Are there common points between StarCraft and poker? It seems pretty different. In fact, they have a lot in common, They both are games of missing information. In Starcraft you have a “Fog of War” so you never see what your opponent is doing, so you have to guess what he is going to do to be one step ahead and it’s pretty much the same thing in poker. You never see the cards of your opponent until the end of the round so you have to guess what he might have and depending on how he played before, establish his playing pattern.
Mentally it is quite challenging. Poker might even be more challenging than Stacraft Because the difference is the proportion of luck wich is greater in poker. Is there really a “meta” in poker? Yeah, there is also a meta game. It is very important in StarCraft, in all esports games really but in poker as well. There are some playstyles that are more or less fashionable And there are ways to counter play those playstyles.
Are there things in your past as a StarCraft pro player that helped you in poker? Well all of that, and the fact that I played in Korea in 20,000 spectators venues who were always cheering for my opponents because in the semi-finals or finals my opponents were super stars in Korea. As soon as I was making a mistake or losing a fight, they were all applauding, it felt awful. So learning to handle the pressure helped me a lot. I think that in all the high level competitions, in a way, there is this pressure to get to the highest level, so it helped a lot for poker And where did this passion came from, were you a poker player to start with?
Actually no, I have always enjoyed taking risks, but in 2003 there was an amateur who qualified for the 10 millions Dollars World Championships of PokerStars starting with 33 dollars. He had never played in a casino before and in the tournament in beat all of the best players in the world. He earned 2.5 millions dollars.
And it was happening as the poker and the best first deposit casino bonuses south africa were becoming very popular on the Internet. He was just an accountant who had nearly never played before. So everybody thought “I can be the next one” A friend of mine who was in the USA told me “You should try to play poker” “You would like it, you would be good” So I am thinking, why not? He told me to set up an account on PokerStars and he sent me 10 dollars to get me started. You became good quickly?
Well, the first couple of months I was just playing for fun, just as a hobby, I wasn’t taking it very seriously. Then i wanted to be more serious about it. I quickly realized I was pretty talented, that I could earn a lot. I was really enjoying the game and it gave me a freedom that I had lost with starCraft. Because my manager had made me sign a contract that I didn’t really like. Do you have a particularity, things for wich you’re famous in poker?
Actually, I have the Guinness World Record of the greateast number of tables played in an hour. I played 63 “Sit and Go” but my career in Starcraft helped a lot with that, Because I was able to play 20 to 30 tables, or 63 tables in an hour in that case How do you handle 63 tables simultaneously ? 63 is extremly hard, 30 or so is not to bad, even if you lose some. But the more tables you play, the more you lose your “edge” You can’t play as well. Is there a “mind set” you have to be in when you go to a tournament? Well, you have to be focused, it’s a bit like StarCraft.
You have to be very focused so I’m using meditation. Oh Really ? It’s especially important in poker to be well rested, because the days are very long.
The main difference with StarCraft is that StarCraft is very intense. But it’s played in Best of Fives which last 1h, 1h30 max. So you feel that it’s playing on your nerves as time is going on ?
Whereas in poker you can play up to 10 or 12 hours. So if you are not well rested and feeling good, at the end of the day, you are much more likely to make mistakes What is your favorite memory in a tournament? If you have one. My favorite would be in 2008 when I won the tournament in the Bahamas PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. It is the biggest tournament in the Bahamas to this day And I earned like 2 millions dollars. It’s also my first tournament victory so it was rather exceptionnal for me.
And how did it feel? It’s hard to describe because I had already played in a lot of tournaments, and in poker it’s very rare to win because there are 1100 players. So even if you are the best You have maybe one chance out of a hundred to win, maybe less. The fact to win this big tournament at that time, it really was the begining of my career So it was… It’s hard to explain what you feel in times like those, but it’s truly incredible.
Do you have lucky charms or other items you bring in tournaments? Well, I am not very superstitious but I like the DJ deadmau5, he has small mice figurines. I have one right here. Can I see? When he is on stage, he always has this mask just like that. Yeah he does.
And it is perfect because I can use it as a card protector. Is poker as competitive as an esport game? Because you were comparing to esport earlier. Or is it a family-like ambiance, maybe? Well it depends, because poker can be played different ways.
You can play with your friends for just 5 euros it is just for fun. But when you play for tournaments… I just was in a tournament in Las Vegas. It’s like 100,000 euros upfront just to play in the tournament So when everybody puts up 100,000 euros, everyone is focused, they a;re not here to party. You must be travelling a lot, is it something that you enjoy? Yeah I like it honestly, that is also why I like Poker, it gives me the opportunity to travel, discover a lot of different places.
But whenever you feel like settling down for a while it must be quite complicated, isn’t it? Well there are lots of people that play mainly on the Internet, I do both. Is there one you prefer over the other by the way? Well at the begining I prefered playing online but now I also like offline tournaments. I like both actually, it’;s pretty much the same game even if there are some differences.
But I like to interchange. The thing is, online you can easily play 20 tables, there’s always something happening. Offline, it feels more quiet but you have to stay focused longer.
And do you have an objective for the years to come, things that you want to do ? because you went very far in your career as a poker player, so are there things left for you to accomplish or do you think you have done it all? There are always objectives to accomplish. The ultimate dream would be to win the title of World Champion in the World Series of Poker Main Event. It’s the tournament with 8 millions dollars for the first place in Vegas, It’s my absolute dream but I’d just like to keep on winning new trophies And try to leave my mark on the history of poker, that would be very cool. Well, then good luck to you and thanks for answering my questions and this walk in Prague, it was really cool.
My pleasure, I hope you liked it. It was great !