Middle East 2014

Alexandr Lakhov

lakhow3Middle East Tour ( Oct 30th - Nov 10th, 2014 )

Congratulations on your victory! What do you feel?
I am incredibly happy and satisfied with myself. To win the first place is always important for a player, especially if the opponents are very good.

We know that you are a great fan of Merit Poker. Can you tell us why?
Yes, you are right, I just love it here. As soon as I discovered Merit Poker, I have been visiting Cyprus to join various poker events held in Crystal Cove. This is an incredible place – we are just like one big family, where everyone is friendly and charming. I have to say that Merit Poker is a unique place, too. A player has no worries here – where to eat, where to enjoy, how to spend his free time – everything is just right at his fingertips. We can meet with friends to discuss the events, we can watch football or play billiards – you name it. What else can a poker player wish? Nowhere else in Europe, you can find the opportunity to get everything, absolutely everything included in a package!

Gabriel Schoucair

schoucairMiddle East Tour ( Oct 30th - Nov 10th, 2014 )

Congratulations on your victory! Would you, please tell us about yourself.
My name is Gabriel Schoucair, I am twenty-six years old and my every trip is to Cyprus, to play Texas Hold’em in Merit. I have been playing poker just for 3-4 years but consider myself as a successful player.  I studied business management and graduated three years ago.

Did you take any poker lessons?
No, I did not take any lessons but I read a couple of books on poker and practiced; I play too much.  Although I play online poker too, it is not my favorite. I prefer the live game, cash game and tournaments. You can get bored easily online; it is too automatic, at least for me.

You have been very successful with Warm Up events. Is it the kind of luck you have, or is it a coincidence?
Well, I do not know what it is but definitely not luck. I just play a lot. I wish I won the Main Event. Last four tournaments in a row I played here in Merit Poker, I have won Warm Ups, it just happened this way.

Makram Saber

saberMiddle East Tour ( Oct 30th - Nov 10th, 2014 )

Congratulations on your victory! Would you, please tell us about yourself? How long have you been playing poker?
I have been playing poker for five years exactly. I started playing the 5-card poker first and then I was introduced to Texas Hold’em. Everything began with small tournaments, but now I am retired and travel everywhere to join various poker events. This is my favorite hobby, which I do to enjoy, not to earn money.

How did you learn Texas Hold’em? Did you take any lessons?
Well, as I said I used to play poker and Texas Hold’em is very much the same. Once you know the strategies and peculiarities of poker, it is easy to learn another type of it. I just played with my friends first to get the practice; that is all.

When did you start coming here, to Merit Poker?
I have discovered Merit Poker in 2009, and have been coming here to play in the events since. I like it very much; it feels like home. The staff is very efficient and friendly and the President of Merit Poker, Ms. Songul welcomes us with all the warmth and most of the Lebanese players feel very comfortable here.

Nikolay Tyurin

tyurinMiddle East Tour ( Oct 30th - Nov 10th, 2014 )

Congratulations on your second place in the Main event. When and how did you start playing poker?
My poker career started five years ago. A friend of mine took me to a casino in Moscow to introduce a new game. This new game was Texas Hold’em poker. It was November 2009, I suppose. Then the casinos were not forbidden in Russia and there were many active poker rooms and clubs available for playing. So, once I tried Texas, I have been playing ever since.  Moreover, I liked to play every single card combination out of curiosity. I just wondered what would come out in the end.

Did you study any poker theory?
I read a bit, mostly Harrington, but the more theory you read the more you distance yourself from the real game, that is what I noticed. Then I stopped reading and started paying more attention to practicing and learning different strategic hints during the game.  

How often do you come to Merit Poker?
I have been coming to Merit Poker for three years already and this is my seventh or eighth final table. After my very first visit, I was virtually conquered by Cyprus and in October, exactly three years ago I came to Merit Poker for the first time. The most surprising thing was that I played in the Main Event final on that first visit; I did not win the final but still, it was very pleasant to get there and to be in the money.

Onur Unsal

unsalMiddle East Tour (Oct 30th - Nov 10th, 2014)

Congratulations on your impressive results! Tell us about your poker career, please.
Approximately 8 years ago, I guess, I watched on Eurosport the 2ndseason of EPT for the first time; besides, my father used to play the so-called Turkish Poker and I knew a bit about the game. Later I started playing with my own friends, cousins, school friends and tried to improve my game. Then I learned Texas Hold’em poker. In July 2009, we heard about poker tournaments, held in Merit and started coming here. I think I missed out just on the first Merit Poker tournament.

What was the biggest prize you have won before this Main Event?
The biggest victory until now was the High Roller tournament in September last year, when I have won $80K. Before that in February, I have won another High Roller event with $72K prize.

Where else in the world did you play?
Two years ago, I went to San Remo to the EPT but did not achieve any success. I did not like that tournament much; too many people were participating in the events and the atmosphere was not at all relaxing. I did not enjoy it; there were not many Turkish players so I felt a bit lonely. I do not go abroad much; Merit Poker is my favorite place to play tournaments. I like the atmosphere of Merit Poker. It is very heart-warming and friendly. We play poker with friends and in our free time, we discuss the games and share our experiences, meet for a drink or simply relax in our rooms.

Özgür Arda

ardaMiddle East Tour ( Oct 30th - Nov 10th, 2014 )

Congratulations on your second place in the Warm Up event. Would you, please tell us about yourself?
I started playing poker with my friends in 2009 and from the year 2010, I proceed to play professionally.  Apart from playing online poker, I join various poker tournaments held in Cyprus and Europe. This year I have played the live events more often as I have more time now. The last four years everything has been going smoothly. I come to Merit frequently; to be more exact, I came here for the first time five years ago as an amateur and since then I have hardly missed a tournament held here.

What other countries did you visit to play in the tournaments?
Last year I have played in almost all of the EPTs, except for Monte Carlo. If no problem arises, I am going to visit Prague one month later. I have been participating in all the EPT events for the last two years. Although I was not very successful apart from Barcelona, the results are still not bad. In two different events held on the same day in Barcelona, I have reached the final tables, and won the 3rdand the 7thplaces. This was fantastic; it was a very pleasant day. Becoming the ‘bubble’ after my return back here was very upsetting, though.