EPT Prague: Wish fulfillment

December 02, 2009

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If you rubbed a lamp and a genie granted you the wish of seeing all the cards of one poker player throughout an entire tournament, who would you choose? Few would argue against a nod for ElkY, or for Dario Minieri; they play pretty much any two cards in any position, and the show would be a cross between a video nasty and a surrealist masterpiece. You’d learn a lot.

But in a sense it would also be a waste of a unique opportunity. Those two play so many pots all the way to the river that we often end up seeing their cards anyway. (“Oh, I never put him on five-seven,” is the kind of thing that usually rings out on such occasions.)

I’ve always been fascinated by someone like Barry Greenstein. He has such a startling tournament record, and such respect among his peers, that he is clearly massively capable – and yet I simply don’t know how he does it. If he’s called, he usually has the goods and he is very rarely caught out on a stone-cold bluff. But he cannot be waiting for aces all day long, so what is he doing? I think I’d tell that genie to give me Greenstein; I’d really like to learn the secret.

We don’t see much of Greenstein on the EPT, but we do have Alex Kravchenko, who could well be the Russian equivalent. By the time Kravchenko made the final table of the 2007 World Series Main Event he was already a bracelet winner from earlier in the series, and those two results were among seven WSOP cashes that year. He clearly does something very right indeed, but similarly we never ever seem to see his cards.

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Alex Kravchenko

Much like Greenstein, Kravchenko is anything but a visibly active player. His silent ice-cold stare through aviator shades is the eastern European version of Greenstein’s silent Californian slump. But the path from Kravchenko’s table to the cash cage is well worn: he has five EPT in-the-money finishes and another eight at the World Series since then. He must be getting involved but I never see it. The Kravchenko formula might also be worth a wish.

This afternoon in Prague, the draw has pitched Kravchenko on the same table as the aforementioned dervish Minieri.

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Kravchenko, left, and Minieri

As is typical, Minieri is mixing it up. (I actually did a double take during an early orbit when Minieri folded four hands in a row pre-flop. He raised the fifth. Phew.) And as is typical, Kravchenko is unflustered. The clash of styles will be worth watching – and maybe another wish will be fulfilled.

I. Will. See. Alex. Kravchenko’s. Cards.

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