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Ramzi Jelassi: Taking The Next Step
Swede Ramzi Jelassi burst onto the PokerStars European Poker Tour scene with a 25th place finish at EPT Baden back in 2006.
Within six months he found himself deep again, finishing 19th in Warsaw and less than a year after that, he made 36th in Dortmund.
The now 23-year-old kept knocking at the door, making 20th in Barcelona in 2008 and 19th in Copenhagen last year, but the glory of an EPT title kept eluding him.
Now, with the label as one of the best young Europeans in the game without a major win firmly attached, Jelassi finds himself with another legitimate shot at a big score in this week's EPT Grand Final.
"I feel like I've always played good in big tournaments," he told PokerListings as the field was whittled down to just 24 in Monte Carlo Wednesday. "If you ask me, it should have happened long ago.
"It's not like I'm the new kid in town. If it happens now, great, but whether it does or not, eventually I'm going to win something."
After a deep run in the 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event that ended with a 425th place finish, Jelassi went on to book the biggest score of his young career with a €170,000 win in San Remo on the new PokerStars Italian Poker Tour one month later.
He did previously book a €2k side event win on the EPT in 2008, but Jelassi says his most recent brush with success was the kind of confidence builder he needed to get back on the big stage.
"Mostly it helps with the self esteem," he said. "When you feel you are playing good, and you are winning, it's a good compliment for your game. When you are losing for a while you start to do things differently maybe.
"It's good to be on a winning streak and I've been playing for a long time, so I don't change my game too much. Maybe just some small things I've learned about other players."
But whether the RedKings Poker sponsored Jelassi changes or not, he accepts that the game itself is always in flux.
"Of course it is developing; the game is different now than it was before," he said. "But in the end I play my normal game. My game is always different. If I'm at a tight table I play a certain way and if I'm at a loose table I play another way.
"Even if the game is developing, my approach is pretty much the same."
Jelassi says he's seen an increase in players floating and has made the adjustment. But it was only a slight one.
"I try to just keep up and see how the players on my table are playing," he said. "It is such a dynamic game, there's so many things going on."
And as he goes about the task of taking on Europe's finest players, sitting near the bottom of the pack heading into Thursday's play down to the final table in Monaco, Jelassi isn't focused on removing that label as the continent's best young player without a big win.
Even with a with a €1.7 million first-place prize on the line, he's just trying to keep things in perspective.
"Of course, if you win a lot of money, you're going to be extremely happy, it doesn't matter who you ask," he said.
"I didn't win for a long time and I did start dreaming about it and all of that. But I don't want to be sad about millions I didn't win. If I win I'm happy, if I don't, I'm still happy."