PokerPlayer winner has a ball in Bulgaria

Loyal reader and PokerPlayer freeroll winner Chris Barnard shows the Bulgarians how it’s done at the Israeli Poker Championships

We love it when our readers do well in live tournaments, and even more so when they’ve won their seat through one of our exclusive freerolls or promotions. Our latest success story is Chris Barnard, who won our recent Intertops promotion which awarded him a $2,500 package to spend on a tournament of his choice. He could have picked a UKIPT. He could have played in an EPT side event. But he chose to play something a little more obscure – the high roller event at the recent Israeli Poker Championships in Bulgaria. It turned out to be a very profitable choice as he ended up taking the runners-up spot. We spoke to him shortly after.   

PokerPlayer: Congratulations Chris – did you have a good time in Bulgaria?

Chris Barnard: Firstly, I would like to say a huge thank you to PokerPlayer for a dream week in Sunny Beach. I have bought the mag since day one and was lucky enough to win the Intertops competition for a $2,500 poker package. Searching the web I found the Israeli Poker Championships were on in Sunny Beach and decided that would be a good place to try my luck.

PP: Was Bulgaria a good location for a poker holiday?

CB: I was booked into an all inclusive four-star hotel on the beach front, just two minutes walk from the casino. As the weather did not match the name of the resort, I spent the non poker days enjoying the free bar and restaurant, not such a bad thing!

PP: Good plan. So tell us more about the poker.

CB: In the Casino there were 20 tables sectioned off for poker and at peak times people were queuing for seats, with the tournaments and cash games in full flow. I played the €700 High Roller which was a two day event but it only attracted 20 players – pretty poor when you consider the  €400 Main Event got 167 players.

Day 1 was pretty quiet for me, and I spent most of the time looking at my starting stack of 30,000 chips. Apart from getting Aces early on I was totally card dead all day and had to make the most of stealing the blinds when I could to preserve my stack. Day 2 started with just seven players left, two monster stacks and the rest of us short. Two players went out early on the same hand and I was left with 45,000 of the 600,000 in play in fifth place. Then, with a nice run of cards and a couple of huge bluffs, we were down to three players and I was chip leader with over 400,000.

My luck was about to change as I got it all-in on the flop with top-pair top-kicker against both players in two consecutive hands, only to get rivered both times and double them up. The other two players collided and we were heads-up. After my huge bluff was called by fourth pair my dream was over and I had to settle for second and €3,780. I was gutted and couldn’t sleep that night, even after hitting the free bar back at the hotel!

PP: How would you sum up the experience?

CB: I had a brilliant week in a beautiful hotel and very good casino, with the added bonus of playing poker. What more could anyone want!!!

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