CC: Tell us about yourself.
Spyro: My name is Spyro Mitrokostas. I live on Cape Cod in Massachusetts with my wife Jenny and our two sons; Billy, 20 a junior at Worcester Polytech Institute and Jimmy, a senior at Dennis Yarmouth High School.
CC: Tell us about Cooke's Seafood, your restaurant. Congratulations for having a business for almost 30 years. What is the most difficult part about the restaurant business for you?
Spyro: Thank you. I own Cooke's Seafood Restaurant in Orleans, Massachusetts. It's been in my family since 1976, and I have been the owner since 1990. The hardest part of my restaurant business is explaining various seafood items to people who have no idea. We are blessed to be involved with such a successful business. Our seafood is award winning, and I'm very proud of the compliments we always get about our quality, cleanliness, and cheery staff. My people make life easier for all.
CC: People rave about your clam chowder and onion rings. Can you give us your secret?
Spyro: I can't give you any secrets about our fabulous chowder and onion rings, but I can tell you that we use an old family recipe for the batter for the rings, and of course it's the secret that makes my chowder the best!! It really is!
CC: Tell us about how you started playing poker, as well as how long you've been playing.
Spyro: I started playing poker at a very early age. I learned from my parents, the rules that is, but I never learned how to play from anyone. I've never read a book about poker, although I do however discuss poker with people that I respect and trust and do learn from them as they do from me. The first times I played for money was on the bus going to school. I continued playing thru college, making spending money as I played. After college, I played in a home game for about 15 years. We played Tuesday's and Thursday's, and I was a consistent winner year after year.
CC: Tell us how you moved up in levels.
Spyro: When Foxwoods poker room opened in the early nineties, our home game ended and I started playing cash games there, usually 15/30 limit Holdem. When tournaments started there at Foxwoods, I experimented with them and found that I enjoy them a lot. In 1999 I started playing online. At that time there were cash games available only. I definitely was not winning at the cash games online. I started playing cash games live and online less and less as I got more into tourneys. I tasted my first victory in 1999 at Foxwoods, $13,000 I think it was (NOTE: $17,400), but I knew then that tourneys were what I was best at and also enjoyed more. I still played live cash games but curtailed my online cash play. I joined PokerStars in 2002 and found paradise for me: online tourneys of all amounts--just right for me!!
CC: What do you normally play at Foxwoods vs. online (where, games and stakes)?
Spyro: Online, I generally play about 50 hours a week. I play tourneys of all sizes online: buy-ins of 20, 50, 100, 200; probably thirty per week. I also play some cash games, mostly pot limit Omaha, which I love. With $5/10 blinds, that can bring some huge pots. I also play limit Omaha H/L, $30/60. At Foxwoods, I play some NLHE cash games, but. not a lot. Every Tuesday night, I play in the NLHE w/ re-buys and have since 1998. I used to play with my buddy Greg Raymer; of course, now he is in North Carolina, I rarely see him. He did come sweat me at my WSOP Final Table this year-that's a great guy!!
CC: You won two NLHE events at the World Poker Finals at Foxwoods, the $1k event in 1999 ($17,400) and the $2k event in 2002 ($35,880). What did those two victories mean to you?
Spyro: The two World Poker Final wins earned me a lot of respect, which is very important when playing poker. I knew I could play all the games and was not afraid or intimidated by anybody. My confidence grew more and more, and I also had some nice online tourney wins including winning a WCOOP event on PokerStars and the $215 NLHE in Nov 2003. I never traveled anywhere but Foxwoods for live tourney play then, bringing up two sons and running a business kept me from all that at the time.
CC: You continued to do well in various tournaments online and at Foxwoods through 2004. Were tourneys something you particularly focused on, or did you just transition to solid results from your live cash games?
Spyro: In 2003, I played many tournaments at PokerStars as well as Foxwoods. In February and March alone I made 26 final tables at PokerStars, winning four events. My first travel was the PokerStars cruise where I was eliminated in 70th in the main event. It was a bad beat, but I was gaining lots of knowledge and experience. The next year, I finished 19th cashing for about $20,000. It was bittersweet as I suffered a 4-outer river beat to Steve Zolotow. I felt like crying, but again I gained more respect and experience.
CC: This has been a great year for you, first busting out in 7th in April's WPT tournament at Foxwoods (won by Victor Ramdin) then making your first WSOP Final Table. First, tell us about the Foxwoods event.
Spyro: Aha, now you want to know about the Foxwoods Classic. Well, I played some great poker for three days and felt as comfortable as ever playing and reading my opponents. I never ever had a feeling that I was not going to win that event.
