Interview with Ontario’s Demo Kiriopoulos- $136k Winner of 2011 Punta Cana Poker Classic

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Demo Kurlopulos Holds the Big Check at Punta Cana
Demo Kurlopulos Holds the Big Check at Punta Cana

While many of us were busting out the window scrapers and snow shovels last week, 20 year old Ontario poker player Demo Kiriopoulos was busy busting out players in the Dominican Republic and in the end he outlasted the entire 415 player starting field of the $1500+$150 Punta Cana Poker Classic Main Event; claiming $136,949 top prize.

Along with the huge pay-day, Kiriopoulos gets a little added bragging rights with his title as his finish secured back to back 1st place finishes by a Canadian player; we are now 2 for 2 in only the second year of the event.

Demo didn’t have it all easy either; Humberto Brenes, Freddy Torres, Evelyn Ng, Elliot Peterman and John Hewitt are just a few of the pros that also played in the 3 day tournament. It didn’t seem to matter much though and even at just twenty years old, Demosthenes has certainly learned a few tricks of the trade of his own; more than enough to get the job done here. In fact, after asking Kiriopoulos a few questions it’s clear that he has been around the game long enough to learn a bit about it’s ups and downs; as well as knowing how to get back up from the bottom and head for the top. Here is what he had to say:

CP: “It was only the second year for the Punta Cana Poker Classic, so a lot of players may have overlooked it. Maybe we can start off by asking you tell us a little about the tournament. Other than big fat pay day, what where the other highlights for you? Should other Canadians be marking this as a ’must attend’ on their poker calendars?”

Demo Kiriopoulos: “The tournament itself I thought was very well organized. It was run extremely well, from great dealers, to great rulings made by the tournament director and staff. Other Canadians should definitely make this a must attend on their schedule for the future! The Hard Rock is an amazing resort, and the people are very nice. It not only makes for a good poker tournament, but if you bust early, you can just make it a fun vacation. There’s a lot more value to this trip than say, the PCA, where the competition is a lot tougher, and the Atlantis is kind of way overpriced. I’ve travelled the world for poker tournaments and I will definitely be back next year to defend my title.”

CP: “Is this your largest single score? Have you travelled to other popular poker destinations? What limit/level of events do you normally play in Ontario?”

Demo Kiriopoulos: “To date, yes this is my largest single score. I have travelled to many places for poker tournaments though, even though im only 20 years old. As soon as I turned 18 years old, I actually flew out to Calgary to play in the CPT events they had going on at the Stampede Casino. It was a great start and I finished in 10th place in the $550 they had on May 13, 2009. That one is pretty easy to remember as it was on to my 18th birthday; it would have been a nice story if I had won it, but ’oh well’…still not bad for my first live tournament at the time. After that, I made some poor desicions and took some shots at some big tourneys which way exceeded my bankroll at the time; I went to Barcelona in Septembler of 2009 to play in the EPT event which was 8,300 Euros, which was like $13,000 CAD at the time, but ended up busting late in Day 1. Next, I went to Aruba that October to play the Aruba Poker Classic, and then went to the PCA last January with no success. Since I finally turned 19 and was able to play in Ontario legally, I’ve built my bankroll though cash games, mostly grinding $5-$5, $5-$10 and occasionally taking shots at $10-$25.”

CP: “What’s next for Demo? Has this 6 figure win given you the bug to travel to more tournament series on the world circuit, or are you going to take the money and run? It looks like you are still just a bit under-aged to hit Vegas; but can we expect to see you playing next WSOP?”

Demo Kiriopoulos: “Well, my lifestyle is not gonna change that much. I’ve been traveling the circuit since 18 already, mostly going to places where I was allowed to play. The only thing that has changed now is that my bankroll is bigger, which will give me more flexibility with many things. I have had backers in the past or investors; but now I’m more comfortable playing bigger buy-in tourneys on my own dime. As far as ’what is next’ for me, I am headed to my first World Poker Tour event actually; in Jacksonville Florida, where the minimum age is only 18 years old. After that, I will be heading to the PCA for my third time, and once I turn 21 in May, I will be in vegas grinding my first WSOP events.”

CP: “The Dominican Republic isn’t exactly close to home and it’s always nice to have someone around during a victory; were you lucky enough to have any friends or family around to sweat you from the rail?“

Demo Kiriopoulos: “During this tournament, I’m very happy to say I had my father and my sister with me on the rail the whole week. It was a great experience; even though they don’t really understand how poker works, it was still a lot of fun having them there and supporting me in what I do for a living.”

CP: “You are the second Canadian to win this, we are now 2 for 2. You also won more than double what Peter Cross won in 2010. Was bringing this title home for national poker pride ever on your mind during the event? You must be stoked about that stat now?”

Demo Kiriopoulos: “I was obviosly very happy to bring the title back to Canada. I was told when it was 3-handed that they had wrote on the blog Canada vs USA and USA, as the 2 other remaining players were from the States. That kind of fired me up more, and made me want to bring the title back to where it belongs! Peter Cross was actually on my first table on Day 1; along with being there railing the final table. He congratulated me when I won and I have to say Peter is definitely a class act. I hope I can do the same next year. Let’s just hope a Canadian brings it home again next year too, ’cuz we’re known for hat-tricks! (Laughs).”

We’ll keep an eye out for Demo’s name on those WPT Jacksonville results…and of course the 2012 PCA. It’s always a pleasure to see our Canadian players bring another title and fat stacks home, a big thanks and Congratulations to Mr. Kiriopoulos!

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35 year old recreational player, husband and father of three from Calgary, Alberta. Enjoy lower stakes cash games including PLO and limit Omaha 8. Any of the micro-stakes HORSE games will play online MTTS and SNGs. Live, Tournaments and Satellites up to $550. I love the game but am far to social to take it seriously and sometimes give up a little to much information at the table because I enjoy discussing the game, so decided it was safest for my bankroll to take up writing about the game. That way I still get to meet the cool people and opinions on the game, but with a little less risk. Writing wise, currently a regular contributor to Poker Pro Canada, like to write profiles, previews and recaps the most. formally wrote for Canadian Poker Player Canada. My Poker Blogs have been featured on CardPlayer Social and SpadeClub as "Recommended" or in newsletters on several occasions and Pokerweblogs as "Blog of the Month". Past projects included organizing and promoting major events with the Canadian Poker Tour, introducing Big Slick Poker Tour to Southern Alberta and directing events and finals.

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