The Spanish version of Pokerstars’ official blog has brought to light a truly remarkable tale: the trials and tribulations endured by satellite qualifier Antonio Sotelo on his way to the final table of the Eureka Poker Tour held at the King’s Casino in Rozvadov, but which ultimately did not deter him from achieving his ultimate goal.
Most qualifying packages for international tournaments are designed to help satellite qualifiers get to the tournament, thus they have to cover more than just the cost of a ticket and make sure the participants have a way to get there.
When your target audience is the most leisure-oriented, like the one Sotelo enrolled for a €5 satellite, this option becomes almost obligatory. He decided to take the combined reward of €1,100 (the buy-in) and €400 (for incidentals). The difficulty was that it was the very last qualifying opportunity, and there were only four days to be ready for it.
He made preparations to fly to Rozvadov, hoping that the €400 he had received would be enough to pay all of his travel costs. A 15-hour layover in Mallorca on route from Vigo to Santiago by vehicle, airline to Nuremberg. He planned to take a train from Nuremberg to Weiden. The nearest city to the German–Czech border is Waidhaus, which may be reached by bus from this smaller settlement.
The day before the vacation, he started feeling dizzy, sick to his stomach, and generally unwell, despite the fact that everything was packed and ready to go. He went to the emergency room at 8:00 p.m. because he was experiencing severe stomach pain.
He snoozes for a while and then gets ready to go to the venue. Aboard the train at Nuremberg, he realizes that communicating with the conductors and crew would be difficult since he speaks almost no English and no German at all.
Despite all that has happened, he has made it to Waidhaus, and according to Google Maps, he knows that the Casino Kings is just a few hours away on foot. After less than an hour of walking, however, he realizes that the area is pedestrian-only beyond a certain point; it is also becoming dark by this time, so continuing on foot is not the most appealing option.
A local garage in the middle of nowhere informs him that there are no buses, taxis, or other forms of public transit that can get him to his destination. Antonio pays the workshop owner, and he agrees to drive him to his hotel in Svatá Katarina, which is more than three kilometers from the casino.
And after hardly eating for two days, living on isotonic drink with the single-minded goal of arriving at the major event in peak form, he rests up at the hotel at 10 o’clock on Friday the 17th so that he may play at 11 a.m. the next day.
Sotelo, who didn’t eat for 15 hours, made the money (127th, €2,667) by bagging with the remaining survivors of his first day. In addition, he was the only Spanish competing.
As you’ll see if you read the original article, the trip home was just as exciting as the trip there, adding to the black legend of the seclusion that visitors to King’s Casino join, while also serving as the cherry on top of a truly remarkable tale and one of the Hendon Mob flags that has taken more hardship to win than any other.