Fortune favours the brave in the thrilling Emerald Poker Series showdown

DURBANITE Clint de Klerk has been playing poker for less than two years – but his bold victory at the Emerald Resort and Casino’s latest Emerald Poker Series (EPS) event has cemented his place among South Africa’s top players.

On 30 October, after two days and a night of intense play, De Klerk (43) defeated Rob Fenner in a thrilling finale for the third EPS tournament of 2011. The pair had been going head-to-head for about two hours when the final hand was dealt.

De Klerk was dealt an ace and a 5, Fenner a queen and a 9. De Klerk’s pre-flop raise of R400 000 on top of the R200 000 big blind, was called by Fenner. A queen, 4 and ace were dealt and Fenner checked, but De Klerk raised by R1-million.

Fenner went all in, and the players showed their cards. The turn was a queen, and the river an 8 – and with trip aces De Klerk had won his first big tournament, clinching winnings of R550 000. Fenner took home a respectable R238 000 as runner-up.

Describing poker as “my passion”, De Klerk, who runs his own printing and electronic scales company, believes the game involves 70% luck and 30% skill.

A lifelong chess player, De Klerk says he had been encouraged to try his hand at poker – “everybody told me I would find the game easy”. He was soon hooked, and has since devoted much time to learning the game, and playing in tournaments.

He’s participated in the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in the US, which he says “taught me a lot”, as well as the WSOP Africa at the Emerald – where, ironically, he went out on the same hand with which he won the EPS.

De Klerk is complimentary about the standard of poker-playing in South Africa, saying this country boasts world-standard players – several of whom made for an exciting EPS tournament.

“We had some very good players this time. It was a great game, and I really enjoyed myself,” he says.

Emerald Resort and Casino CEO Martin Rice has congratulated De Klerk on his signal win.

“Despite his relative inexperience, Clint is exactly the type of player who deserves to win tournaments like the EPS. He is passionate about poker, he has gone to great lengths to learn how to play the game competitively, and he plays with determination and steely nerves.

“We’d like to extend hearty Emerald congratulations to him for a tournament well-played, and we look forward to seeing him ante up at future poker events at the Emerald,” says Rice.

And De Klerk will be back, having set his sights on the forthcoming WSOP Africa tournament at the Emerald, which takes place in February 2012. In the meantime, he says, he’ll be honing his poker skills even further – starting with a trip to Macau, where he’ll take on the best the Far East has to offer.

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