The bursting of the bubble guaranteed consecutive cashes for Tamer Kamel at EPT London. Last year Kamel had something of a breakthrough in his home town event, his seventh place marking a career best, worth nearly £80,000. That propelled him to further cashes, both on the EPT and in Las Vegas, and the odd memorable encounter.
There’s something quite different about Kamel, an aspect that which keeps him grounded and the poker fun, even when faced with the line-up he started with today — including David Yan, Gaelle Bauman and Mathew Frankland. Kamel puts it down to life outside of poker, one that ensures that whatever happens here is a bonus.
“I’ve been playing for maybe three or four years,” said Kamel at the first break. “I didn’t know how to play until I started in a friendly game. Then I was always playing in my spare time. I have a job, so I’m not an actual pro but I play a lot of these big events.”
Kamel’s “amateur” status works in his favor. When he’s not playing he runs his family’s Italian Pizzeria on Goodge Street, in London. As director he oversees its day-to-day running, using poker to satisfy his competitive streak, after an injury forced him to quit football.
“I think it takes a lot of pressure off,” said Kamel of his world outside the game. “I’m able to relax a little bit when I’m playing a tournament – it’s not the be all and end all -I have an income.
“I’m getting married in December. I proposed a year ago so that started off the year that I’m having. I think that’s a good thing as well, I’ve felt a lot more secure in myself. I’ve been playing better. Also what I like is that I’m quite low key, there have been no blogs about me and I’m quite happy about that.”
The blog has happily put an end to that idea, but Kamel seems a more accomplished player to the one he was a season ago, pleased with his development which he credits, in part, to playing the best players in the world.
“One of my favourite things was playing Phil Ivey in Monte Carlo,” he said. “It was amazing to see everyone awestruck at the table but to me I couldn’t believe I got the chance to play him. We didn’t play many hands but I got talking to him.”
Kamel is right about that table. As we wrote at the time, there was an obvious sense of wonder. But of all everyone at that table Kamel, sitting directly on Ivey’s right, seemed unfazed, relishing the opportunity rather than fearing it.
“I’ve always been like that,” said Kamel. “I’m very confident in myself. [I just thought] he’s a human being, I’m a human being, he’s got a brain and I’ve got a brain. Let’s tango and see what happens.”
Kamel capitalized on that attitude, going deep in a $1K event at the World Series, a result that as far as he was concerned make it a successful summer – after all, it’s all about the performance, not simply the result.
“I’m in it because I love competing,” said Kamel. “I enjoy the game so much but I want to be the best. To me that’s more fun than the getting a score here and there and surviving, because I’ve got my own income. But obviously it would be good!”
Alas, that next big score will not come in London, Kamel being among the first to bust after the bubble. But you sense it can’t be far off.
Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter.