For the last 10 years, I spent the better half of summer in Las Vegas, trudging back and forth to the Rio every day; full of optimism in the mornings, and misery in the evenings.

This summer, I decided to adopt what I call the ‘Steve O’Dwyer Super System’. As you may know, Steve O’Dwyer is currently the #1 ranked player tournament player in the world (according to GPI), but few remember the origins of his remarkable ascent. Steve also used to spend his summers in Vegas, but eventually he decided to skip the WSOP preliminary events in favour of attending tournaments in Europe,and because so many of the top professionals make the journey to Vegas, the events in Europe become softer than usual.

Over the last few summers, Steve cleaned up during the summer, and parlayed his winnings into major scores around the world. So when I heard there was a World Poker Tour National event in Cannes during the first week of June, I knew it was a perfect fit for Steve’s system.

I arrived early on Day 1A of the event, gave the ‘Shuffle up and deal’ announcement, and found my seat at a table full of unfamiliar faces. Nothing remarkable happened that day, but I won more pots than I lost, and dragged a couple large ones at the end of the night. I had nearly quadrupled my starting stack of 30,000, and earned a day off to enjoy Cannes during Day 1B. I was feeling focused at the start of Day 2, and won some hands leading up to a table change. I landed at a table full of chips; many of them belonging to a boisterous French-Algerian player named Omar. Although he didn’t speak much English, Omar could tell we both liked having fun at the table, and addressed me as “my friend” any time we contested a pot.

Omar took some of my chips before the table broke, but we were moved to the same table, and the talking continued as Omar used his massive stack to terrorise our opponents. I’ve been playing live tournaments for 11 years now, and I’ve never seen someone abuse a bubble the way Omar did that day. He was raising so many hands (I’ll guess 80%) that I happily shoved A8 suited over his under-the-gun raise just two players from the money. To my horror, a player behind me cold-called the raise, but then Omar came over the top, which caused the third player to fold. Omar tabled AKo, and had given me a chance to triple up if I could beat one hand, which I did by drilling an eight on the flop. “Just for you my friend” Omar said at the appearance of the eight.

After that hand, I had above-average entering the money, and sat back while the short-stacked players flung their chips in the middle. Just as the action started to slow down, I found a rush of cards that brought my stack over 900,000, which put me among the chip leaders in the tournament. Yet again our table broke, and yet again Omar and I were sent to the same place. He’d eased off since the bubble broke, but he was still the most active player on the table, and had the chips to do as he pleased.

Tune in next week to see how Tony’s European adventure finished.

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