January 23, 2023 Player Interviews
How do you win the PokerStars Players Championship (PSPC)? With the $25,000 event due to start on January 30, we wanted to know what it takes to win $5 million. CardsChat spoke to PokerStars pro Ramon Colillas to find out how he went from Platinum Pass qualifier to PSPC champion.
We all know that winning a poker tournament, let alone a $25,000 event, is tough. You need a healthy dose of luck, as well as an ability to adjust on the fly. These facts weren’t lost on Colillas when he sat down for the 2019 PokerStars Players Championship. Because of this, he didn’t put too much pressure on himself and tried to enjoy the experience as much as possible.
“I didn’t feel too much pressure playing the PSPC, to be honest. I was champion of Campeonato de España de Poker by PokerStars. That earned me a Platinum Pass for the Bahamas, so I approached the PSPC as a bonus after an amazing 2018. I was excited to play. My goal was to just enjoy the moment,” Colillas told CardsChat.
Anyone that plays the PSPC should have fun and make the most of Baha Mar, but they can’t forget about the task at hand: winning.
Start slow and watch out for pros
Only one person can do what Colillas did in 2019, but over 1,000 players will be trying this year. With more players than ever expected in the Bahamas, making it through the masses won’t be easy. The reigning champ’s advice is to be patient and pick your spots.
“My strategy was quite basic during the early stages of the tournament. I tried to focus on the table and observe all my opponents to get an idea of who they were. I wanted to know if they were recreational players, online qualifiers, or regulars. I tried to play in the way I thought was optimal against each type of opponent,” Colillas said.
So avoiding the pros is a good idea, especially during the early stages of the PokerStars Players Championship?
“Yes, as I said, you should always try to avoid complex situations against the most experienced players, particularly at the beginning of a tournament. This is because mistakes can be more expensive when the stacks are deep. Amateur players usually make more mistakes, so it’s best to target them first,” Colillas continued.
Plenty of time to play in PokerStars Players Championship
The good news is that the PSPC isn’t a crapshoot. The structure is such that you can afford to pick your spots early on and, if possible, exploit any weaknesses you see in others.
“The structure of the tournament is very good. It allows you to pick your spots, so try to avoid tricky situations against the most experienced players. That’s the best tip that I can give anyone playing the PSPC for the first time,” said Colillas.
Of course, we know that a lot of players in this year’s PSPC will be more used to grinding online. With a record number of qualifiers set to ante up in the Bahamas, adjusting to the nuances of live poker will be crucial. The key to switching from online MTTs to a $25,000 live event, according to Colillas, is focus.
“You need to have a lot of patience and discipline. Live poker is very different [from online poker]. Sometimes you can go several hours without playing a hand. That rarely happens online. You shouldn’t let this frustrate you. Accept that things are different and focus all the time” explained Colillas.
Three tips for PSPC success
So how would Colillas sum up his approach to the PSPC? Focus, discipline, and avoiding tough spots whenever possible:
His advice for anyone taking part in this year’s PokerStars Players Championship, or any future iterations of the event, can be condensed into three tips:
- I think qualifiers should enjoy the tournament. Don’t focus on the results. Approach it as if it was any other tournament.
- Try to rest as much as possible. There are a lot of levels each day, so it’s hard to concentrate. You also have to contend with adrenaline rushes and nerves. They can cause fatigue and, if you don’t come in fresh, you’ll end up paying for it towards the end of the day.
- Always be focused while you’re at the table. Observe your opponents and take mental notes.
Those tips certainly worked for Colillas. The Spaniard topped a field of 1,039 entrants in 2019 to win his first major poker title and $5.1 million.
Everyone wins at PokerStars Players Championship
A partnership with PokerStars and a new life as a poker pro followed that victory. In fact, it changed his life. However, even if the stars hadn’t aligned, Colillas still loved everything about the PokerStars Players Championship.
“Winning the 2019 PSPC was the most important moment of my life to-date. I felt so lucky to be playing the PSPC, so winning it was even better. I’ve watched replays of the final table several times and, to this day, I still get excited” said Colillas.
Winning will be the goal of everyone who sits down to play in this year’s PSPC. Only one person will walk away as champion but, according to Colillas, no one goes home a loser.
“Everything about the PSPC is wonderful. The poker room, the setting, the tournaments, the resort. If you are lucky to have a companion, it’s great because there are lots of activities to do. In my opinion, it’s a fantastic experience that marks you for life,” Colillas concluded.
Dan Smyth is a poker media journeyman who politely reminds CardsChat readers that poker is played all around the world, not just America.
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