CC: You were in great shape when you were down to the final seven, on the TV bubble but you ran into two brutal hands. First, tell us about the Alex Jacob hand.
Spyro: When we reached seven players, I was in great shape, and you are right that a big hand came up that took half my chips. The blinds were $15k/30k, and I had $900k. The UTG player Ed Jordan raised it to $100k. He had plenty of chips, and I was next and had J-J but I just called for two reasons: to trap Ed and have position on him. I also felt that Alex Jacob was getting frustrated with Ed's raising, and I felt he might make a move. He had 500k in chip, and he went all in as I expected. Ed folded, and after nine minutes of thinking I called. I had him 33 percent over pair, 33 percent A-K, 33 percent under pair or stone cold bluff. I did think of folding just to make the final six but I never play that way. I went for the gusto, and of course he had A-A that held up, and I was low stacked.
CC: Then you picked up a great hand on the very next hand and looked in good shape.
Spyro: Then came the final disaster, all-in pre flop I had Q-Q and Ed Jordan had A-3 and hit a club flush. I had the queen of clubs which made it worse, and I bubbled and cried again!!
CC: So much work to get close. What did you take away from your biggest tournament score to date?
Spyro: I did take away from this tourney the absolute fact that I can play with anyone and at least I cashed $125,000 which helps with all the expenses of poker and I can buy some jewelry for my wife!!
CC: Was this year your first WSOP?
Spyro: Last year, I came to Las Vegas and played the Main Event for the first time. I bought in then won four seats online on PokerStars, so that was great! Unfortunately, I ran into set over set late the first day, and home I came. This year PokerStars sponsored me in the main event and three other events. It's an honor to have the best online site on my side.
CC: Your final table came in a strange event, as miscommunication by Harrah's led to launching two PLHE events on the same day, one a re-buy and one without (which you played in). Tell us about how the event went, as well as your final hand vs. the eventual winner, Ralph Perry.
Spyro: I made the final table in the PLO and felt very, very comfortable with my play and reads again. I felt like I was going to win a bracelet!! But alas with six people left came a crazy hand. It's been reported in outlets that Ralph perry was the cutoff and I was the button. But he was the small blind and I was big blind. He raised the pot with A-K-Q-7. I called with A-Q-J-6. The flop came A-Q-J-X with 2 diamonds. He bet out the pot, and I put him on a diamond draw not the nut straight. I was kinda right. He had the diamond draw but also top two as I did. My only clean out was a jack, but that never came and of course a diamond came on the turn (giving Perry the flush) and out was Spyro. I often look back at that hand, and wish I thought about it some more.
CC: A final table and another cash (39th in the $2.5k PLHE event) would be a great World Series for most of us. That was a terrific accomplishment.
Spyro: The second cash was very nice. It felt great to play with all my friends at one table!! Alex Brenes, Danny N., Lee Watkinson, Lee Markholt, Steve Z, Johnny Juanda. It was bittersweet, of course. Cashing is always good, but like all pro players I want a bracelet, sir.
CC: You have a business that you run as well as play poker at high stakes. Most of us don't play at your stakes, but we're confronted with having to balance our passion for poker with our day jobs. How difficult has it been for you, and what would your counsel be for others?
Spyro: Balancing my poker and restaurant has been easier for me than others because first I have a very helpful wife who takes over at the restaurant when I'm away and I never have to worry. Also, she is fair with my poker playing. Many other wives are too tough. Also, my sons are older and don't need my attention. They are great kids who do excellent in school and help me at the restaurant every summer. I'm a very, very lucky man, sir.
CC: What has been the greatest challenge for you in poker the last two years?
Spyro: Poker is always a challenge for me. The players are getting crazier and crazier, and I have to learn and adjust my game over and over. It's a learning game, and the learning never ends.
CC: Has bankroll management ever been an issue for you?
Spyro: Bankroll management has not been a problem because my poker roll has always been full. I've been lucky in big tourneys which I believe is the key to overcoming rakes and entry fees.
CC: I heard that your wife plays. Tell us about her game.
Spyro: My wife is just learning the game. She doesn't have a passion for it which one needs to get better and better. She plays for fun and has a good teacher (lucky girl!). We are good for each other, and that's why I've been able to make it in this world. Her patience and understanding is the thing I need to be successful again. I'm a very, very lucky man.
CC: What are your plans for the next six-nine months?
Spyro: My plans for the future include the World Poker Finals at Foxwoods, the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in the Bahamas in January, Commerce in February and the Foxwoods Poker Classic next April. Oh, and you can find me on PokerStars every week!