Eureka3 Bulgaria, Day 1B: Making it Raine

"In one month I final tabled three live events and won two of them," Neil Raine tells me as we perch on a bench outside in the scorching sunshine during the first break of play. But his live heater of late is no mere fluke, no variance induced uptick but more the result of a long hard graft by the professional poker player from Scarborough.

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Neil Raine

"I've played about 4,000,000 hands online," Raine tells me. "My brother was a pro and I took up poker in my final year at University in 2009. I started playing online and hardly went to Uni. I did get my degree in Business though," he tells me.

And like most players he started off small. "I started playing $3 sit and gos, never played outside of my limits and just grinded it up," he states. He followed the path of players who taste success online by dipping his toe into live poker and the festival circuit. "I've always played live but mostly local, in 2010 I played a couple of UKIPT's. But It wasn't until 2012 where I made an effort to play live a lot."

And that effort paid immediate dividends as he took down a €100 side event at the first UKIPT event of Season 3 in Galway and from that point onwards he was almost permanently at the top of the UKIPT leader board. He looked set to win it and with it a seat to every UKIPT stop in Season 4. However, in the final event he was overtaken. "I really wanted to win the UKIPT leader board as I'd played a lot of events over the season but got pipped by my good friend Tom Hall, we're still mates though!"

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Raine - from pain came gains

But every cloud has a silver lining and it was in the aftermath of this crushing blow that he went on his live heater, winning a France Poker Series event for €60,000, taking ninth in the Belgian Poker Challenge event in Middelkerke and then winning a GUKPT event in Stockton for £17,690, Hall finished fourth in that same event. "I think the France Poker Series result is the one I'm most proud of, but I'll still play within my roll, I don't want to punt £5k on one tournament. I still take a $50 freezeout seriously, some players play them like they don't matter. Every tournament matters and I think having a big score early on can damage you, make it harder to drop back down if you have to."

But despite his live success he knows which side his bread is buttered. "I'm still definitely an online player, I play online five days a week. When I play live I like to play abroad, like to travel. I also think the side events at PokerStars events are better than other tours, which makes the travel worthwhile. It makes it better value. Usually I'll only travel to events if a friend or I has qualified online."

And Raine has some advice for the online heroes getting into live poker. "I think when a lot of players transition from online to live they play really badly. I think you need to concentrate on not spewing and take lower variance lines, especially post-flop. This is because, in general, live players are not as good and play quite ABC. So you can value town then easily or make easy folds. Online players definitely spew too much when they're inexperienced playing live."

The Brit has already had a successful trip to Bulgaria as he took down last nights €220 turbo freezeout, beating 80 other players to the €4,625 first prize. "It's my first Bulgarian flag," he tells me. If he keeps it up it won't be his last that's for sure.

Tournament Update:

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Full Tilt Ambassador Hana Soljan

Eliminations: Full Tilt Ambassador Hana Soljan is out, she ran her pocket kings into the pocket aces of Jarkko Romppanen, the Finn is now flying as he's up to around 40,000 and is one of the early chip leaders. He's also won a seat to the turbo deepstack on Sunday as a result of wearing a Full Tilt patch.

A few more exits to tell you about though as: Konstantin Dinev, Mateusz Moolhuizen, Alexey Fedorov, Alain Medesan and Yordan Atanasov are all out.

We're into level four now, blinds are 100-200 and 208 of the 221 players remain.

All photos are copyright of Tomas Stacha

Nick Wright
@PokerStars in Eureka Poker Tour