I used to be grateful when Athanasios Polychronopoulos was booted out of a tournament. The longer he lasted the more likely I was to develop arthritis in my writing digits. Then I met the guy, and now I feel a sense of sorrow when he exits stage left.
Polychronopoulos has a very unusual aura that surrounds him that you don’t often find in a man of his young age. One look at him and you know he is brimming with love, gratitude and warmth; a rare entity in the cutthroat business of poker.
“That’s just me I guess,” said Polychronopoulos when I questioned him on his disposition, “I try and maintain a positive attitude and keep a sense of composure. I meditated a lot at a young age, so I am able to control my breathing and be aware of my surroundings. That really helps me.
“I got into it in a big way between the age of 17-20. You know what it’s like? I was a 17-year old kid who had so many questions that needed answering, so I figured I would find them within myself. I didn’t find all of the answers, but I found some.”
As a practicing Transcendental Meditator I believe there are so many benefits for people working within the poker industry, and if you doubt that, just look at the performances of Polychronopoulos. No strike that. Just sit down and talk to the man and see what a difference it has made in his life.
“I think poker players should try many things, not just meditation. They need to keep healthy and their minds sharp. Sometimes players get into a grind that seems them moving from tournament to tournament like a blind man walking down the hallway. Everyone needs some help with that, and meditation is just one of many tools at people’s disposal.”
So what else would Polychronopoulos recommend to help create a positive aura?
“Being in nature is important. I love being in nature. I like to play a lot of sports: surf, tennis, golf and volleyball. Being active and taking time off poker is important. If you play too much you are going to get burned out. After a rest you come back a little hungrier and kind of wanna check raise the turn if you know what I mean?”
How does Polychronopoulos take time off within a schedule that is so manic? How does he pick and choose his tournaments?
“I ask around to see where everyone else is going. I also like tournaments that have a lot of entrants and smaller buy-in. Try and put in the volume and try not to fire away at all the big stuff as that’s a recipe for disaster.”
Talking about big stuff. Is Polychronopoulos going to be the latest star to rise from Main Event to High Roller status?
“I would be good if someone came along and said, ‘here…go any play this High Roller and keep 20% for yourself,’ because I love the competition and would like to play. But I’m my own man. I have never been backed and so it’s not the best business investment for me right now.”
What is Polychronopoulos’s view on backing arrangements?
“I don’t think it’s a necessity to be backed. There are pros and cons either way. I like it on my own because I can sell action if I want to play big, and I like to keep all my winnings when I do well in the small stuff. You have to choose your battles wisely, be careful and not play too high and too much.”
Wise advice from a well rounded and wonderful young man.