With the World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) 2019 kicking off next Thursday (Sep 6), who better to talk to than former $5K Main Event champion Steven van Zadelhoff?


WCOOP is arguably the most exciting time of the year for online poker, with big buy-ins, huge guarantees, and stacked fields making for a thrilling three weeks of poker.

One player in particular who is looking forward to the grind is the Netherlands’ Steven van Zadelhoff. After all, he took down the $5K Main Event in 2017 for a career-best $1.62 million, so he has some very fond memories.

He’ll be looking to do the double this year, but before that we caught up with him at EPT Barcelona, where he has just notched up another career highlight.


PokerStars Blog: Hey Steven, how has your EPT Barcelona been so far?

Steven van Zadelhoff: Really good thanks. I only got here on Monday (August 26) as I was playing online, so I just feel really fresh and energetic.

Congratulations on finishing fifth in the €25K High Roller earlier this week (van Zadelhoff won €209K for his biggest live score to date). You also had some great online results coming in to this trip (he won both the Sunday HR for $38K and the Saturday PKO for $18K last week). You must have felt confident?

My confidence was really high going in for sure. I made some tweets with the hashtag momentum, and I really think that’s an underrated thing. So I really wanted to keep that ball rolling.

WCOOP is just around the corner. How are you going to prepare when you leave Barcelona?

van Zadelhoff at EPT Barcelona

Hopefully I’ll have some time to run errands and get stuff done which needs to be done. I’ll be arriving back home after 13 weeks of travel, so there will probably be some stuff to do at home. Checking my set-up is still good and whatever. Then it’ll be a month of full time grinding. I’m ready, I can’t wait. Somebody has to win the WCOOP Main for a second time, so why not me?

Thirteen weeks? That’s a long time.

Yeah. We went to Montreal before Vegas, then after the World Series of Poker (WSOP) we just stuck around in the Netherlands.

You’ve been very open about your fitness goals and nutrition on Twitter. Do you ever find it hard to stick to a good routine when travelling?

We were just talking about it [at the table] actually. For me it’s a lot easier now, because I feel like I’ve trained my system so much that I automatically do what’s good for me rather than what I want to do. That doesn’t mean I don’t splurge from time to time — a couple of days ago for example I had a bottle of wine and a big bag of Doritos and whatever.

van Zadelhoff: I heard a good analogy when talking to Alex Foxen in the gym a couple of days ago. He said that if you build a strong machine…just imagine a well-made wood shredder for example, the machine can handle some small pieces of metal sometimes. But if you just start cramming in steel pipes it will jam at some point. It’s a very good comparison. So just make sure you build a strong machine, then it matters a lot less what you do.

With the PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship coming to EPT Barcelona next year, do you have any tips for first-time visitors looking to stay healthy?

Steven van Zadelhoff

I know my way around, especially here in Barcelona where I’ve been like 15 times or whatever. There’s a little shop where I can buy some healthy stuff, I know how to smuggle my food into the casino, it’s completely automatic. I don’t even have to think about it now.

I order a lot of healthy stuff online which I take with me when travelling, some snacks like peanut butter, MCT oil, some good sea salt, stuff like that. Nothing too special, just stuff I like having around. It doesn’t take a lot of effort, it’s just in my system now. I feel like less of a freak than I probably am!


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