Thursday, 23rd May 2024 15:14
Home / Poker / EPT qualifier Anthony Desai on playing the tour that lit his poker fire

You wouldn’t have known it from watching Anthony Desai play.

The 27-year-old security worker from North London attacked the European Poker Tour Main Event in Prague just as he would any other tournament.

But behind his poker face, it wasn’t lost on him just how much playing at the EPT means to him.

“I grew up watching it so just to be here, it’s amazing,” Desai told us, scanning the room as hundreds of his competitors exited for a Main Event break, many of whom probably share his sentiment.

Desai won a full package to EPT Prague online using some sound advice he picked up many years ago from a satellite strategy book.

“It said the strategy works best when there are 10 or more seats guaranteed,” he says. “So I avoid the one or two-seat guaranteed satellites as they’re more winner-takes-all. I saw one that had 12 seats guaranteed and I thought, this is the time to go for it. Let’s go.”

The event had a €520 buy-in. “Won it on the first attempt!” says Desai. “I did get a bit of luck though. I shoved ace-king against a raise and he had pocket kings but I hit an ace on the flop. That was nice, and after that, I cruised to the ticket.”

Unfortunately, Desai’s Main Event run came to an end midway through Day 2. But we’re sure this second shot at EPT success won’t be his last.

“IT’S WHAT GOT ME INTO LIVE POKER”

Anthony Desai had his first EPT experience on his doorstep. It was EPT London 2022 and he qualified in a live satellite, then ran deep to finish 48th for £12,900.

“I busted with pocket aces versus pocket kings,” he says. “David Docherty had the king of spades and the board came runner-runner spades to give him the flush. It was a huge pot and gave David the chip lead, but that’s enough of that bad beat story!”

Coincidentally, Docherty was also at Desai’s table here on Day 2.

Docherty from Desai’s POV

Some players would wince when drawn to the same table as players of Docherty’s calibre. But getting to play with big names and established pros is all part of the EPT experience Desai longs for.

“The EPT is just amazing,” he says. “The way they do it, the production on the live streams when you’re watching at home. Watching the EPT is what got me into live poker. Feeling the cards, the table talk. I love it.”

DREAMING OF NEXT TIME

Anthony Desai learned a rudimentary version of the game from his father at a young age, but didn’t truly fall in love with poker until the lockdowns of 2020. 

At the time, he was teaching English in Seoul, South Korea, and when the schools and gyms closed he had extra time on his hands. “I was still getting paid for being a teacher but I wasn’t working, and I couldn’t train martial arts at the gym,” he says.

“So I was like, you know what? Let’s get the laptop out and fire up PokerStars.”

Desai’s run ended on Day 2, but you can bet this won’t be his last trip to the EPT

Desai began to dabble in some online tournaments, almost always while watching episodes of the EPT. “I love watching all the big names, and the commentary is great. I learned a lot.”

You can bet that Desai will be grinding the online satellites the next time the EPT rolls around. And hopefully, when he makes it to his third EPT stop, we’ll see him up on the feature table.

“I think it would be really cool,” he says. “It would be great to watch it back and hear the commentary on my play, find out what they thought about this or that. To be up there would be amazing.”

Qualifiers for the next European Poker Tour stop in Paris are running right now.

MORE FROM EPT PRAGUE

Study Poker with Pokerstars Learn, practice with the PokerStars app