EPT11 Prague: Renewed focus puts Tamer Kamel on course for success
So often, getting your life in order away from the tables reaps dividends on them. It's not just being able to put aside the tribulations of everyday life, it's runs much deeper --a contentment that puts a game of cards into better perspective, so that win or lose you're always thankful for what you've got.
For Tamer Kamel it means a new confidence in his game, one that in recent weeks has helped him reach final tables in both the WPT in Nottingham, and the GUKPT Grand Final in London. In Prague that's now become a deep run in the Main Event. Kamel has rarely been so focused.
"When I speak to my wife she thinks there something wrong with me because I'm not behaving normally," joked Kamel at the break. "But I'm just in the zone."
Kamel is up to more than 1.5 million chips thanks to that zone, which the chip count lists suggest he's been in for nearly four days. But compared to last year, when Kamel cashed 19th, it's an entirely different experience.
"Last year I dropped to four or five K after two hours," said Kamel (read his interview with the PokerStars Blog here). "I ended day one with 30k, day 2 with 30k, day 3 with 40-something, and then managed to spin it up nicely the next day and finish 19th. Now I feel a lot more ready, more confident. "
Much has happened to Kamel in the past 12 months. It was a difficult summer for the Londoner in poker terms, with the World Series in the desert bringing the proverbial dry spell. But then something happened. A trip to Honduras to see his friend Nick 'fu_15' Maimone turned into an experience that would have a lasting effect.
"Nick's a great person in many ways," said Kamel of Maimone, who he met in Las Vegas three years ago. "He helps the community there. He helped me embrace the idea of helping others."
Poker players giving part of their earnings into good causes is nothing new, but for Kamel, who relies greatly on his faith, a trip to an orphanage gave him a new perspective, not just that things beyond poker are important, but also that what he gains from poker can make a difference.
"Nick helps an orphanage out there and it really touched me," he said. "It really put my brain on to focusing really hard on tournaments and [from that] helping less privileged people. It was really fitting that the WPT result was a few weeks later and I manage to run deep. I was able to hand some of my winnings over to that orphanage."
"I'm really focused right now. I've been in this situation before. Last year I made a big mistake with 25 players left, which I wouldn't be doing now. I've learned a lot in the various final tables I've made after that."
Regardless of what happens here Kamel has a lot to be thankful for, not least an understanding wife who gives him the support he needs to compete in what can be a lonely and difficult pursuit.
"[My wife is a] massive part of why I feel like I can embrace these tournaments and put everything into them, because I know she's there and I'm doing my best. She knows how hard it is and she's always so supportive."
Right now that's good for a place in the last 24, and with one level to play tonight, he looks certain go deeper than he did 12 months ago. And if not, well, all signs suggest they'll be a next time.
Full coverage of the EPT Prague Poker Festival is on the main EPT Prague page.
Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.