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Meet Andrew Hanak: Winner of 3 Tournaments during one Festival Series!

Meet Andrew Hanak: Winner of 3 Tournaments during one Festival Series!

During our events of The Festival Series, it is not only about fun at the tables, countless events throughout the day, meeting fanatic poker players from all across the world, but also about achievements in poker! During our previous stop at the Banco Casino in Bratislava, back in November 2023, one player in particular would have the story of a lifetime by winning three tournaments within one week! Andrew Hanak, residing in the UK, is not only a great person to have at your tables for some good banter, but definitely is someone to look out for when it comes to poker skills!

Locations: Banco Casino, Bratislava + King's Casino, Rozvadov

Tournament Schedule: Rozvadov 2024

We are ramping up to our next event which will take place from May 31st, until June 9th, at the King's Casino in Rozvadov. A perfect moment to look back to our previous event, with the winner of three trophies!

Melvin, The Festival: That you know how to play poker is certain, considering your results during The Festival Series. But how Andrew Hanak started to play poker in the first place?

Andrew: ''I was first introduced to poker watching it on TV as a child, there was a show called the "Poker Million" - it was a sit & go format where the winner would qualify to the next round.  I remember in 2003 British Snooker player Jimmy 'The Whirlwind' White winning it. I found it fascinating that someone who wasn't a professional could take down a tournament.  I began teaching my friends at school how to play and we'd have home games at mine (always sit & go's - I didn't even know cash games existed until much later). Once I looked old enough I started going to dodgy underground rooms & snooker clubs where they would let me play without needing to show ID - I won a few tournaments here and there. Once I turned 18 and could go to casinos I'd mostly play in Luton in the regular scheduled stuff (that doesn't get recorded on Hendon Mob).  In 2014 I won my first ever trophy in a PLO side event at a micro stakes student festival - that was a great feeling!  

I never really wanted to turn pro, I didn't have a group of close mates that played, it was very much a solo hobby that I didn't back myself to have huge success in. Between 2014-2021 I mainly played cash games if anything, there was a short period where I turned pro but then I took quite a long break from it once I started my career in Product.   I started taking it a bit more seriously again during covid after discovering poker YouTubers like Brad Owen. I used to play a lot of football but unfortunately had to stop following back surgery - so poker has become my new platform to compete. My girlfriend is also very supportive which helps, she has a lot of belief in me and encourages me to play as often as I can.''

Melvin, The Festival: During the latest series of The Festival, you managed to three events. Something which has not been achieved by anyone before. What was your gameplan when you decided to come to Bratislava? And why you decided to come back again to Bratislava to visit us? as you were there as well in 2022. 

Andrew: ''The Festival in 2022 was my third or fourth (of about seven) visits to Bratislava, it's a brilliant city for poker with good cash games, soft fields and big guarantees.  I ran really deep in the €550 Main Event that year, I was chip leader for quite a lot of Day 2. It was an incredible experience, I had won a seat for €70 and it was the biggest buy-in tournament I had ever played at the time. By Day 3 I felt exhausted and made an error which knocked me in 12th, the most disappointing thing was that I never got on the featured table, so couldn't relive the experience on Youtube.  

I'd made it my goal to win a trophy that year but unfortunately didn't even make a FT let alone win any despite a load of deep runs. At The Festival in 2023, my game plan was to play as many tournaments as I could. I work full time so even when I'm away to play poker I'm usually on my laptop 9-5 and only play at night. I played the Half n' Half event (my favourite variation) and it was such a nice feeling to make a FT and I went on to win it. It was a relief to finally achieve the goal I'd set myself at the beginning of 2022.The next day I played the PLO Masters event - I had a massive stack early on but got it in bad vs 2nd biggest stack and was left crippled. I then entered the Main Event using a satellite ticket I'd won and didn't have much luck. After an unsuccessful second bullet I decided to give up with the Main Event and play more side events. 

Next up was the PLO Freeze-out which was an awesome format - I love freeze-outs as they make people play slightly tighter. Once again, I built up a massive stack early which perfectly allowed me to rectify the mistakes I made in the Masters event, was a bit like restarting from a previous checkpoint in a video game with a chance to try again. I won't forget one hand though where I lost around 70% of my stack very close to the bubble when Dutch player Jo Van Houtum made the most ridiculous hero call for his tournament life and caught me bluffing. I couldn't help but admire the call, him & I started buying each other beers for the rest of the tournament and it became a lot fun! I went from a huge stack to suddenly being all-in and at risk on the bubble, but thankfully my hand held. I made it to the FT and eventually went on to take it down. It was an incredible feeling to win two trophies, I couldn't quite believe it!  

I woke up the next day and thought I'd wind down with the Low Roller closer event before I fly home. I sent a joke text to my girlfriend saying that if I win this one, she can have all the money, never in a million years did I think it could even be possible for me to win 3 events at the same festival. I continued to run quite well and eventually found myself heads-up for the third time in a week. It was a pretty gruelling heads-up contest against a decent opponent, he won at least 4 all-ins, but I showed him a few bluffs and it led to him paying me off in some polarised spots and I eventually got the win. A mad experience... winning a NLH/PLO Mix, a PLO & a NLH felt like the perfect hat-trick - and an added bonus being awarded a package to the next festival!''

Melvin, The Festival: Poker in the UK is hot! We have been in Nottingham at the start of '23, at the Dusk Till Dawn Poker Club. Do you play regularly in the UK? And what about qualifying through online poker for live events?

Andrew: ''Things are definitely starting to boom again in the UK, which is great - although I find the tournament fields can be pretty strong depending on where you go.  Nottingham is a good card room, I've been a couple of times, but I mainly play cash in London & tournaments abroad. I don't play much online, I just don't get the same level of buzz from it as I do playing live and I'm far less patient.  Online qualifiers at Partypoker for example, are a great way to get into live tournaments cheaper so I sometimes do that if they're available.  I imagine my P/L online is absolutely shocking to be honest :) ''

Melvin, The Festival: By winning three events, of which one was the lowroller where a package was added to the first prize, we will see you in Rozvadov! Where you also have been couple times when looking at your Hendon Mob. What do you think about our new destination? And have you seen our brand new schedule yet?

Andrew: ''Yeah, Rozvadov was somewhere I'd heard about and, given that I'm half Czech, I took my girlfriend there as part of a trip to visit my Dad's side of the family. I played one of their regularly scheduled tournaments and ended up doing an ICM deal 4-handed which made it worthwhile! I went back a few months later on my own and had another profitable stay there. The poker there is really good, the dealers are great and it's so huge - it's also got nice spa facilities too. The only problem with it is getting there, both times I rented a car from Prague which adds to the journey time. As I said, before I work full time so ideally the travel time is short enough so that I don't have to take too much time off work - that's why I love Bratislava as it's super easy. I think people should definitely come though, mainly because of how good the formats are for tournaments during The Festival Series, hopefully this time I'll manage to finally get myself on a live stream... that's my goal for 2024! See you there!''

Would you like to know more about online qualifiers for The Festival Series Rozvadov?