EPT8 Campione: No smooth running for variance embracing Karr

ept-thumb-promo.jpgMcLean Karr has become a regular face on the EPT, so much so that's he's beginning to blend into the crowd. That's no mean feat for a tall guy with a lot of table chat. At EPT Madrid he seemed to merge identities with Kevin MacPhee, although that didn't seem to help him as he bubbled the main event, and last night, as he stood smoking on his balcony, we had trouble deciding if it was Karr, a PokerStars events manager or a blogger for PokerNews.

Karr, who has $2,228,390 of live tournament winnings to his name, is currently navigating his way through this Day 1A with around 15,900 of his starting 30,000 stack left but appears to be remaining active. This should come as little surprise given that at EPT Madrid he more than proved he's not someone willing to weakly limp into the money.

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McLean Karr grinding at EPT Campione

"I think the cut-off opened and I had fives in the small blind," started Karr, talking through the hand that saw him bubble EPT Madrid little more than a week ago, "I had about 30 blinds, he opened as a big stack on the bubble, I had a pair and thought that three-bet calling would put me in a worse place against his range. I thought that it was better, slightly more profitable to shove there than fold or three-bet call."

After shuffling to the side of the tournament floor to avoid a legion of Italians pushing through for the break, Karr continued: "He'd opened every now and then from late position and with the bubble dynamics I thought it was a good place to shove but as it was he had tens."

You're shoving more liberally than most in that situation. Is it because you've played so many events and had a lot of success already?

"Yeah, sure. Once you get used to playing events a little more you get used to viewing the chips as chips rather than as real tangible money at the time. Sure they represent equity but there's a certain detachment that you need, some people are born with but others have to learn through experience.

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Karr bubbling EPT Madrid

"When you play you have to think 'What is the right mathematical play here?' and do the strategy in your head. Since I've got the experience playing lots of bubbles it's easier for me to carry through with a play that I may think is right rather than get scared and fold. Over time you can develop the temerity to shove the 30 big blinds."

Karr has a large embossed ring, one of those popular in the States to celebrate sporting achievements, such as winning the Super Bowl. Well, that's as far as I understood it. They're called class rings supposedly, something we don't get in Europe.

"It's from the United States Air Force Academy," said Karr, twisting his fist inwards and upwards to look down at the ring. "I graduated from there in 2004, it's the Air Force's version of West Point (a school for officer candidates). After that I was an Air Force officer for a little time. It's something that you get at the end of your third year."

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The ring of which we speak...

Most, however, do not come with a diamond ring set into the centre of the bezel.

"The stone in here is actually from the ring that my dad originally proposed to my mum with. Since then he's upgraded her so he's given it to me to keep it in the family. It's got sentimental value on several levels."

Karr, who plays online at PokerStars under the name PureProfitFo , has just one EPT main event cash to his name, a 60th place finish at the EPT Grand Final last season for €20,000 (he was knocked out with tens to the jacks of runner-up Torsten Brinkmann's jacks). But EPTs aren't just about the mains anymore. Karr took down the £10,000 High Roller Turbo at EPT London Season 6 for £270,500, helping him considerably on his way to winning $872,572 on this side of the Atlantic over the last two years. While EPT main event success has thus far eluded him, you can't help feeling a deep run is just around the corner. So what does he think of differences between North American and European tourneys?

"European events right now tend to have really great numbers. They also tend to skew a little bit younger than other events, which can be good and bad. It can mean that you have a lot of those kids that have that detachment, they're still young and don't have responsibilities. If they lose the money, 'Oh, it's poker, it's fun money and I can go home and live with my parents.' So you have a little more aggression here than you do in the States. That doesn't necessarily mean that it's better or worse. It can mean it's trickier. In the States it's skewed a little older so there's guys waiting for perhaps a slightly tighter range of hands."

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Karr adopting the MacPhee

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And the real McCoy MacPhee

Although he's had plenty of success in tournaments he's not a one trick pony, as he leans on cash games, frequently PLO, to buffer the dry patches on tour.

"Yeah, absolutely I play cash games frequently at stops. If you bust early or there's no side event that you want to play it's a great way to get a useful full day's work in. On the EPT (I've come out on top) but this year so far I've had a rough time thanks to Australia but that's how it goes sometimes. You can't win at every stop, especially if you're playing high variance games like Omaha. You have to embrace the swings."

Coming from a guy who's happy to follow his read by shoving thirty big blinds on the bubble with pocket fives, you know that's he's as good as his word. That variance is bound to throw Karr's name into the final 24 soon and with three main events left, it could yet be this season.

Tournament snapshot
Level 6: blinds 200-400, ante 50
Players: 150 of 178
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Rick Dacey
@PokerStars in Campione