American pro Mohsin Charania has won more than $3.5 million playing poker online and has spent the last four years playing live but until tonight he had yet to finish first at a major live event.
Charania finally got the monkey off his back and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
He defeated a field of 665 tonight in Monte Carlo to claim by far the biggest prize of his career, €1.35 million, and we spoke to him shortly after he was done posing for his first event winner photo.
PokerListings.com: We spoke a few days ago and you told us that even though you’ve had a lot of success you didn’t feel like you’d broken out live. How does it feel to do it tonight?
Mohsin Charania: Unbelievable. I think it’s going to take a few days. Maybe once the money hits my bank account I’ll realize what’s happened. But I feel a real sense of satisfaction and completion. I needed the win and it’ll hit me.
No one can take it away from me. I won a big live tournament.
Mohsin Charania celebrating his EPT Grand Final win.
PL: We see a lot of guys jump into poker and bink a big tournament right away. Does the fact you’ve been working at it for years make it even more satisfying?
MC: Yeah. It gets frustrating. I’m not going to lie. When you travel for a couple of years and you see some guy you’ve never seen before and you might not think he’s the best and he wins a big live tournament and you’re kind of thinking, “Wow, what am I doing wrong?”
I’m sure there are a lot of people out there in my spot who have won a lot online or gotten deep in live tournaments and haven’t been able to run good when it matters.
I have friends that have won and they’ll tell you not to worry, and that it’ll come, but you don’t believe them. When you’ve done it for three or four years you just think, “C’mon that’s bullshit. You just run better than me.”
But I guess it’s true. If you keep at it you’ll get there eventually.
PL: You travel with a couple players, Faraz Jaka, and they were here supporting you. How much does that help when you’re in a pressure situation like this in a foreign country?
MC: Yeah it really is. It’s huge. Faraz, and another friend of mine, Athanasios (Polychronopoulos) who won a bracelet, they’re really more live players, and I can go up to them whenever and tell them I made a mistake or I played a hand this way, and they’ll break it down for you.
And if it’s a mistake then they’re there to help you move on and learn from it. With Athanasios he’s going to tell me if it’s a mistake and help me learn from it.
So when I’ve got them on the rail here I can go up to them and tell them what I had and I can get three or four different perspectives from people who have won so much live and who I respect so much.
Even if I know I played a hand fine, just to have the reassurance of them telling me I played it well, it’s massive.
Heads-up opponent Lucille Cailly
PL: How did you find Lucille Cailly?
MC: Tough. I definitely underestimated her. I think I might have had the thinking that she’s a girl, so how aggressive can she be, and I played with her on the outer table when there was about 24 left and she just immediately started raising me every hand and I thought, “Ok, well that’s going to be a bit of a challenge,” because the rest of field really wasn’t playing that aggressive.
That’s probably why she was able to get so far.
PL: The last hand came down to a flip. Besides the obvious, what’s going through your head when the entire tournament comes down to one coin-flip?
MC: I’m thinking that every card that comes after the flop needs to be a deuce. It’s weird but luckily I’ve been in so many tournaments wishing for a deuce and somehow that river always manages to be a deuce.
I guess if I’m ever up against deuces I’m pretty much screwed.
I was also thinking that even if she won the flip I had about four million back so I was thinking that if I lost, I’m going to have to grind it back and get back to even.
And I was thinking, “Please hold, for the love of god, because I don’t know if I can handle second place.” That sounds silly with all the money for second and everything but it’s true.
So I was half praying that my hand held and half preparing for what would happen if it didn’t.
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