Archive for August, 2015

Patrik Antonius: “I’ve Never Used Technology to Get an Edge”

Even in 2015 it’s difficult to leave the poker floor to get a word in with Patrik Antonius.

As we tried, on Day 4 of the EPT Barcelona Main Event, he was literally getting asked to take pictures with fans every five meters.

We ended up positioning ourselves right next to the door in a far corner of the lobby where he told us about his return to live tournament poker, the disappearing of high-stakes cash games and the ills of tracking software.

Antonius doesn’t consider himself a tournament specialist which is why he doesn’t play many big events. In fact since October 2011 he only has seven cashes in international events.

Every single one of them, though, was a six- or seven-figure score. The legendary Finnish high roller is still one of the best and most efficient poker players around.

PokerListings: Where do you live these days Patrik?

Patrik Antonius: I spend most of my time in Monaco. I still play poker all over the world but rarely in tournaments.

Patrik Antonius
More big games in future.

PL: Like in Macao, for example?

PA: Not lately. I haven’t been there in about two years. I’m planning to play more big games again.

PL: Some people say Manila is the new hot spot.

PA: (smiles) Well, there are very nice poker rooms in Manila, and the Chinese can’t play in their home country so they like to go to either Macao or the Philippines.

Also, I know that Winfred’s (Yu; CEO of Poker King Club Macau) company has opened a poker club in Manila just like the one in Macau.

PL: Apparently you also have some bonds with the King’s Casino Rozvadov, as you’re wearing a patch.

PA: I have not signed anything. I spoke with the owner of the King’s Casino (ed. note: Leon Tsoukernik) and we were thinking that we might do a couple of things together in the future. So I decided to wear the patch for this event.

PL: Did you take part in the recent high-stakes game at the King’s?

PA: No, I haven’t. I haven’t been there at all, which explains why I haven’t been in that cash game.

But for now I’m very happy to be here. The event is so well organized and I’m looking forward to maybe Berlin or Malta, and also the Grand Final in Monaco.

Patrik Antonius
Apparently was possible to get even more fit.

PL: Why have you played so little poker lately?

PA: The big games I was playing in kind of dried out. In Macau the games moved more and more into private games and the game in Vegas wasn’t the same anymore, either.

Suddenly there was no more game in London and nothing in Monaco. You know, things just change in our industry. So I stepped back and cut down on poker.

Sometimes I didn’t play a single hand for months but I probably would have had there been a proper game. Then again I got to spend more time with my family and on my health and I succeeded in getting in better shape.

I used to have a lot of problems with my back, my shoulder and my hips but now I feel great. And it’s great to be back playing poker again.

PL: Any tennis matches with Gus Hansen?

PA: If he wants to play we can certainly arrange something. (laughs) But I think he’s more into squash now.

PL: What happened to your online poker? We really miss the times when you and Tom Dwan were sitting there throwing hundreds of thousands of dollars around.

PA: You know, it’s a little sad, but it looks like the technology has advanced so much that it’s become a totally different game.

Nowadays players use software that gives them so much information and so much data that it has become more of a game of numbers.

I never used any of these programs. I‘ve never used technology to get an edge. I’m more of a feel player who’s living in the moment.

But the players today know what they’re doing. They are basing their play on what the software tells them to do so it feels like you’re playing against a computer these days.

poker tracker big2
Software has changed the high-stakes game.

If you don’t use poker software it’s not a fair game anymore. But I still like to play Mixed Games.

PL: There’s no tracking software for these games.

PA: Well, I’m sure some smart people are already working on it and that there will be programs for Stud poker or heads-up 2-7 Triple Draw.

As much as I know Limit Hold’em is now basically solved. (ed. note: well, pretty much) I actually had to quit Hold’em and PLO online.

I lost about a million straight and then I realized that I couldn’t beat the ring-games anymore and that was largely due to tracking software.

I would take my chances against any high-stakes player live but online I don’t like my chances anymore, unfortunately.

PL: You’re all fired up about live poker again.

