When Simon Gilles looked again at his computer screen, he thought he must be going mad. But it was true. His online avatar “simon8818” was the last player remaining in a Mega Path Step 4 tournament on PokerStars, the winner of which was guaranteed a Platinum Pass to the PSPC in Barcelona.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Gilles said. “I jumped through the living room, when the tournament was over and it was really a bit surreal when all the players were gone and only I was left.”
Though it was too late to call friends that night, he spent a restless few hours in his bed trying to come to terms with his achievement. “I couldn’t sleep at all – I think I just couldn’t believe it myself,” he said. “Next day it still hasn’t sunk in yet, but once I called my friends I started realising it and it was just great to see how happy they were for me – all of them congratulated me.”
Gilles is 31 and has worked as a marketing manager in a supermarket in Sieburg, Germany, for the past six years — and doesn’t see any reason he would think about giving it up. “I am really proud of my job, I have been doing this for years and I love it,” he said. “Working with customers and my staff. I don’t ever want to do something different.”
However, he has also not yet tasted the real thrill of playing high-stakes tournament poker, and details a smouldering interest in the game that began at the play money tables in around 2007 and gradually moved to the real money games. He now says he has watched more than 2,000 hours of poker training videos (“I don’t think there are any out there that I haven’t watched.”) and has played a few more live sit & go tournaments. Even so, he remembers his one trip to King’s Casino in the Czech Republic (about a five-hour drive from his home) more for the heavy metal concert that was on than for the poker. ” I am planning to head back in March,” he said.
That will be about five months before he sits down in Barcelona for what will certainly be the biggest event of his career so far. And even if that doesn’t turn him into a multi-millionaire, Gilles won’t mind. “My biggest win is having my family and friends,” he said. “It was especially great to see my friends being so enthusiastic about me winning and saying they will come along.”