It’s good to be 29-year-old Springs local Athanasios Polychronopoulos. It’s really good. Polychronopoulos, who graduated from East Hampton High School and has a large Greek family in East Hampton that used to own Gordon’s Restaurant in Amagansett, just won a huge event at the World Series of Poker.
And he did it for the second time.
If you’re local to East Hampton, you’ve undoubtedly heard about the story—he’s officially a local and world celebrity now. Polychronopoulos, who has been playing poker seriously since 2003, entered event 17 at the World Series of Poker tournament for $1,500, and found himself beating out more than 2000 people for the championship. His take-home pay for the victory? A cool $518,755. He is now one of just a handful of people on the entire planet to have won at the most famous poker tournament in the world twice. In 2011 Mr. Polychronopolis won $650,223.
The story is inspiring. Athanasios, who is known as “Tom” for short, was never labeled as a math genius or computer whiz growing up in Springs. He was, more or less, a very regular guy with a popular family and a really long last name. He dresses stylishly, wears hoodies, hangs out with his friends and is soft-spoken. If you saw him before he made it big in poker, you would think to yourself that he was just a regular kid from East Hampton.
But he isn’t, the very opposite is true, whether he chooses to admit it or not. On camera, Polychronopoulos is remarkably humble for somebody who has the best poker game in the world. During an interview, when a reporter from Online Poker News asked him how he was feeling and what was going through his head, he sat silently for a moment, searching for words, and then said, “Well, a lot. I’m blessed. Life is good. There is not much more else to say.”
BUT THERE IS A LOT TO SAY, ATHANASIOS!!!
Poker fans are losing their minds over Athanasios, and with good reason. He stands alone in the world of poker in terms of his accomplishments. His latest win officially makes him the first player in WSOP history to win two “large field” events with buy-ins that were $1,500 or less. So players around the world are dissecting his game in online forums left and right, looking for tips and techniques they can make their own. Some players are even suggesting that Athanasios’ long name is somehow adding to the overall psych-out effect he uses against other players.
Even if you have zero interest in cards or gambling, I highly recommend that you check out the final World Series of Poker hand online. In previous interviews, Athanasios was asked what his favorite card in the deck was. His answer: “Queen of Hearts.” During the final hand, with millions of dollars in the pot, Polychronopoulos needed one card to turn up in order to take home the championship.
I don’t think I have to tell you which one flopped onto the table. When the crowd realized he had won the hand, and the title, friends who had traveled to Las Vegas to support him nearly broke down the barrier in a wild mania of cheering and roaring celebration. That elation was shared here at home.
If you see Athanasios around in Springs this summer, give him a high-five, congratulate him. But if you’re a gambling man or woman, I wouldn’t suggest asking him to play.