Since he won nearly $1.5 million in the 2013 PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker Main Event, everyone in the poker community has been asking, "Who is PlayinWasted?"
Several college students raised their hands and said, "Wasted? Yeah, I'm playing wasted."
But none of them were online poker's newest world champion. None of them were a hundreds of thousands of dollars richer than they were last week.
Through our PokerStars friends, however, we were able to track down Germany's PokerStars player who goes by the name PlayinWasted, and he consented to answer a few questions--as long as we didn't reveal his real name.
PlayinWasted turns 23 later this month and lives in a small town near Cologne, Germany. He's been in southern part of the country for the last few years finishing up his bachelor's degree in economics. He just started working on a second degree in--surprise!--psychology.
"I once read a sentence on a forum that 'some people like solving puzzles more than money.' I think that fits me quite well," he said.
Want to know more about how a relative unknown won the biggest event of the year? About his 8.1 million-chip mis-click? About busting Viktor Blom? About how he doesn't want this to be life-changing money?
Then read below, as PlayinWasted consented to a few questions below before slipping back into is anonymous life as a German student.
PokerStars Blog: Are you a professional or recreational player? What's your usual game?
PlayinWasted: I am definitely a recreational player. Earlier in my "career", when grinding to get a bankroll to work with, I played a lot more, but recently, especially while finishing my bachelor, I have not played all that much.
I mostly played 6-max and HU cash games and MTTs. I ever really focused on one thing and tried pretty much everything. I also always changed the stakes I played depending on my bankroll and the confidence in my play. I might have played MTTs up to 215$, not play for some time, start grinding NL25 6max zoom, and suddenly start playing NL200 HU a week later.
I still spend a bunch of time reading, thinking and talking about poker, though. I love watching great poker players battle both in tournaments and highstakes cash games and try to understand their thought process or for example read HSNL or HSMTT threads on twoplustwo for the same purpose.
This is pretty much how I learned to play, I haven't read a poker book or watched a training video yet. I consider myself as rather talented in generally understanding most of the concepts of poker quite easily. Applying these concepts at the table is something else, though.
If I find a way and develop a strategy to beat a certain game to a certain degree, that was the interesting part for me. I don't have the drive to do the grind just for the purpose of making money. I usually get bored after some time, start playing fancy and bad or stop playing. I usually start to look for something else to learn and understand.
The biggest difference between me and professional players is that as far as poker is concerned I am not a hard worker. To be a great player these days, especially online, you have to sit down and do your homework, do the maths and study your ranges off the table. I haven't. That is why you will find me making mistakes from time to time that most small stakes players would never make.
Also, I do not use any programs to analyse the game off the table, and I do not use a HUD at all while playing.
Who is that in your avatar picture? And why did you pick the picture?
The person on my avatar is Andy Samberg from The Lonely Island in the music video of the song "Threw it on the Ground." I just thought it was a funny picture and it might confuse or tilt some opponents.
How did you celebrate immediately afterwards?
The tournament was a marathon for me both physically and mentally, so after the win I mainly wanted to sleep and planned to party afterwards. But I just didn't manage to sleep at all, so I was too tired to go out at night.
The day after that I went out with a really good friend who kind of knows the poker scene but is not really a part of it. We talked a little about the tournament, but apart from that just had a normal night out in Cologne. Nothing special. It felt good to party with unknown people who don't even know the word WCOOP and just forget about it for a couple hours.
In a couple days, the whole crew of the "Team GatsbyKempinho", including all the shareholders, will come over for my birthday. That will be a little more crazy I guess. (Editor's note: PlayinWasted explains his staking arrangement below.)
Who were you most concerned about during the final table and how did you adapt to it?
I was not really concerned about a special player or tried to avoid one. I also did not really try to get into pots with certain players or exploit certain players with certain lines. I just decided about every single spot at the given time.
You came into the final table as one of the biggest stacks but seemed to sit back a little bit at the beginning.
