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My curiosity as to the progress of Alex Fitzgerald had inadvertently turned me into a stalker. I’d been hanging around his table for far too long, moving position every once in a while to keep the blood flowing in my feet and so not to draw attention to myself, forgetting each time to avoid stepping on a metal plate hidden under the carpeting that rattled like a fire alarm, to watch one a 21-year-old online pro work the live game on a table mixed up of young locals and older guys wanting to teach them a thing or two.

Fitzgerald had been sat at table five for some time, one of those tables that escape wider attention for a lack of other recognisable faces and any particularly large stack. But if any of this bothered him it was impossible to tell as he played on in level 11 with 47,000, (800-1600-100) sitting back in his chair, a white shirt open at the neck and jeans frayed at the heel, folding hands as others around him make moves and bust out.

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Alex Fitzgerald

Dmitry Vitkind tried but showed little of the same poise in the face of adversity. He shoved in, immediately striking a pose that was intended to provide a smoke and mirror effect for Bernard Boutboul who had the option to call. He did, showed jacks to Vitkind’s tens and that was that. Pose and player gone.

Fitzgerald played a few hands, each it seemed with as little risk as possible. One took him back up a few grand against Boutboul then a quick all-in behind a weak raise to pick up that, the blinds and the antes. But that was a read on the player, not the first signs of panic.

“It’s not super urgent, but the guy had 15 big blinds and I could tell he didn’t have much, and I can’t raise,” said Fitzgerald at the break, eyeing the new blinds. “I have 25 big blinds so it’s a little more do or die now.”

The day had started better from the former Seattle native, who came out the blocks just how he’d intended.”I was up to 130k in the first hour, then down to 30k,” he said, “because that’s the kind of player I am.”

The player he is is a good one. Such set backs are all part of the job for a poker prospector, ready to get muddy taking a few chances early on to hit gold later. Known as “Assassinator” online (the Portuguese for Assassin), Fitzgerald has paid his way across Europe, to tournament as far apart as Manila and Rio de Janeiro during his career as a poker pro; living in Malta. He’s been there for a year now though he’s now casting his eyes east, the Far East, to Korea and Japan for the carefree lifestyle most 21-year-olds can only dream of. Yes, Fitzgerald is only 21.

But despite this degree of freedom Fitzgerald’s approach seems more pragmatic than most poker addicts, as his account of the World Series showed.

“To be honest I didn’t cash in any events but I won a lot online. So I had a successful summer, but I wish I’d stayed at home on the beach!” he said.

Now his attention returns to Europe and the quest for similar success to that in EPT San Remo, where he finished 7th in EPT San Remo last season, a little earlier than he’d planned. “I keep getting rid of chips before the final tables.”

Even if that is a problem, it may well be put right in season six. Especially if the stalkers stop hanging around while he plays.

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