If you’re an action junky, there’s really no better player to watch in a poker tournament than Jude Ainsworth.
The 36-year-old from Galway, Ireland, may appear to be relatively sedate and composed — bald head, narrow shoulders, one arm usually stretched on to the felt, the other across his chest — but there’s a typhoon blowing inside Ainsworth that compels him to play poker in manner that few others can match.
If you looked only at a list of the starting hands Ainsworth plays, you might put his game somewhere between “loose” and “basically a random hand generator”. But if you looked at the way he plays them, at the way he accumulates chips, and at his results, you would know that there’s a rare and refined method to the apparent madness.
“I’d say ‘loose aggressive’,” he says when asked to describe his style. “I do have a very wide range, but I’m not crazy either. A couple of years ago, I used to play a lot more higher variance stuff, and I’ve calmed that down a bit. But I’m still pretty loose and have a wide range. But sometimes you’ve just got to do it.”
Ainsworth sits with about a million chips heading into the second break on on Day 4 at EPT Barcelona, looking to improve on 13th, 19th, 14th, 21st and 21st place finishes on the EPT (in Vilamoura, Berlin, Prague, the PCA and Vienna, respectively). But Ainsworth is one of few players in the remaining field who would need to finish higher than second to beat his best single online score.
When “jthaddeus”, Ainsworth’s online moniker, won the SCOOP High Main Event on PokerStars in 2009, it was worth $963,338. Only the biggest ‘COOP results are close to that, and, with Mustapha “lasagnaaammm” Kanit and Fedor “CrownUpGuy” Holz long eliminated and now in the High Roller, it’s doubtful that any of the last Main Event players have had a single online tournament cash of that size.
For all that, Ainsworth admitted his frustrations at repeatedly falling short of the final table. He says that his recent results — making the last three tables in each of his three previous trips to the EPT — demonstrate that his game is in good shape, but that the equivalent live score continues to elude him. It’s perhaps notable that even now Ainsworth remembers how much was on offer to the winner, as if there’s only really one prize that counts.
“In the PCA, I was 21st and there was two million for winning,” he says. “And then Vienna, I came 21st again, with 1 million.”
He adds, “I came thirty-something in the SCOOP main event. It just keeps happening to me. Even there in the Estrellas this week, I came 18th. Three thousand three hundred players.”
Ainsworth began the day today on a table with two big stacks, Mikalai Vaskaboinikau and Markus Cerny, and about half of their million-plus total in front of him. But he was able to increase his stack to close to seven figures before the table broke, and before some bubbling animosity overspilled.
Pascal Lefrancois, also on the table, was growing a little frustrated at the time Vaskaboinikau was taking to make his decisions. “I don’t slow-roll, I’m thinking,” Vaskaboinikau said. Lefrancois replied, “I know, but we played three hands in 20 minutes. When you think about something, you don’t feel the time pass.”
In comparison with Ainsworth, everybody seems slow. I watched one hand play out between the whirlwind (Ainsworth) and the thinker (Vaskaboinikau), which the latter won after turning the nut flush. Ainsworth had open-raised from under the gun, check-raised the flop (with two hearts on it) then check-folded to a big bet on the turn.
Vaskaboinikau toyed with the idea of showing Ainsworth his hand, and Ainsworth seemed indifferent to the proposal, instead preferring for the cards to go back to the dealer so they could get on with things.
“I have my decision made pretty quick what I’m going to do,” Ainsworth says. (He was eventually shown A♥4♥). “I just know what I’m going to do on every street. I don’t think I’ve ever have the clock called on me in live poker. I play between 12 and 15 tables at home, so you don’t have much time to make your decisions.”
The approach continues to make Ainsworth a compelling sight at the table, and EPT Live viewers will likely share a wish to see him on the tournament’s final day, especially on a cards-up broadcast.
“Hopefully I can finally make a final table and get a result,” Ainsworth says, adding that he’ll be sure to have vocal support from back home in Ireland. “I’ll get a few of them over, and there are a lot of them here already,” he says. “I’m sure it’ll be rowdy.”
You can follow all the action from the various tournament floors on PokerStars Blog. The Main Event action will be on the Main Event page. And the €10,000 High Roller gets under way today as well. It’s not confirmed as record-breaking just yet, but I’m going to bet it will be. Watch me be proved right on the High Roller page.
Everything from the side events is on the side events page. It will be busy over there today as well.
There’s also EPT Live for your video-based needs.
You can also begin plotting your own bid for EPT glory by downloading the PokerStars client and having a crack. Follow this EPT event via the EPT app. There you will get all the latest news, chip counts and payouts. You can download it on Android or IOS.