Tamer Kamal was looking bothered. The cause was Ana Marquez and a hand he’d played against her shortly before the break which was still on his mind.
Actually, Marquez was also bothered, admitting as the level ended that she was titled by the last 90 minutes of play, one which saw her lose the bulk of her stack shortly before she tangled with Kamel.
Marquez had opened the hand, with Kamel calling behind with a big ace and position. The flop of ace-five-three rainbow was good or Kamel and Marquez led out, as he unsuspected, before he min-raised, thinking Marquez’s bet was weak. The turn was a queen.
“She can have ace-queen but I didn’t really put her on a big hand anyway,” said Kamel.
That brought back-door flush possibilities and both players checked for a six of diamonds on the river, which also brought straight draws. It also brought trouble for Kamel.
“I knew she was capable of playing that kind of hand,” said Kamel, who had intended to call any river card until Marquez then moved all in. “I didn’t see her risking all her stack. I know she’s a little bit tilted, but you can never trust a lady to be honest! That’s what I’ve learned in my life!”
Joking aside, Kamel was left tanking for several minutes, finally passing. He looked a little distracted for a while, even with a stack that stands better than average. But it helps to remember how things had been earlier in the week. Down to 4,000 chips in level four of day one, he subsequently turned that into 40,000 before spending the second day with nothing more than around ten big blinds. But that changed yesterday and it’s been good news ever since.
Looking at the bigger picture this is simply the latest phase of Kamel’s progress as a serious player, which took off at EPT London last season and continued in London in October, where he cashed in the main event and reached the final table of the high roller event, the first he’d ever played. It showed Kamel at his confident best.
“To be honest, I was pretty confident in myself anyway,” he said. “I wouldn’t be playing this if I didn’t think I could be one of the best. I just love playing with these big players and one day I want to be one of these big players.”
It’s a thought process that makes you ask yourself at what stage he’ll consider himself to be on a par with such an esteemed group–before or after he makes two Main Event and one High Roller final?
But he seems intent on proving it to others, a process that would not mean anything if it were full of short cuts.
“I’ve always been really tough on myself like that,” he said, referring also to his former career choice of football. A promising career beckoned until he injured his knee during a trial in Egypt (he is half-Egyptian). It had a serious effect on Kamel who was looking for a new direction for his life.
“That really hurt me in a sense that I want to be someone,” he said. “I don’t want to be doing the standard thing. I’m sure my parents wanted me to be a solicitor or something, and I don’t want to disappoint them, but I want to be better and different and achieve more than the average person. That’s what pushes me on. That’s why I thrive in these situations.”
And thrive he does. The only question is how far it will take him. For now that means the last four tables.
Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter.