Jack Salter interview: the EPT Grand Final, the marathon final table and the deal

As you’d expect, the EPT Live stream gets a lot of attention in these parts. Last week the PokerPlayer team sat back, put their feet up and cracked open a few beers (surely you knew that’s what happens) to watch what was fast becoming the Jack Salter show.

The young pro from London has burst onto the scene in the past year, gathering some impressive results. A third place in last year’s UKIPT London main event (£59,125) was followed by a win in the Aussie Millions A$5k six-max event (A$114k). In late March, Salter collected his first cash in an EPT main event, finishing 43rd in Vienna and it seems to have propelled him onto a career-defining result.

Salter collected a huge €765k for his second place in the EPT Grand Final. Nick Pryce caught up with him to talk about that deep run, how he managed to keep going through marathon 17-hour final table and to clear up those hotly debated deal discussions…

Pokerplayer: Hi Jack, congratulations on a great run at the EPT Grand Final! What have you been up to since? Any celebrations?

Jack Salter: Thanks guys! The only celebration was a big meal with all the extended family in London. The tournament finished at 7am so we went straight to breakfast and I didn’t sleep until a few hours later. Most people had left Monte Carlo by then and it took me a few days of sleeping to recover.

After that I went to play UKIPT Nottingham and I’m now in an apartment with my brother and Tom Hall in Amsterdam grinding Scoop. I’m not really a nightclub type of guy, but I will be sure to buy some drinks for all my friends in London when I finally see them.

Did you expect to do so well in Monte Carlo last week?

Honestly I had a great feeling from the start, but then I do before every EPT and I bricked the first 10 or so!

Massive thanks to everyone who supported me. I had big support from all my family as always and I received messages from friends I had not heard from for years. Thanks to all the people I have never even met who sent me good luck messages on twitter, the heroes on the live rail and the maniacs who somehow made it through the whole night online.

You cashed in the previous EPT in Vienna, did that give you the confidence to go even further this time?

Yeah, getting a cash under my belt in Vienna made me feel even more confident. I’ve been working on having a positive approach to things for a while now as I used to be the opposite. I recommend everyone to do the same, it has been great for me in life, not just in poker.

I got short several times but always kept my head up. A bad beat doesn’t effect me for more than two minutes. 

You received plenty of attention on the live stream for a number of things. We know what the triangle sign means, but what made you start doing it?

It’s just something that is totally standard in Macau. If you make that sign the dealer snap throws the all-in triangle into the middle of the table. I did it once or twice for fun on day three and then felt I needed to be balanced and do it for every all-in on that table!

At that time of the tournament people were feeling less pressure and seemed to enjoy it. I’m willing to do most things to get a table talkative in between hands. If I’m bored enough I don’t think I can play my best game for the entire day.

There has also been a lot of debate about the deal discussions. Can you tell us a bit about it from your end?

I first met Antonio [Buonanno] on the dinner break by chance and I asked him if he would consider a deal at any point. He said “not now, only heads up with you.” When we got three-handed I asked the other two if they wanted to look at the numbers – chip chop not ICM chop, as I had a big lead. Antonio asked for €30k each from me and the other guy, but I said no and offered him the fair numbers. He declined so we played on.

When we got heads up I offered him a fair chop and we would play for €50k, which was perfect for me as I would get around €1.06m and he would get €949,200. He first asked for €1m, which was funny, but I’m pretty sure he was serious and he even claimed we had the same stacks! After this he said he wanted €950k, not €949,200!

To be honest, if it came down to it I would probably have just given him €800, which I guess he knew. But I also assumed he would just take 949 and had the same thinking as I did. I guess he was also greedy and thought he might as well freeroll.

There seemed a lot more to it, you were consulting others during the deal…

I consulted Ami Barer, who had bought 50% of me in the tournament. He said I should play but I told him I didn’t want to play for so much money – even though I had just won a lot. He said Martin Finger would buy how much I wanted to sell at that point, but I couldn’t work out the numbers in the state I was in at the time. Eventually I decided 75% of the action I had of myself seemed like a good number to sell.

There was extra comotion because when I told Antonio there would be no deal, the floor asked me to be re-seated. I wanted five minutes break – which Antonio agreed to – to shake hands with Martin and confirm everything before I played. Firstly there was A LOT of money on the line and secondly, I did not want to be thinking about possible problems with the deal while playing.

I’m sure I could have handled it better but I don’t think I did anything out of line and I got the job done under a lot of pressure!

How did Antonio react to all of this?

At the time I don’t think he liked that my friend was getting involved, but given Antonio won I am sure there are no hard feelings about it.

Do you think you had a big edge on Antonio headsup?

I thought I was the favourite but I wasn’t expecting to win by any means as Antonio has a lot of tricks up his sleeve. I have played a lot more heads-up hands (I assume) than Antonio due to online poker, but he’s a great guy and a worthy champion.

He’s 20 years older than me and there is zero chance I will be able to compete at his level in 20 years, so hats off to him!

Have you ever had a more gruelling day than that final table? Or did adrenaline keep you going?

That was by far the most tiring day I’ve ever experienced, but it was also by far the biggest moment of my career and literally what I have been dreaming of. Adrenaline kept me going 95% of the time while playing. When I got up from the table for breaks I felt totally disorientated and wasn’t even walking straight at one point! But as soon as I sat down I was back in the zone.

Luckily I had some time with a few other poker players on each break to keep me in a zen state! I also had a two minute pep talk each time from Simon Deadman, a good friend of mine and a top live player. When I got back to the casino he told me to calm down and not punt it off. As well as being a crusher, he’s also a notorious second place finisher, so I probably should have given him the axe when it got to heads up!

What do you expect the EPT Grand Final result to do for your career? How will it change things?

It won’t change much in my life in the short-term, but I hope it will give me a more comfortable future. I want to buy a house in London but I’m not quite there yet! I will continue to play the same schedule online, playing nearly all of the highest games on PokerStars, as well as games as low as $11 turbos.

I am a value hunter regardless of stakes and I have my eye on some of the High Rollers in the future. Hopefully I can get some swaps with good players now I have a result under my belt and hopefully I don’t mess up too bad when the EPT episodes come out, as it’s a chance for any unknown player or online player to showcase their game in front of a decent sized audience.

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