It’s almost time for me to head off to London for the next stop on the European Poker Tour, but I wanted to take a look back at one of my favorite moments from the first stop in Barcelona.
RIDE ON THE RIVER
In celebration of the 10th season on the tour, PokerStars and the EPT got together with rapper and entertainer Nick Javas. Nick is a creative genius, and the finished product was spectacular. The rap video produced tells the story of the EPT leading up to the launch of the 10th season, and I was super excited to see that Nick mentioned me in it. Cramming nine seasons of events from the top players and top tour in the game is no easy task, but Nick was able to work it all into a three-and-a-half minute video that turned out amazing.
Here’s the video, and I recommend you watch it before reading on:
After seeing the video and playing the song over and over, I wanted to reach out to Nick. First and foremost, I wanted to congratulate him on it being so well done. Second, I wanted to get an official copy of the lyrics for a future idea. That idea was to take the lyrics, break them down, and discuss the meaning behind them, which is what I’d like to do here. Due to the length of this blog, I’m going to break it up into two parts. Here is Part 1, and I’ll include the lyrics of the song in italics, then put my thoughts and explanations below each part.
As I set forth on this journey, may the gods of this game continue to bless me with the gifts of good fortune. I ask that you grant me the power to hold my ego at bay in the face of adversity, the strength to choose patience over greed, and a trustworthy gut that knows when to lay down and when to fight. Once that decision is made, I leave my fate in your hands. I have faith that you’ll be there to guide me along this ride on the river.
Nick prefaces the rap with a short intro. In the intro, he outlines some very common characteristics that all successful poker players must exude — keeping your ego in check, being patient, and trusting your gut. It’s very hard for a player to reach his or her full potential without accomplishing all three of these things. Nick also mentions good fortune and the poker gods. Poker is a game which requires a high level of skill to play well, but there is still an element of luck involved. This is what he is referring to when he mentions “good fortune” and “I leave my fate in your hands.”
It is very important to point out that all of this stems back to confidence in your decision making as a poker player, though. In a game that deals so much with incomplete information, a player has to trust his or her ability to make the best decisions possible. Sometimes, even though you may make the right call or move all in at the right time, your opponent is still going to win the hand. It’s going to happen, and it’s something we’ve all experienced. It is very important to be able to keep the ship headed in the right direction and your mind clear because before you know it, you’re going to be dealt the next hand and be faced with more decisions.
Check Check… Raise Hell
Bet call those an-gels…Better know that range well
So we meet again, EPT Season 10
Barcelona, first stop… Back in the home of the first flop
The first verse is opens things up with some common poker terms like “check,” “raise,” “bet-call,” and “range” to get us into the flow. Nick also mentions that Season 10 of the EPT is kicking off where it all began back in Season 1, the beautiful city of Barcelona.
Barcelona is my favorite stop on the EPT. I love the city and have had some success there. It’s also been included on the tour each and every season since the EPT began in 2004, and I hope it continues this way for years and years to come.
When Stevic would get in the record book out of the gate, original champion
Not far behind him…star risin…currently king of the cash in
Still no title yet (not yet)…Never know, he might be next
In the second verse, Nick references Alexander Stevic, the first-ever EPT champion. Stevic won the inaugural EPT event in Barcelona for €80,000 after he defeated a field of 229 players in the €1,000 Main Event.
He also references my fellow Team PokerStars Pro Luca Pagano. Pagano holds the record for most EPT Main Event cashes. He has 20 of those and an astounding seven final tables. Interestingly enough, Pagano took third in the first EPT in Barcelona that Stevic won. While Pagano may not have an EPT Main Event title just yet, he clearly puts himself in the position to break through time and time again, and one could only guess that a title is coming in the future.
Antonius a day late by the time he got in
Started at the bottom, Finnish on the top in Baden
I’m thinkin Johnny Lodden’s ridin’ right there on the brink
Of his first EPT win, but what does Johnny think?
Patrik Antonius is highly regarded as one of the best all-around poker players in the game, and he is someone I’ve played with quite a bit. While large cash games are Antonius’ bread and butter, specifically online, his first major tournament victory came on the EPT when he won the Baden Main Event in 2005 for €288,180. Nick definitely did his homework with this verse, using a dual play on words by citing Antonius’ late arrival to the event and how his win didn’t come until Season 2 combined with a little bit of Drake lyricism before mentioning that Antonius was able to “Finnish” at the top — a play on words as Antonius is from Finland.
The second part of this verse mentions another fellow Team Pro, Johnny Lodden. Lodden’s name will forever be linked to the popular prop-betting game in the poker community, “Lodden Thinks” — a game invented a few years ago at the World Series of Poker Europe by Antonio Esfandiari and Phil Laak — and Nick does a great job of working that in creatively. Like the aforementioned Pagano, Lodden has had several close calls on the tour, but has yet to emerge victorious in one of the main events. At last season’s Grand Final in Monte Carlo, Lodden took third in the Main Event for €467,000 — an event that I placed seventh in for €137,000.
Ivey widely regarded as the greatest on the scene
Still no number 1, but number 2 in season 3
At chips end by Big Ben the big story was
Victory for Vic Coren at Victoria
Out of all the tournament accolades on Phil Ivey’s record (and there’s a lot of them), one thing he doesn’t have is an EPT title. In 2006 during Season 3, Ivey made the final table of EPT Barcelona, but finished runner-up to Bjorn-Erik Glenne for €371,000.
In the latter half of this verse, Nick takes us over to EPT London in 2006 where it was Vicky Coren, another member of Team PokerStars Pro, who took home the title and £500,000. Not only did Vicky claim “victory” in the event, but she did so at the Victoria Casino.
Season 4 we saw 2 new cities on the tour
Expanded that casino, PCA and San Remo
ElkY earned a new moniker, by the quick way that those chips came
Mr. PCA…leading the way…and heyyy…a new nickname
First time in Sanremo victory would go to Jay Mercy
First time on the live circuit, worthy of that first seed
Got it again in a year, way to begin a career
The only difference here, now the original high roller title holder, COME ON!
Now, we’re getting to the good stuff! But in all seriousness, I was super excited to hear a mention of my Sanremo Main Event win and how uniquely Nick was able to work in some of my accomplishments.
In the first of the two above verses, Nick mentions the growth of the EPT with expansion in Season 4. He mentions Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier as “Mr. PCA” due to his domination in The Bahamas. In 2008, ElkY won the PCA Main Event for $2,000,000, and then in 2009 he won the PCA $25,000 High Roller for $433,500. Two major titles in two years at the same event — an extremely tough event — is amazing, or “So sick!” as ElkY would say.
In the second verse above, Nick talks about my breakout win on the poker scene, which happened to be my second major live event ever. As mentioned in my biography, I had earned a seat to the Sanremo Main Event by qualifying on PokerStars, long before I became a Team Pro. I played my way to the final table before going on to win the event for €869,000. Just a handful of months later, I was able to earn my second EPT title by winning the EPT London £20,000 High Roller for £516,000 — the first high roller ever held on the EPT.
That takes us up until the first chorus of the song, and I’ll pick things back up in a couple of days in Part 2. Stay tuned!