First of all I have to say that I was in a quite perfect position when the final table started. I had twice the chips of everyone except of the chip leader who sat at my immediate right. So, when SwissCantMiss had folded, every player had big ICM considerations both pre-flop and post-flop when entering a pot with me. I am pretty sure I did not do everything possible to abuse that situation, and if a player of the calibre of Calvin Andersen, Vanessa Selbst or Dönig was in my shoes, they would have probably pretty much destroyed the final table with their aggression.
I was not nitting it up in my opinion, but I obviously decided to take a more solid route. Not because I was "money-scared" (actually, I pretty much didn't think about the money at all while playing) but because of the high skill level of my opponents and the fact that I expected to get played back at a lot when opening and three-betting too crazy because of me being unknown to the others and probably considered as a less experienced player.
I did not want to get into too many wars with too wide ranges against very good opponents so I decided to play a rather solid and balanced strategy - I obviously still opened lighter than I would in a cash game with the same stack sizes though.
Were there any moments earlier in the tournament where you thought, "I could make the final table. I could win this?"
The first time I really thought about making a deepr un was relatively shortly after the bubble, after I doubled up twice by winning flips and suddenly had a double average chip stack. By the way, that was the last time I was all-in for my tournament life until the heads-up. The chance of winning this came to my mind for a second when busting tomateee on the final table bubble and getting to the final table as second in chips. But from that point on, I just played "one hand at a time" as already stated.
There were two memorable moments during the tournament:
First of all, I was able bust Isildur1 with a big cooler after I had bluffed of half of my stack against him earlier in the tournament. The second one was directly on the bubble, when playing hand for hand. A big stack opened and I found AKo in the small blind with only 12 big blinds. I was quite happy to see him folding to my shove!
When you were short stacked playing heads-up for $160,000 and the WCOOP title did you ever lose faith that you could win? How did you keep focussed for so many hours?
Actually there was only one situation where I actively thought about losing the heads-up. I three-bet 93s or something similar from the big blind and made a c-bet of nine million chips instead of 900k into a two million pot on a KQJ board which was obviously a mis-click.That was pretty scary because the flop hits Allanons defending range quite hard. On the other hand, he has to assume there is a chance I am making a fake mis-click with a strong holding, so he cannot call me that light. He thought for a couple seconds, but they felt really really long. I would have felt really bad when getting called there and afterward losing the heads-up.
Apart from that, I always thought I had a chance to win it, no matter how short I was. Allanon played great in my opinion, but I did not feel outclassed, and variance is huge in heads-up play anyways. I just tried to do the best I could.
This $5k buy-in was a big step up from your usual stakes. Did you qualify or get staked? Tell us how you got into playing the Main Event
A couple of poker mates convinced me to come to Barcelona this year to play my first EPT. It was my first live tournament experience. Luckily I was able to have a deep run in the Main Event and cashed there. I also happened to play at the same tables with some of my mates. As it seems they liked my play at such a big stage and trusted my skills enough to convince me to jump into the WCOOP Main Event buying a good chunk of my action.
I ended up having 29% of myself, which obviously is a great payout for a student. Maybe surprisingly for some, it felt really good to send out the money to the shareholders, I know all of them in person. They are such cool guys, and every one of them deserves what he gets.
How does it feel to have won the World Championship of Online Poker?
It definitely feels incredible. I was happy and proud to have competed in this tough field, but at the same time I was physically drained and happy that the intense grind was finally over. I didn't really think about the money at that moment, but of course that is great as well.
Most important for me are my family and my close friends. I think I'm quite a down-to-earth guy who has a good feeling for what is important and good for myself. So I hope the cash in the WCOOP Main Event is not a "life-changing cash" because I'm quite happy with my life as it is and really do not want too much to change. Maybe I will do a couple more trips to EPTs or similar series or go to Vegas for the WSOP if my schedule allows that.
Brad Willis is the PokerStars Head of Blogging