said that you won't win a tournament if you don't believe you can and that certainly resonates with Price.
"I went into future tournaments with the perfect mindset coming off the Deauville result. It allowed me to play without any kind of pressure."
Of all the results that have come after Deauville, it's the win in an event in London that Price believes is the best.
"It's always nice to win a tournament, it's a very pure feeling. So I mean at the time that felt the best just because it was an outright win, in terms of what I'm most proud of I'm not quite sure yet, I haven't really thought about it."
Today Price finds himself on the TV feature table once more playing under the bright lights, but he's taking it all in his stride.
"I've been on a TV table a few times," he says. "Deauville wasn't my first time on a feature table as I was on the TV table during the WSOP Main Event in Las Vegas, that was my first time. It's just one of those things, the first time you get a bit nervous or anxious, but now it feels pretty natural."
And he's aware just how much of an advantage it is to have a big stack on the bubble even if you've got Mike McDonald on your immediate left.
Price says: "Having Mike on my left hasn't been a problem as of yet, but I'm sure it will be at certain points. It's always a dream to have a big stack on the bubble, you can't really ask for much more than that."
And Price believes that despite the EPT being full of good players you can still abuse the bubble.
"Even in a tournament like this you can 100 per cent put pressure on during the bubble period," Price says. "Especially on the short stacks, they need to cash. It's very important that they cash and this is even the experienced good players. They can't just be turning down a min-cash of €8,500. They still have to avoid marginal spots around the bubble."
With his stack, there shouldn't be too many of them for Price.
Follow all the action from the tournament floor on the main EPT Barcelona page. There's hand-by-hand coverage in the panel at the top, including chip counts, and feature pieces below. There's also EPT Live, which is streaming action from Day 3 of the Main Event.