“It all feels slightly surreal,” Patrick Winterbottom tells PokerStars Blog, after a whirlwind couple of minutes consisting of photoshoots and non-stop handshakes. “Nothing like this has ever happened to me before.”
That sentiment isn’t surprising. It’s certainly not every day that you play a live-streamed, winner-takes-all Sit & Go with €26,466 up top and win. But that’s exactly what Winterbottom did here at Lex Live 2 in London.
He was in town for the Streamer Showdown finale, which saw six online qualifiers battle it out on the live felt for a shot at a Platinum Pass to the PokerStars Players Championship 2020, taking place next August.
“Had I not won this, I was fully intending to keep going after a Platinum Pass this year. I guess I don’t have to now,” Winterbottom says with a smile.
Winterbottom is a maths teacher from Maidenhead in Berkshire, who has been playing poker recreationally for some 20 years. A couple of weeks ago he bet on Ben “Spraggy” Spragg to defeat his fellow PokerStars Ambassadors in the Streamer Showdown and that turned out to be a good decision. Spraggy obliged (the man just keeps on winning) and with that, Winterbottom secured his seat in an online freeroll which would award six trips to London.
“The bizarre thing is, I’d forgotten about it,” Winterbottom admits. “I sat down one Saturday afternoon, loaded up PokerStars, and saw the tournament was already running and had been for 25 minutes, but every single player at my table was sitting out. Nobody was there. So basically within ten minutes I was able to steal all their blinds and have a nice stack. I was so lucky that, like me, everyone else had forgotten to play it, otherwise I wouldn’t be here today.”
He’d go on to finish in the top six, alongside Asif Warris (UK), Veselin Marinov (Belgium), Nico Schönfelder (Germany), Geoffrey Babington (UK), and Robert Bencsik (Germany). That gave him a couple of weeks to prepare before heading to London today.
“I hadn’t had the chance to play live since I qualified for the Streamer Showdown, but I have played a few six-max Sit & Gos online, just to get into the swing of things,” Winterbottom tells us. “I also got some coaching from Gareth James a while ago, and he set up a little one-table tournament with friends over the weekend which we played, and he gave me some amazing feedback. I’m really grateful to him for that. I think it really helped me. Today I found myself bluffing in spots I never would have bluffed before, based on his advice.”
There was one particular hand in which Winterbottom felt the crunch of a winner-takes-all format. “I opened pocket sixes on the button and the small blind shoved,” he says. “He shoved so quickly that I didn’t put him on an overpair, I felt he just had two high cards. At that point, one player already had 300,000 and I thought, this is winner takes all, I have to gamble. So I called, and the sixes held.”
It wasn’t all smooth-sailing though. Winterbottom was one card away from victory, then this happened:
“Overall I thought I played well. I picked my spots. I did some things I’d never done before. It all worked pretty well.”
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Although his teaching career doesn’t allow him as much time to play poker as he’d like (“I can’t actually remember the last time I played a live tournament, to be honest”), Winterbottom still follows the game, and is a big fan of James Hartigan and Joe Stapleton. In fact, he was even a superfan on the Poker in the Ears podcast just three weeks ago.
He plans on playing a whole lot more now that he’s going to be battling against the game’s heavyweights in the €22,500 buy-in PSPC.
“I’ve obviously never played a tournament with that sort of buy-in, so I need to spend the next nine months studying, getting more coaching, and getting out and playing some more live tournaments so I can practice,” he says. “I need to take stock of how I’m going to prepare in the best way possible.”
Winterbottom has already received some good feedback on his game though, from none other than the man behind this entire festival.
“I’ll definitely watch the stream back and listen to the commentary,” he tells us. “Lex Veldhuis told me he thought I was playing really well when he was doing commentary, so that’s a really nice thing to hear from someone as good as him. I think I can learn a lot from them analysing my play.”
One person who Winterbottom is certain wasn’t watching is his wife, who he’ll be bringing with him for support to Barcelona next year. “I’ve sent her a Whatsapp telling her I won, but she hasn’t seen it yet. She’s probably off doing something,” he laughs. “I’ll invite her down to celebrate though.”
We’re sure she’ll welcome the news of a free holiday to Barcelona, a city Winterbottom hasn’t visited before. Not that he plans of sight-seeing.
“Hopefully, I won’t get to see much of the city as I’ll be busy playing poker.”