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Interview with Alex Peck, 4th place finisher in PokerStars Festival Lille

By Jack Liew, Founder of Singapore Poker League (edited by Zef)

After a deep 4th place run at the recent PokerStars Festival Lille (PSF) in France good for SGD 78,446, Alex Peck sat down with Jack Liew, the founder of Singapore Poker League and Zef for a chat. In this interview, Alex gives us a look on his start in poker, experience in France, his best played hand and what’s next for him.

Jack: Thanks for having us and congratulations on your deep run! The first question on everyone’s mind is how did you end up in PokerStars Festival Lille, France? How many events did you play during the series?

Alex Peck: I played the PSF as I was on a 2-week vacation with my wife. Since the timing and venue were right in the middle of our vacation location, I decided to put in a few days so that I could take part in the PSF. As I had arrived on a Friday, I played two events, the PSF Main Event and the PSF Lille Cup. Fortunately, I was able to cash both events!

Jack: As an Asian player, how did you feel playing in a foreign country in Europe?

Alex Peck: It was my first overseas live event; the initial feelings were excitement to be able to play for a big prize pool. The event was well organised, and the tournament staff were very friendly and helpful, especially when the first language is French! Generally, the players were very friendly, despite the language barrier and I made some new friends.

Jack: Can you share your best played hand during the PSF Main Event?

Alex Peck: I’m not sure if this was the best played but it was a memorable one. It was late during Day 2 with about 20+ players remaining, and I was heads up against a German player, Robert Gorschewsky.

The blinds were 15k/30k and B.B. ante 30k. Villain was small blind (Stack: 2.5m,83bb) vs big blind (Stack: 650k,21bb). I had K2 of spades and checked in the big blind to his limp. Flop came A9Tss. He checks, and I bet 35k. We were talking a bit during the hand and I heard him said “ok you got it”. For some reason which I can’t recall due to our bantering, I opened my hand to show him what I had and at the same time he put in calling chips!

So, the dealer asked the TD to sort out the mess and the ruling was that that my hand was still “Live” but to be played face up. Everyone else on the table had a laugh on the situation as I was making a rookie mistake like this, deep into the event!

The turn was a 2, giving me bottom pair. Robert thought about it and bet 30k, one big blind. Not sure what psychological warfare he was inducing, I called as the price was too good and I had the nut flush draw.

River was a 4, which missed my flush. Robert decided to bet 100k. I tanked for a bit to go through all our recent history of hands played between us and at the table and decided to call his river with my face up hand. It was good, as he had J high!

On hindsight, that hand probably was crucial to my deep run in terms of confidence in my analysis and at the same time, I probably garnered some respect from the remaining players at the tables.

Jack: That must have been a tough call but well done! Can you tell us a bit more about the start of your poker journey?

Alex Peck: I was introduced to poker during my university days, from watching WPT shows on TV. The game intrigued me then and I started to find out more about it and eventually played online as it was easily accessible at that time.

Poker was a solo venture back then, as many of my friends weren’t interested. Thus, gradually my volume faded as the solo venture did not feel as fruitful. After graduation, my poker journey mainly revolved around playing home games with some friends at friendly stakes predominately for social and leisure.

The passion and competitiveness were rediscovered probably only about 2-3 years back, when I was introduced to a small group of like-minded individuals with the same “restraints”, yet the same goals to seek success in poker, albeit a longer path. The environment with this group has been really critical in speeding up my learning curve in comparison to when I was playing alone, and I enjoyed the process of winning as a team.

Prior to this, I did not join any live events. The group encouraged me to try live events as they said it’s softer, more value and bigger prize pools. Once I started, I actually enjoyed the interactions of a live poker tournament and whenever I can get time off from work, I’ll try to go for live events.

Jack: After your cash of nearly SGD 80,000, what’s next for your poker journey?

Alex Peck: While this is a great result, I’m treating this as a stepping stone for hopefully bigger things and results in the future. There is still a lot to learn and I’m looking at aligning my mindset with the understanding that the game will continue to evolve, and I will keep up to be ahead of the curve.

I hope to be able to join more events if it doesn’t clash with my work schedule. I am looking to add some European or Australian live events in the future if time permits.

Zef: Will you be heading to the PokerStars APPT Manila next week?

Alex Peck: I would love to, but I’ve used up all my leave for the year! Good luck to all SG players who are playing!

Zef: The blind and level structure in the upcoming APPT Manila 2018 Main Event is the same as the Poker Stars Lille Festival 2018 and similar to APT Korea Incheon and APL Xi`An China. Do you have any advice for the Singapore players competing in August?

Alex Peck: A poker tournament is a marathon and not a sprint, especially in good structured events such as this one. In fact, I only bagged 18bb at end of Day 1! Whilst there is no need to rush and you can afford to be patient, you should be vigilant on your table to pick up information on your opponents, so you can develop a strategy to exploit spots to gather non-showdown chips at a later stage. There will be players of various competencies and it is essential to be self-aware of your table image as well as taking note of any adjustments your opponents may make against you or sometimes none at all!

There will also be times where you may make a mistake in a hand during the course of the tournament or suffer some bad beats along the way. If you are fortunate enough to still be alive despite this, I think a key thing is to remain calm and keep your composure, move forward and keep playing your best. If it’s a mistake, just learn from it quickly and try not to make the same going forward. A bit of luck wouldn’t be bad as well, haha!