Last week at the G Casino in Luton, the most nail biting GUKPT player of the year race came to its conclusion. Earlier this month Richard Gryko met long time leader Martin Silke in the final of the £5000 heads up event at the Vic and by defeating him, overtook him in the player of the year race by just half a point, a lead which he managed to hold onto last week at the Champion of Champions event and become the 2009 GUKPT Player of the Year.
Pokernews: Congratulations Richard, what does being the 2009 GUKPT Player of the Year mean to you?
Richard Gryko: It feels good. I hadn’t met Martin before a couple of weeks ago, but he’s an extremely nice guy and we got along well, so our contest was conducted in a very good spirit, which made it more enjoyable than it might otherwise have been. As to what it means to me, I'm not exactly sure, but I definitely feel a sense of accomplishment about it, and from an egoistic standpoint, winning titles is always nice.
Pokernews: Outside of the GUKPT where would we normally find you playing poker?
Richard Gryko: I play primarily online, I think it makes it easier to live a healthy, normal and hopefully productive life than if you focus on playing live, and I'm willing to sacrifice some potentially profitable live poker opportunities in order to do so.
Pokernews: Was the GUKPT POY race something that interested you from the outset or was it after your Luton Main event win?
Richard Gryko: I didn’t give it a second thought until I saw on the GUKPT site after Luton that I was in second or third spot. I hadn’t realised I'd accrued points from the heads-up tournament at the Vic in March, which gave me a lead over the people who had won other legs of the tour. I made arrangements to go to Cardiff, which was the next venue, but on the day I was supposed to go I woke up and decided that I couldn’t be bothered, and I didn’t see the point of forcing myself to play a bunch of tournaments I didn’t really want to, so I didn’t play another GUKPT tournament until the 5k heads-up at the Vic a couple of weeks ago. I'd made some calculations that cashing in that event could very well win it for me anyway, although they all got thrown out of the window when Martin picked up a bunch of points at Blackpool and then nullified most of my heads-up points by making the final himself, which meant that we both had to go and fight it out over the final week of the tour in Luton.
Pokernews: Was the money or the title the biggest motivator when you were going for the player of the year?
Richard Gryko: Put together, they were a very attractive package, although in the latter stages it was more the competition for the title, than the title itself that kept me motivated. The money was what got me interested in the first place, though, and obviously it wouldn’t have made sense to rack up a bunch of money in expenses if I wasn’t viewing it as an investment that would hopefully return a much larger amount.
Pokernews: How did it feel to be in such a tight race with Martin and Karl, one that saw you and Martin in the final of the £5000 heads up event?
Richard Gryko:I liked the fact that the race was tight, it made things more interesting, and it was pretty funny that the three of us were constantly drawn on, or moved to, the same table in the tournaments that took place down in Luton. As far as the heads-up final goes, it definitely gave our match an added significance, but I wouldn’t say I felt under pressure, my confidence was pretty high by that stage. I didnt really start to get nervous until the final night, when in a tournament where he had to make the final 9 to overtake me, he kept stubbornly refusing to bust out, and it got down to 30 people left, and then 20, and then 15, and it was suddenly starting to seem awfully close. But I'm glad we kept up the sporting spirit even in that situation - I was standing behind him with his father for what seemed like forever, and although obviously we both wanted the title, the three of us were joking around and the atmosphere was very amiable
Pokernews: Amazingly despite being the joint chipleader before play started, you chose not to play in the Champion of Champions event to go to a concert instead, most players would have got out of the concert, why didn’t you?
Richard Gryko: Obviously it was unfortunate that the two events clashed, but going to the concert was a birthday present for my cousin, it was something she really wanted to go to, and I think it'd have been pretty mean to put a poker tournament ahead of a family birthday, so no, it wasn’t a tough decision. We went, we had a great time, and I don’t regret skipping the Champion of Champions event in the slightest.
Pokernews: After such a big 2009, what are your plans for 2010? More of the same or a change of pace?
Richard Gryko: No, I definitely don’t want to spend an entire year chasing around Europe playing a bunch of tournaments I won’t really enjoy. I plan on playing a small number of events held in places I'd want to travel to even without a poker tournament being held there. I've had a good few months playing live regularly again, but I'm ready to take a break - by many people’s standards, I've had a light schedule since August, but there have been times when I've done what feels to me like a ridiculous amount of travelling and I don’t like the feeling of constantly being on the road. It’s been fun to get rid of the rusty feeling I had when I was playing live four or five months ago, but on the flipside, I'm looking forward to getting back into a groove online.
Picture courtesy of Blue Square