PA: Yes! I’m looking forward to going to the EPT Malta. I see no reason why I shouldn’t. I have always preferred live poker even though online poker is so much more accessible.

(By this time, another queue of people with cameras and mobile phones has formed and they are behaving increasingly impatient.)

Patrik Antonius
Still adored.

PL: I guess we don’t want to keep you any longer. You have some photo shoots ahead of you.

PA: You know, this is the thing that has surprised me the most this week.

That after all this time I’ve been away there are still so many people who know me and say hello and want to take pictures.

It’s absolutely amazing.


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John Juanda: “We Bet Insane Amounts of Money on Really Crazy Stuff”

John Juanda was one of the biggest names and most famous faces during the height of the poker boom.

He was part of the prestigious Team Full Tilt. He played in the highest poker games and tournaments on the planet. He was perpetually on TV.

Then, he dropped off the North American poker radar. He moved the focus of his life to Japan and Macau.

It’s been four years ago since Juanda left Las Vegas for Japan and, he says, one year exactly since he’s played his last hand of poker – which was last year at EPT Barcelona.

How  – and why – has he been away from the game for a year? He’s made a living winning prop bets.

You read that right. We caught up with him on Day 4 at EPT Barcelona where, despite a lingering illness, he’s in the Top 5 chip counts with under 70 players left.

PokerListings: Whereabouts do you live now, John?

John Juanda: I still live in Tokyo.

John Juanda
Busy getting fit.

PL: Do you still spend a lot of time in Macau?

JJ: Not anymore. I haven’t played any poker the whole year. The main event in Barcelona is only my second event this year and the first one was the Super High Roller a couple of days ago.

PL: We noticed you also missed the WSOP. What’s going on?

JJ: What happened was that I made a bunch of prop bets with a good friend of mine. I don’t know how it started; we had dinner and a couple of drinks, and then we started challenging each other.

We ended up betting insane amounts of money on really crazy stuff. For example he bet me that I couldn’t do 20 pull-ups – and I mean Marine Corps pull-ups – and he gave me six months to train for it.

We also bet on running five kilometers. And here’s a very interesting one. He bet me he would be faster hopping 50 yards on one foot than me running 100 yards normally.

He offered me the bet at his Christmas party, saying ‘this is a sucker bet, I’m hustling you,’ but I thought about it and couldn’t believe he would be faster.

PL: We would have thought you’d be a clear favorite.

JJ: Not really.

We also had another crazy bet on who would do better in proficiency in the Japanese language test. I basically spent eight-and-a-half hours everyday this year training and studying.

But now we’ve settled our bets and I started playing a little bit of poker again.

John Juanda
Doesn’t miss the TV days.

PL: Are you saying you lost all the bets?

JJ: No, I won most of them.

PL: Were you hustled in the sprint race?

JJ: No. I passed him and won. But it was close. I also ended up doing 22 pull-ups.

I’ve lived in Japan for four years now and never learned the language but because of all these bets I got in shape and I learned Japanese, so it’s been a really good year.

PL: Maybe you were just fed up with poker and needed a break.

JJ: That was part of the reason. When I lived in Vegas or LA everything was close and easy to get to but from Tokyo it’s a hassle.

I like coming to Barcelona or Monte Carlo, for example, but there are no direct flights so the trips are very long.

I was ready to take a break. I’m not sure if I’m really getting back into it now, though. I’ll just see how it feels.

John Juanda
Manila next big thing.

PL: Do you miss the old days when you were on TV all the time?

JJ: I don’t miss playing on TV but I miss the big cash games in Australia and in Macau with the Chinese guys.

PL: You told us once you’d be playing in Macau even if the stakes were too high.

JJ: (laughs) They’ve been going really crazy there. The stakes are about 8-10 times as high as when I was playing.

My poker bankroll isn’t that big anymore so I would have to sell action if I wanted to go into these games.

PL: So where is your future?

JJ: I love living in Tokyo so that’s not going to change anytime soon. In the short run I might go to London from here as there might be a big cash game on.

Then, in the near future, I’m going to go to Manila which is the new hot spot for cash games. I think that’s where the big cash games are going to be.


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