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First published December 2022.

Parker Talbot — or “tonkaaaa” to his many fans — is making another deep run here in the EPT Prague Main Event, sitting among the final 15 at time of writing, from a mammoth field of 1,267 entries.

It’s all the more impressive because he’s not feeling great.

“It’s rough on these trips when you’re in a different time zone, and you end up sleeping bad,” Talbot said. “I got the sniffles here, a cough going on.”

He was expanding on a tweet he wrote yesterday, where he stated: “Last days been dead, lack of sleep+no glasses+Prague ebola‚Ķ was on feature for last level, tuned in after day was done and I was looking quite haggard tbh‚Ķ My assumptions were confirmed when my mother text me. ‘Go buy some concealer for your eyes. Those bags are wild’.”

Today, Talbot quickly demurred. “I feel like I look rougher than I am, without my glasses, but my stamina is pretty good. I’m super tired, but I can keep going.”

That’s good news for Talbot, and for his supporters, because this tournament still has a long way to run.

But for first-timers coming to events such as the EPT, it can seem daunting looking at a tournament scheduled to last six days, particularly if you’re more accustomed to playing short tournaments from the comfort of your own home.

So what actually can you do to prepare for a marathon EPT Main Event?

It just so happened that Conor Beresford was also nearby when I put this question to Talbot, and the two of them took a while before trying to come up with an answer.

Regrettably, they really couldn’t.

“You just wake up, eat your breakfast,” Talbot said. “I drink coffee.”

Talbot plus coffee equals deep run

Talbot plus coffee equals deep run

Beresford chimed in: “Yeah, make sure you get some nibbles.”

Talbot added: “I even did some stretching this morning. I did 10 minutes of stretching this morning.”

But he stopped short of offering a complete Tonkaaaa fitness guide.

But what about Beresford?

Better known as “1_conor_b_1”, Beresford is one of online poker’s most ferocious talents, who has spent several weeks as the No 1 ranked player in the world, and who has countless massive online tournament scores.

He is very accustomed to playing 16-hour sessions online (“That means you’ve got a deep run at the end of the night.”) and said he thinks he could probably play live poker for 36 hours straight.

However, he too could not come up with a surefire strategy for recreational players to adopt when coming to live events for the first time.

“It’s tough to suggest what you should do,” Beresford said. “Just do what you feel comfortable with. You have to play it by ear. Just play your best on every table.”

One of the main aims at PokerStars Blog is to come up with tips for new players who are perhaps daunted by the prospect of playing live. But when you find two players of Talbot and Beresford’s calibre unsure of how to answer a question, you can see that sometimes there simply isn’t a clear answer.

A lot of coffee is drunk by some poker players in long tournaments, but others steer clear of it. Some players like to eat at the table and then use their dinner break to nap, but others think that’s counterproductive.

Conor Beresford at a PokerStars event

Conor Beresford is accustomed to marathon sessions

It’s obviously ideal to get some good sleep and approach every day fresh, with a spring in your step. But adrenaline really pumps during a major poker event and it can be hard to get your head down. Sometimes you’ll find yourself exhausted, but somehow digging deep to carry on.

Perhaps the biggest incentive to make poker players find energy to continue the battle is to look at the payout structure. As everyone knows, it’s very top heavy, so it’s worth the effort to try and make it as far as possible.

Despite everything, Talbot is still clinging on, even with a short stack. He might not be able to tell you how he does it, but he sure knows that it’s worth the effort.

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