In 2022, Andy Gray was given the best 70th birthday present he could have hoped for by his wife Carolyn: a trip to Las Vegas and entry to the World Series of Poker Main Event. The icing on the birthday cake? Gray ran deep, going out late on Day 5 for a $65k cash.
But as we’ve come to learn at the European Poker Tour (EPT) stop in Cyprus, that present could very well have been exchanged in the opposite direction with equal jubilation.
“Both of us play regularly,” Gray tells me. The couple are now retired after Andy sold his underwater surveying business a few years ago, giving them time to pursue their interests. “We have both played a number of EPTs and the PCA. In fact, just about all the events Carolyn and I have played at we’ve won packages to!”
Having met Andy and Jenny Steele – the Power Path power couple using poker’s newest qualifying route to travel the world, one poker festival at a time – in Barcelona, it now seems we’ve found another couple using PokerStars satellites as a vacation gateway.
MEET THE GRAYS
The Grays from Aberdeen have enjoyed a fantastic week in Cyprus courtesy of Andy’s latest package win, all from just a $55 satellite.
He was sat on Seat 1 of Table 1 in the $5,300 Main Event and got off to a flying start, more than doubling his stack. Then he got moved tables. “Lost it all!” he says, smiling. “Never saw another good card.”
The big one might not have gone Gray’s way but that hasn’t dampened his spirits. When we talk he’s taking a shot in a $330 side event. Carolyn was too, but we missed her by a matter of minutes. “She just got knocked out,” he tells us.
This is the Grays’ second visit to North Cyprus and the magnificent Merit resorts this year. Back in March they flew in for the Merit Poker Carmen series, where Andy Gray not only finished third in the $1,100 Senior’s Event for $9,070 but went on to cash the $3,300 Main Event too–a 22nd-place finish for $15,195.
But it’s Carolyn who has the best EPT record out of the pair. Back in 2010, both of them won packages to EPT Vilamoura on PokerStars and Carolyn made it all the way to the final three tables, finishing 24th for €11,174.
Andy remembers that trip well. “We couldn’t swap the other package so my daughter and her partner came along,” he says. “They don’t play, they just came for the holiday.”
And what do they think of mum and dad jet-setting around the world for poker?
“Oh, they love it,” he says.
A LIFELONG LOVE
When PokerStars announced the European Poker Tour (EPT) would be making its maiden visit to Cyprus, trying to win a package became a no-brainer for the satellite extraordinaires.
“The hotel is really good,” says Andy Gray. “I would certainly recommend people come here to play and hope the EPT comes back here.”
Neither Andy nor Carolyn play much online poker outside of satellites to live events. Instead, they both scratch their poker itch at their local casino’s poker room. “It’s just £30 buy-ins, that kind of thing,” he says.
They go once or twice a month, and thanks to their collective qualifying prowess, that’s just about all they have time for.
“We’ve both been playing cards all our lives,” Andy tells me. “My folks taught me how to play bridge when I was five. We started playing in Vegas when seven-card stud was the most popular game–you’d only see maybe one hold’em table. Then, within a few years, it was one seven-card stud table and everything else was hold’em.”
Both had success online early on and in 2005, during the height of the poker boom, Andy won a package to the WSOP Main Event for just $4.
Almost 20 years later, they’re still crushing the satellite game, and long may it continue.