We all know that variance plays a bit part in the game, so we like it when we see proof that skill still has the upper hand. For that it’s rarely necessary to look past James Obst, better known as Andy McLEOD on PokerStars, who this week won the Super Tuesday title, and a first prize of $109,000.
You see, this is not exactly the first time Obst, from Adelaide, Australia, has featured in a Blog headline, and the username “Andy McLEOD” long since lost its capacity to provide any degree of anonymity. For Obst is a member of online poker’s most exclusive clubs – the Triple Coop Club. Current membership: two.
James Obst in action in the real world
But while he may brush off suggestions that this is any more than a series of good tournament performances (“Winning more is more impressive than winning diversely!”), Obst has repeatedly demonstrated an unfathomable knack of winning and winning big.
Obst first struck gold in September 2008, blowing away the field in Event #16. Less than a year later he won the first of two career SCOOP titles, the second coming in May of this year which in turn followed a TCOOP win back in February.
It leaves him just a Sunday Million away from the “Stars Slam”, the only possible place to go beyond the Triple Coop Club. Although any win, particularly that in a Super Tuesday title, means something.
“The Super Tuesday always gets a great field,” said Obst, speaking shortly after his win. “I suppose you wouldn’t register if you didn’t think you could win, but the belief obviously grows the deeper you get. I got lucky on the river with maybe three tables left and sometimes when those kind of things happen you start thinking it might be your day.”
Obst has had success live and has made the trip north to play various EPTs
It was his day, as Martin Harris reported on the PokerStars Blog. Obst got past some pretty key players after a long session, one that he almost didn’t play.
“I was pretty tired this morning and thought about skipping it, but decided to load it up and just a couple of other tourneys so I didn’t fall back asleep. By the time the others were done the sun was up in Australia and I had some chips so it was a bit easier to keep focusing.”
Focus is exactly what he did do, to a point of passing on the idea of a deal heads-up, preferring instead to play on for the win. But as Obst explained, this was not some ego thing (well perhaps just a little…), but in line with a purist’s way of thinking, backed up by a self-belief which, to be fair, has a convincing track record.
“On a basic level, my attitude is that if I win I want to have truly won; not to feel that I left money on the table,” said Obst. “If I don’t win (if we’re talking about heads up chopping) then I feel that all I’ve earned is second place money, I don’t feel bad that I didn’t get more.
“Another reason is that closing is my biggest strength so I generally feel very confident when we get short-handed. In most cases what I see as a fair chop will surely be rejected because people are proud and overrate themselves (I’m guilty of this!), and it’s just classless to plead your case – it’s important to me to show respect to my opponents at all times.
With WCOOP now around the corner there could be more to come from Obst
“Also, I love competition when it’s pure and there’s nothing purer than being heads up in an MTT. Second or third place is always a good score, so I suppose I’ve never shared the opinion of many who say “why would you want to flip for so much money?”. The truth is there may be a bit of degeneracy in this rationale too, haha.”
Obst will now turn his attention to WCOOP, where he won his first major title back in 2008. Does he have a specific plan for the Championship, details of which were released today, or is it a case of show up and play?
“I don’t have any plans yet,” admitted Obst. “Last year I tried to be a hero and play every event, and I know for sure that’s not something I’ll be doing this time… It was really pretty stupid for someone who’s played as long as I have. My main target would just be to have my health in good enough shape so that I can be playing near my best from the start through to the final day.”
For now the priority turns to celebrating, which Obst confessed would probably mean a day off tomorrow. But it will be only a short reprieve for his opponents. “It’s pretty much just onto the next one, but you feel good until whenever the next one is!”
Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.