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Steve Watts used to play professional football for Sutton United but after suffering a career-ending injury a few years ago he's turned most of his attention to poker. Watts is now competing at the 2014 Battle of Malta and spent a few minutes speaking with BOM Host Maria Ho about what drew him to the game of poker. Watts got his start on the felt playing with some of the best poker players in the UK including The Hit Squad's Praz Bansi and James Akenhead. Watts tells Maria about how his fellow footballers used to lose their shirts in games of poker on the tour bus and how the excitement of going deep in a big poker tournament rivals the experience of scoring goals on the pro-football pitch. Check out the full interview and stay tuned to PokerListings.com for all the action from the 2014 Battle of Malta.
Maria: Hi! Maria Ho at the Battle of Malta and with me is Steve Watts. Wattsy as he's known. And I heard that this is your first time here at Malta. So tell me a little bit about your experience so far.
Steve Watts: I got in last night, no yesterday noon, I had a little bit of sun. I had a little look around. The town looks really nice. And just coming to this amazing venue today is like I'm really glad to do an EPT here as well because it's a really good venue.
Maria: Right and also I heard that a lot of people have been recognizing you as the footballer self, but people don't really know how much you play poker, and how much you've enjoy playing poker and how that's a really big part of your life now.
Steve: Yeah, obviously I got football playing, injured playing football, and since then I've just started off part time playing poker. And since then I've just gradually moved up the stakes and really enjoy myself lately.
Maria: Well there's a lot of English players that are really good poker players. So who are some of your poker mentors or people that you talk poker with?
Steve: Yeah, I started playing. It's funny because I started actually playing part time with the Hit Squad, like James Akenhead, Martin Zadenny, and Praz Bansi. And I was always playing the cash games and the sit and go for them. And I see obviously James do well that time in the World Series main. And since then, I've just learned a lot from them and just got better and better.
Maria: So would you say that when you play in something like this, a 500 euro buy in, do you feel more comfortable at this stake or have you now graduated to the point where you're playing higher stakes?
Steve: I'm playing all sorts of stakes absolutely EPTs, and some high rollers and stuff. I treat every comp as the same. I just enjoy it. Whether it's a five k or a five hundred or whether it's a fifty rebuy. I just like to have a little banter at the table and chat to everyone.
Maria: Would you say that football and poker have some similarities, in terms of the adrenaline and the excitement, that you feel when you're bluffing in a huge hand and when you're out there on the field? Would you say one is more exciting than the other?
Steve: Scoring goals is obviously great adrenaline, but when I was in a main event two years ago, in the last sort of 55 basics that was like butterfly time. You know 10 million to the winner and stuff. It's a bit different but I think, obviously coming from a sports background, it helps you keep your composure and stuff like that.
Maria: So do you have any good stories for us, about any of your team mates that you played with back in the day or just on the road? Maybe you guys started a little game, just for fun, that might have turned a little serious?
Steve: It's been that long ago since I played on the coach. But yeah we used to have light, little poker scores on the coach. But a lot of times it was a lot easier and quicker to do brag. So we'd just do three card brag. People used to lose a lot of money on them coaches and get to the games really unprepared.
Maria: Okay! Well we're glad to have you here at the Battle of Malta and as long as you're not at my table, I think you have a good shot of doing well here.
Steve: Thanks very much for that. Cheers!