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Sam Grafton: "I Can Make Good Decisions and Also Have a Good Time"
There are few poker players more enjoyable to watch on a live stream feature table or televised poker show than Brit Sam Grafton.
Affable, entertaining and funny, the real joy watching Grafton play poker isn't even how much fun he's bringing to the table - it's how much fun he's having himself.
Don't mistake his joviality as a cover up for any flaws in his game, though.
Since his breakthrough GUKPT title in 2012 Grafton has quietly become one of the toughest players on the circuit.
Today he narrowly missed the final table of the EPT Prague main event on the EPT Live stream, and PokerListings caught up with him shortly before busting in 12th place.
PokerListings: Two years ago PokerListings named you as one of the rising stars in Europe. Now you were invited to the Shark Cage poker show.
Sam Grafton: I guess they saw me on a poker cash game show on Sky TV. I think they liked me on that.
They saw I can play poker on a decent level even if I don’t have the same standing as some of the players on the show.
Also, I enjoy interacting with other people at the table and I don’t need to be silent to play my best. I can make good decisions and also have a good time.
PL: You talk a lot at the table. Is this just your personality or part of your strategy?
SG: It’s definitely part of me. I enjoy being that way and it passes the time.
When I used to sit there with a hoodie and headphones on, I played way too aggressive, I got bored quickly and I picked the wrong spots.
Now I’m much more relaxed. I’m enjoying myself at the table and it helps me to play my best.
PL: You're actually wearing a hoodie right now.
SG: Yes, but I’m not putting it up. I tried both playing styles but that one simply didn’t work out for me.
I have no objections to other people doing it and I’m not saying the way I behave at the table is the right way.
Both options are viable but for me talking is more fun.
PL: Your table will be the feature table after the break. You just told one guy it wouldn’t make a difference, because hole cards are not shown. Did you forget there is a live stream or does it just not bother you?
SG: Having been on TV shows of course I have a little bit of experience with that situation now. This might even give me a small edge over some players.
The cameras are not going to change my game or have any effect on me, while some inexperienced guys might be afraid to do something stupid.
They might be scared to make a big mistake when people are watching and the commentators are commentating.
It’s going to be in the back of their mind what the commentator would say if they fold this hand or push this river.
I’m just going to make the exact same decisions as if the cameras weren’t there, as by now I’m quite used to it.
PL: In the past, your political activities brought you close to going to jail. Are you still breaking into American air bases?
SG: I’m not as politically active as I used to be. I’ve been dedicating all my time to studying, working and playing poker.
But whenever I can make a small contribution in a small way, like spreading things on social media or making donations, then I’ll do that.
I still have a strong political commitment.
PL: Ok, then just one specific political question. David Cameron is taking the UK down a very Euro-sceptical course. Agree or disagree?
SG: I disagree with that. Continental Europa has such a huge beneficial financial effect, a work effect and also a cultural effect – with music and art, cuisine, lifestyle – that we can’t miss out on it.
Now I’ve been living in London, which is maybe the most cosmopolitan city in the world, and I say that all the different influences from people all over Europe and all over the world living there are only to the benefit of everybody.
Ok, I just moved to Prague two weeks ago, so I hope I don’t sound hypocritical inviting people to come to Britain while moving in the opposite direction, but I’m just trying my chances in a different place.
I’ve been looking at different cities all over Europe but I’ve always had a fascination with Prague, so I decided to come here.
I’m going to stay here for 6-12 months and then see. Who knows beyond that?
PL: Vicky Coren told us recently that the people of London have a special attitude. Opposed to others, they don’t distinguish between locals and foreigners as the whole world lives there anyway, and they are proud of it.
SG: I completely agree with that and I hope that this attitude will spread to other parts of England.
We have a long tradition and a rich heritage of immigration; people have come to make England their home for a very long time. Long may that continue.
PL: Please give us a quick sum-up of your journey through the EPT main event so far.
SG: Obviously, it’s been great so far. I was lucky enough to put myself in a good position.
However there are still some incredible bosses in the tournament, like there is Vanessa Selbst and also Davidi Kitai.
So we have some of the best players in the world still there, and I’m not going to take anything for granted. I’ll just try to do my best and hopefully go deep.