Tuesday, 31st January 2023 06:22
Home / News / Amiti downs the pros for famous win in Missing People Charity Event

There was a hugely popular winner of the Missing People Charity Event here at EPT London last night when Sonia Amiti, a recreational player from Toronto, Canada, beat a field of 90 to a £6,931 first prize.

Amiti was playing only her fifth live tournament, and was ecstatic with the result.

“I had a fantastic time,” Amiti said. “It really felt surreal when I got to the final table, and I still can’t believe that I won.”

GIVING SOMETHING BACK

The tournament offered a chance for poker players to give something back to a worthy cause — Missing People is the only UK charity dedicated to reconnecting missing people and their loved ones — and Amiti said it was precisely this element that convinced her to play.

“I wouldn’t otherwise buy-in for that amount,” she said. “I have a family member who is always critical, saying, ‘You spend all this time playing online, you should be doing something good for society.’ So it’s nice to get to play a game that you love and still be doing something for a good cause.”

Sonia Amiti in action in the Missing People Charity Event

It started three years ago

Amiti only took up poker around three years ago, and tends to play online tournaments with a buy-in of around $10. She quickly became interested in online satellites to live events and won three packages to PokerStars €1K tournaments in her first year.

“I like to escalate up,” she said.

She found a vibrant and supportive community among other low-stakes players, all of whom attempt to qualify via PokerStars to bigger events, and is now a self-confessed poker obsessive. She said she has always been a fan of strategy games like chess, and also used to play a lot of sports when she was younger.

“But with poker, you’re never too old,” Amiti said.

The flexibility to play

Amiti has a degree in architecture and runs a design-build business in Toronto. It allows her the flexibility to play poker when she wants, and to travel overseas frequently, including to Croatia where she was born and spent the early years of her life.

Sonia Amiti — “It’s nice to get to play a game that you love and still be doing something for a good cause”

She is gradually finding a home at the live poker tables, and said that the atmosphere at the charity event was welcoming and friendly, even though plenty of top pros also joined the field.

“Every time, I was the only girl at my table, but I felt very comfortable,” she said. “Everyone was very respectful and friendly. There was a nice social vibe.” Amiti played alongside the Team PokerStars ambassadors Ben “Spraggy” Spragg and Nick Walsh, among others, but neither was able to halt her run to the title.

Inexperience as an advantage

“The way I was handling the chips, and my image, they could see that I was inexperienced,” Amiti said of her opponents. “And I’m a girl, so maybe they thought I was a little bit passive.

“They tried to bully me a little bit, be quite aggressive. So I would be a little bit sneaky with my good hands, and then just bluff-catch. They would just keep betting and I was calling and I had the nuts.”

The tournament ran into the early hours, ending in a heads-up ICM chop between Amiti and the UK player Paul Dawkins. Dawkins took marginally more money, representing his chip stack at the time, but Amiti overhauled the chip deficit when they played it out heads-up, and snared the trophy.

She also won an exclusive PokerStars necklace, which she couldn’t wait to put on. “I think I’m going to cry,” she said.

The first of many for Sonia Amiti?

Amiti intends this to be just the start of her poker career.

Just the start

“Definitely I’ll play more poker,” she said. “I didn’t qualify online this time, and I wasn’t going to come. But I bought in [to the Charity Event] because it was a good cause and the fact that I won it, not just min-cashed, shows it’s possible.

“It’s proof that anybody can do it. I thought, ‘Oh, there’s going to be all these pros there. I don’t have experience, I don’t study poker.’ But if you run well, you can do it.”

See you in Prague, Sonia!

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