EPT12 Malta: Ari Engel grinds his way to the dinner break chip lead

Ari Engel might be one of the most ultimate live grinders on the poker circuit today. The American pro made his name online during the early to mid part of the century but since Black Friday, his focus shifted to live tournaments. His nomadic lifestyle (he's spent the last three years on the road playing with no fixed abode) has obviously had a positive effect on his game. He's cashed for over $2.1 million lifetime and has already cashed 28 times in 2015 for $312,843.

Engel has clearly brought his "A" game to Malta as well as he's already cashed for €7,740 with a 20th place finish in the IPT High Roller event and he came back from dinner break in the EPT Main Event with 120,000, good for the chip lead at the time. Engel had a quick chat with the PokerStars Blog before he retook his seat for the last two levels of the night.

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Ari Engel knows how to grind it out

"I've been running well today but haven't really had any huge hands. All the good situations are happening; I've had aces a bunch of times and they've held up - just a pretty standard day where thing have been going my way.

"My first table wasn't so easy to take advantage of but the play was fairly good and I got in a few situations where I was able to win some small-medium pots. It wasn't super-soft or anything and, I mean, I'm used to playing in the US and any time you're in Europe you can't say it's soft. Obviously things kind of did go my way!

"I tend to play every situation as it arises and will do for the rest of the day. I don't really have a game plan. I'm pretty new to this table so I'm still feeling out how everyone's playing. Hopefully I don't lose them all but it's No-Limit so you can never be too sure about what's going to happen."

We stuck around and watched Engel for a few hands and things didn't go his way. He played four hands and lost them all to drop to around 108,000. They played out like this:

Engel raised to 1,200 from the button and folded when Diogo Cardoso three-bet to 3,500 from the small blind.

Engel raised the next hand, to 1,200 and Cardoso called in position to see an A♠A♦3♥ flop. Engel continued for 1,300 and Cardoso called. Engel gave up the initiative from there on in as he checked the 9♥T♥ turn and river, calling a 1,800 bet on the turn but folding to a 2,300 bet on the river.

Engel raised to 1,300 from mid position and was called by Cardosa and Anton Kraus in the big blind. All three checked the 8♥5♠6♥ flop and 8♣ turn before Cardoso took down another pot with a 2,600 bet on the A♣ river.

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Engel (foreground) had trouble with Cardoso

Engel raised to 1,300 from under the gun and was only called by Laurent Cessy in the big blind. Engel continued for 1,300 on a K♥J♦4♠ flop and Cessy check-called to see the J♣ appear on the turn. He checked and Engel did likewise before the board completed with the 9♠. Cessy led for 2,700 and Engel folded.

Engel knows one thing for sure about his new table: he's not going to get his own way. At least all the posts he lost were small ones and were traded for information that will be useful as the last level of the night rolled around.

We obviously weren't doing his game any good by hanging around so left him to concentrate.

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Everything about EPT Malta is on the main EPT Malta page. More specifically, all the side event coverage can be found here.

Begin plotting your own bid for EPT glory by downloading the PokerStars client and having a crack. Follow this EPT event via the EPT app. There you will get all the latest news, chip counts and payouts. You can download it on Android or IOS


Marc Convey
@The_Conv in European Poker Tour