No doubt who took the honours in the first week of the European Festival of Poker at the Grosvenor Victoria casino in London. Simon Trumper, aged 34, is a good example of how a player new to the game - he started playing tournaments only a year ago - can make a strong impression. After taking third place in the Seven-card stud event, he ran away with the pot limit Hold 'em and then took fourth place in the Omaha-Hold 'em tournament. Prize money for these results totalled over pounds 20,000, not bad going for a man whose day job is running a small drainage company in Guildford.

"I still don't know all the odds," Simon admits. "I play intuitively, without working it all out. My strongest quality is patience, followed by a determination not just to throw my chips away. I never give up. And if I do get chips, I am very dangerous. Oh, and I never look back after a bad beat!"

The pros may say he is just lucky, but he must be doing something right. Out of 37 tournaments he has played with entry fees of pounds 100 or more, he has made 11 final tables. His phenomenal run continued this week, with another pounds 10,000 pay-out for second place in the no-limit Hold 'em tournament.

Part of the explanation, of course, is a natural talent for the game. But it is also true that, thanks to books and videos, new players can pick up tips on technique which until recently were more or less professional secrets. Simon's ambition is to work at his game, in order to achieve first-rank status.

Meanwhile, here is the turning point hand he played in the pot-limit Hold 'em tournament. The blinds were 200, 200 and 400. Player A flat-called, the small blind raised, and Simon, who never looks at his hole cards until the betting gets round to him, raised 1,600 all-in on 2A-2J. To his surprise, player A re-raised on (Q-Q) and SB on (9-9) called for a side pot.

The flop came down: &J-2K-22.

The pair of queens was winning. Last card was 25.

A player who can hit this sort of hand when it really matters makes poker look easy. The test will be when his luck turns against him.

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