WSOP 2013: Puchkov best prepared for a main event fight

It became known as the Battle of Fairmont Hill. On the last day of EPT Monaco the PokerStars Blog team waited outside their hotel for a taxi that would take them to the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel where the final last day of play was about to commence.

The taxi duly arrived and the doorman told the driver where we wanted to go. Only the driver didn't want to go there. It was too close, he said. Not worth his time. That's when the trouble started.

We began protesting, with vigour, as the doorman shrugged and asked the man behind us where he wanted to go, contravening the unwritten but universally accepted law of queuing. Wherever it was this other guy wanted to go it was more profitable than our destination so he was swiftly ushered into the back of the taxi.

Using some leftover Waterloo spirit, we chose not to give up, and began climbing into the taxi regardless. I don't know if we thought this would work, but we were high on principle by now. As we opened the door the driver began yelling and pointing. With what little French we knew, we reminded him of the oath he took as a taxi driver to serve and protect those who were next in line at the cab rank. Evidently this code meant nothing to him, and as we yelled words that we had no way of knowing were true, the driver and his apologetic passenger drove off, leaving us, a pathetic scene, stranded.

Konstantin Puchkov in action on the EPT

That passenger was Konstantin Puchkov, an amiable Russian poker player who enjoys a state of almost permanent success wherever he plays poker series'.

It often helps your main event campaign to have had a bit of a run up, some solid results that point to a spell of good form, confidence and that touch of class that can be pivotal when, surrounded by 2,000 players, push comes to shove.

This also applies to race horses, which Konstantin Puchkov should know about, having bred them to success in his native Russia - but also the man himself as he looks to round off another excellent summer with success in the main event. This World Series alone Puchkov has had six cashes, including three final tables (he came third in the 2-7 Lowball event).

Konstantin Puchkov in the Brasilia Room today

But was that the "run up?" Maybe it was the five cashes in side events at EPT Monaco that was the run up? Or the five cashes he scored during EPT Berlin, all of which amounted to a fourth place finish on the Player of the Year Leader board.

No, I like to think that it all started in Monaco, outside a lawless five-star hotel, and the battle of Fairmont Hill.

Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter. Pictures courtesy of Poker Photo Archive.